At an event to celebrate ten years of Slumdog Millionaire in Mumbai’s Dharavi, for which AR Rahman won the Academy award, Rahman’s daughter Khatija appeared along with him on the stage. A daughter showing up at an event to honour and cheer her father on? Sounds about right. But because we’re constantly in the habit of attempting to policing women’s clothes, their thoughts, their right to exist as they damn well please, Khatija was trolled for wearing a niqab.
1) Khatija JI would have struggled to enjoy the dinner.
2) khatija JI could have sent anybody in her place to attend, nobody would have recognized.
— mahabharath (@mahabharath4) February 6, 2019
Rahman s family with their pet penguin
— Raghav Pandey (@rghvpandey) February 7, 2019
How ironic is the hashtag #freedomtochoose when one woman is covered from head to toe and posing for a photograph! Now please don’t tell me it’s her choice. Would Rahman ji fancy moving around in a burqa? Did not expect this from an icon like u sir!
— praveen sridhar (@pravieen) February 7, 2019
Rahman, who heretofore has always been hailed as a credit to India courtesy his slew of international awards, found himself in the centre of a massive troll-storm. Because of course one must always conclude that a daughter’s wardrobe is decided by the man in the house alone. Not to to say that that isn’t the case in way too many households across the world, however, and as horrific as that might be, to assume Khatija had no agency in her own life’s decisions was a leap that must have required considerable stretching.
Things reached a point where Khatija took to Facebook pointing out that it was her ‘personal choice’ and that her father has nothing to do with her wearing a niqab: “There were certain comments which said that this attire is being forced by my dad and that he has double standards. I would like to say that the attire I wear or the choices I make in my life does not have anything to do with my parents. The veil has been my personal choice with complete acceptance and honour. I’m a sane mature adult who knows to make my choices in life.”
Rahman too had to take to social media to reiterate Khatija’s message, because when is a woman’s word ever of value unless a man corroborates it too?
— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) February 6, 2019
The image shows Rahman’s wife, Saira in abaya (head covered), Raheema his other daughter who observes neither abaya nor hijab and Khatija in a hijab. Hashtagging it #FreedomToChoose, Rahman underlined the agency of women in picking their own path to those not obtuse enough to get it.