Perfectly in tune with this year's International Women’s Day (IWD) theme of 'Break the Bias', Nehru Centre in London and Showcase Events came together for a special virtual event entitled 'Women With Wings' – bringing together nine powerhouse women from varied backgrounds, all of whom have rebelled and broken bias in their own way. They have all succeeded in making a mark in their chosen profession and paved the way for the next generation.
The Director of Nehru Centre London, , opened the show saying: "As one of our scriptures says – even gods abandon the land where women are not respected! So, it is our absolute delight to host such amazing women."
The show was curated and presented by Showcase Events CEO Nanni Singh.
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To begin with, the fiery jugalbandi of percussion between celebrated dancer Padma Shree Shovana Narayan and tabla virtuoso and music composer Anuradha Pal is worth mentioning.
Narayan has successfully merged Kathak with other dance forms like Western Classical Ballet, Tap dance, and Spanish Flamenco, having made Kathak an internationally recognisable dance form.
She is also an acclaimed author and social thinker. Narrating her exciting life journey, she said, "I've lived my life the way I wanted to – while keeping my values intact."
It is fascinating to hear her speak of the taboos and restrictions she had to overcome in her time to live life on her terms.
Tabla virtuoso and music composer Anuradha Pal, the first professional female player, listed by Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Limca Book of Records, highlighted how she had overcome bullying and sexism in the industry with her talent and perseverance.
Ghazal singer Dr Radhika Chopra who has a Doctorate in Music, joined in next. Known as the Ghazal Queen, her versatility is reflected through her repertoire of bhajans, film songs, Punjabi folk songs, and Sufiana Kalams.
Chopra profoundly mentioned, "Each day is women's day and being a woman is a celebration in itself. In fact, I would like to be a woman in my next birth too."
She was followed by dancer, choreographer, philosopher, and professor of Natyashastra, Sohini Roychowdhury.
The founder of Sohinimoksha World Dance and Communications and Sohinimoksha Artes de L'India in Madrid, Kolkata, and Berlin, Roychowdhury said, "Dance for me signifies a world without frontiers and discrimination – this is the kernel of what I have always believed."
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The superbly talented and versatile singers Suneeta Rao and Shweta Shetty had always been known for breaking women's stereotypes in the Bollywood music industry.
"I wanted to rebel against rules, and I love the fact that I became an inspiration for many people," Shetty exclaimed with pride.
Known for her songs 'Paree Hoon Main', 'Kesariya', 'Ab Ke Baras' and loads more, Sunita Rao is also the spokesperson for the of Population First. On occasion, she highlighted the women empowerment message from her video 'Sun Zara'.
The Indian High Commissioner to Malta, Sangeeta Bahadur, narrates how she has always swum against the tide. Bahadur is also a published author of speculative fiction. Her fantasy epic, the Kaal Quadrology, has received wide appreciation and a dedicated fan-following.
TV personality Gitikka Ganju Dhar, named Nation Builder by India Today magazine for recrafting the archetype and redefining communication on the Indian stage, was part of this stellar panel.
The first professional woman rally driver for Mahindra Adventure Rally Team Mercedes Benz Luxe Drive, Garima Avtar, rounded off the evening saying: "Making a career out of my job was unheard of, but I was very determined and had both mental and physical strength needed to excel."
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All nine women represent powerful role models, having carved a niche for themselves with their talent. And, as pointed out by the host of the day, Nanni Singh, women of such calibre need very little introduction and will continue to inspire future generations.