Says a source close to Ranbir, "We're startled at the change in Ranbir. He is constantly discussing existence at the poverty line and how to make life better for those who live at that level." Apparently, Ranbir has also expressed a keen desire through Namrata Goel to visit Mijwan.
Shabana Azmi's godchild Namrata Goel, who is Jet Airways' chairman Naresh Goel's daughter has orchestrated the entire fashion show being organized on January 23 in Mumbai for the education of girl children in her ancestral village Mijwan.
Says Shabana excitedly, "Namrata is all of 21. My father (Kaifi Azmi) always said that change has to come from the youth. People like Ranbir and Namrata prove it. My father was only 19 when he got involved with social causes. Namrata arranged the ramp show last year and again this year."
Namrata plans to take Ranbir to Mijwan soon. Says Shabana, "Last year Namrata visited Mijwan for the first time. And the visit transformed her completely. She started gathering support for the fashion show on Facebook. Before I knew it she had the whole show in place. Namrata is the one who got Ranbir Kapoor on board, got him interested in Mijwan."
Namrata recently visited Mijwan with Shabana. "She accompanied me this week. Manish Malhotra and his three assistants also went." Namrata has been fund raiser for her godmother Shabana Azmi from the age of 15. "Namrata has spent most of her life in London. She did a school play at age 15 to raise funds amounting to16,000 pounds for Mijwan and since then was after me to take her to Mijwan."
Shabana says proudly, "Last year we had 22 stars walking the ramp for us. This year it has gone up to 25 stars. So our film industry's participation is growing."
Shabana is rightly proud of the development in her ancestral village. "In Mijwan we run a school, a college, a computer centre and sowing and chikhankari centre. The work they do is so stunning that Anita Dongre has been giving them work. Now Manish Malhotra is also giving them work. The ramp show will create awareness of their fine craft. Someone said about the embroidery work of my girls in Mijwan, 'So beautiful is their needlework that butterflies would be tempted to sit on them.' Because their work has to do with the garments and embroidery this fashion show makes a lot of sense."
Shabana recollects her father's passionate involvement with Mijwan. "Mijwan is such a tiny village in the back of the beyond. It used to be frozen in time until my father took over. There was no road, school, nothing. After his paralytic stroke he dedicated himself to bettering the village. I never paid attention to his dedication to Mijwan while he was alive. Mujhe iss baat ka bahut dukh hai. The first time when I visited Mijwan at age 24 there was no transportation. I had to be carried in a doli! I wondered how I could connect such a tiny hamlet to Mumbai and the film industry. Namrata Goel put it all together for me. And now there is Ranbir joining her."