Neighbourhood Video Project: Jogeswari Beauty Clinic
Director: Shahida, Rasida, Ruhi, Shaher Bano, Nishi, Kaneez Zehera, Geeta, Tabbu, Rehena, Tarannum
Duration: 00:33:18; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 9.779; Saturation: 0.192; Lightness: 0.572; Volume: 0.221; Cuts per Minute: 0.510; Words per Minute: 135.182
Summary: This is part of Majlis' neighbourhood and video literacy project. Under this project a niche group from a neighbourhood is given training in video literacy. After the initial project they are given technical assistance (camera, editing and sound facilities and personnel) to shoot their own surroundings. At the end of the project they become author of a film made on their own lives. This project was conducted with the neo-adult girls from the Muslim settlements in Jogeswari. The workshop was conducted under a local initiative titled Darakht-e- Ilm (tree of knowledge). This initiative started by former journalist Firoze Ashraf, is structured on the principle of earner-learner, where older girls are involved with teaching the younger students and in the process are supported and persuaded to complete graduation and encouraged into skill development. The older girls who are mainly graduate students participated in the workshop. Though the video was shot in the location of their neighbourhood the training took place in Majlis office, far away from their homes. The exercise of traveling to a cosmopolitan area for training in something like video making was by itself an emancipating process for them. By the end of the two weeks workshop the girls were divided into two groups to shoot two different narratives on their lives. One group chose the subject of women run beauty parlours in the vicinity as role models for economic independence. The other group covered various livelihood choices available to them in order to emancipate other girls. The project then was named 'Yahan se Wahan tak' (From here to there) as a measure of their consistent yet small progress. At the end of it the two films were screened in the neighbourhood in front of the local people and some invited guests. When the credit with the girls' names as directors rolled the all encompassing ecstasy was overwhelming.
Another aim of the video literacy project is to initiate non-hegemonic image productions produced by the protagonists themselves. Towards this end the project is planned as a part of the Godaam digital media archive. Other than this we have also conducted similar projects with the youngsters of the closed textile mills area (Rojgar hakk samiti) and the inhabitants of the fisherfolks village in Versova. Footage initiated by those projects are also available in PAD.MA.
Follwing is an interview with Aziza Hussain. Both the interviewers and the interviewee are new in front of the camera. But they are exposed to and influenced by the 'sound bite' culture on television. Thus the process initially suffered by the lifeless imitation of TV interviews, till the energy of the place and the situation warmed it up.
G1: Asalaam alaikum, your name?
Woman: Aziza Hussain.
G1: Can you tell us a bit about your family?
(general confusion. Aziza expresses discomfort about the way of questioning)
G1: How many children do you have?
AH: I have 3 sons, of whom 2 are married, and one is to be married. And I have a daughter, whom I have adopted. I adopted her when she was 9months old; she's to turn 15 soon.
G1: Does she study?
AH: Yes, at St Joseph's.
G2: Any particular reason, why you adopted a girl?
AH: Not really, my neighbor needed me to adopt her child, I did.
G1: What does your husband do?
AH: He owns a canteen, at Edward Cinema.
G2: What do you think you could've been, if not a beautician?
AH: A teacher, since I've always liked teaching. I've wanted to be one since I was a child. I find my present field, similar to that of a teacher. I teach people. I teach sewing. Just that the subject are different.
G2: So you have achieved perfection as a beautician?
G2: So which one was better - the profession of teacher or beautician?
AH: Both are good in their own ways. Say even in beautician's job - we do treatment of the skin or hair... almost like the way the teachers teach in schools. We also want our clients, who come to us with some problems, we address that problem. We look at it like a doctor
G2: Just the way your staff comprises of girls, and your students are girls too, have you ever got offers from boys?
AH: Yes, they come, but we don't accept them. Some girls come, with their brothers, saying 'my brother has a certain face or skin problem, can you treat him?' and I advise them from the door, and I prescribe the medicine for them to take. I consider them my children.
G2: Do you treat boys outdoors?
G2: And what about your students, even boys like to do this, sometimes..
AH: No, absolutely not. Even if someone forces me, I don't take them. I apologize to refuse them. Except for my own sons, that too very rarely, I don't let any boy enter. This is an entirely ladies' parlor. And I respect that. Nowadays, with the way parlors are being defamed, in that sense, ours is a very different parlor.
Whatever boys should be doing, they can do elsewhere. This is an exclusive parlor for ladies.
The protagonist Aziza Hussain sits behind a glass panel and answers the questions of the young girls sitting near the camera on the other side of the glass. As a result the interviewee never looks directly at the interviewers. The girls must have had their own reasons for making such a complicated frame. Maybe they wanted to address the issue of inaccessibility or veils in this abstract way. It is obvious that the young interviewers are much more tense and uncomfortable than the middle aged professional interviewee. The directors off camera express their impatience with the 'inefficiency' of the interviewers on camera. Apparently the neighbourhood girls hero worships Aziza for running such a successful profession in the middle of the conservative Muslim society.
The interview begins with Asalaam alaikum, a common phrase denoting 'Greetings', but literally translates as 'Peace be upon you' in Hebrew.
Surprisingly, she has adopted a daughter. With 3 boys, we are biased to think she is happy, as the belief goes in favor of the male child. But with her conversation, she seems proud of the adoption.
Aziza emphasizes on the exclusivity of her parlour as a ladies' only zone. Part of it could be the reason of comfort or even the need to create a space for women. But a part of it is also a defense against any possible aspersion from the conservative society.
Station Road, Jogeshwari East
G2: Auntie, why have you picked a shopping centre or a mall for your parlor, why not in your locality?
AH: Because I want to be on the safe side. If my parlor was in a bazaar, everybody would have their eyes on it. I get girls clad with the burkha, married women too come here. They feel safe here. Though I make less money in this palce. But since the girls feel safe, I feel I'm doing something good for them. I feel satisfied. I'm not in it for the money. This is my passion.
God caters to my needs of my children. I'm doing this because I am fond of it. There are no issues, in a mall.
G1: Who supported this move of yours, to have a parlor on a mall?
AH: My son. For 17/18 years I did this work in flat. Earlier, 3 of my sons would go to school, the house would be empty. I started sewing classes. I used to take sewing classes earlier. By then, 24 years ago, I had already done some beautician work, so I would do that alongside too. That's how events progressed, from sewing classes, to teaching henna, to a beautician. That's what got me here today. I've run a boutique too.
The notion of safety, specially in terms of gender, is a complex one. Aziza thinks that she and her girl employees would have felt unsafe in a stall in their own neighbourhood. She obviously believes that the anonymity of a shopping mall helps them. Maybe she equates the familiarity and the related intrusion in a patriarchal society as being unsafe. It is likely that in an orthodox Muslim settlement the girls working in a beauty parlor would have attracted a lot of unwarranted attention.
G1: So, you have done this course only after getting married?
G1: And, your husband supported you with this profession?
AH: Yes, he permitted me in the sense, he made it clear, operate from home, and don't go out of the house. Only for the past five years have I moved out of the house, otherwise, most of my operations were from within. I still, at this stage am not as aware of the outside world. I don't know much beyond my house, outside world is still alien to me.
G2: Any particular reason?
AH: My principles, that way, I've never had any limitations from my family, my in-laws, my mother in law in particular. They trusted me, knowing what I was doing is right. My dignity was maintained, in my own family, as well as with my in-laws. Also among people, friends. Thus, right from the beginning, it's been a habit; I haven't done anything that gives a chance for people to raise fingers at me. I have my respect as a beautician. When people ask for orders at home, I don't go, nor do I send any of my staff. I have my self-respect. Just the way I have my self-respect, I believe that my students as well as staff must get the same respect.
G2: So, you don't think it safe for your staff to go to someone's house?
AH: No, I don't like it. There have been people who have said, I'll pay you a little extra, but I don't think it is right. We don't entertain it. There are many other parlors that send their staff, we don't.
G2: The first time when you heard in the TV news the sentence... the accusation against the beauty parlours... it is such a clean profession, girls are learning it with so much passion and then they tarnish it ... first time when you heard this - how did you feel? '
AH: I didn't like it; it caused me a great deal of pain. Look is given by the nature... we cannot do anything about that. Only at the cosmetic level we can give provide little beauty. Nature stands in its place - somebody has a fat nose or crooked teeth - we cannot do anything about that. Only can give it a cosmetic touch. The other person feels happy, think I too have something. Every girl has a self image. Even an ugly girl think I am beautiful. To enhance her beauty I can only help a little, nothing else. See, even when we treat someone unless Khuda wishes so we cannot do anything. So my first principle is that I am giving you something. But don't trust it completely. Pray to god that it becomes a relief for you.
The way the young interviewers frame their questions and the way Aziza replies reflect much of their social positions. The girls who are in threshold of finishing their studies and feeling uncertain about their future, are trying to derive some strength from Aziza's experience. They are also looking for practical tips. Whereas Aziza is using this opportunity to defend her choices. An ordinary choice of practicing as a beautician too can come under severe criticism in an orthodox place as this. This kind of a neighbourhood which is both poor and a minority settlement develops ghetto culture and imposes severe social norms on its people. They are particularly stringent on women. The poverty related lack of exposure and the minority status which make them rigid and inward looking, results in various gender atrocities. In such a situation Aziza wants to tread carefully and not flaunt her rare status of independent woman.
G2: Currently you are working with public, have you ever wished to do up a film star, or a TV actor?
AH: No, never. I'm fine with what I'm doing right now. Whoever needs me and whose need I can attend to... as long as I am of help to everyone. If someone comes here, any girl, then I won't stop them, whether they are film stars, or not. I have no problems. But, I don't tell them 'come to my parlor'. We don't solicit them.
G2: A reason in particular?
AH: I don't like it.
G2: Is it that you don't want to enter that industry?
AH: No, I have nothing against the industry. We are small time people, we aspire on a small basis, and we do our own things. Whether it is a parlor, or anything else.
G1: Supposing you get an opportunity, to open up a branch, in say, Dubai, would you do it?
AH: I'm happy with the opportunity... what I have at the moment.
G1: So, you don't like traveling either?
AH: I haven't been out for years. If I do, it's for a few days, and my staff handles things for me, here.
G1: Where do you go, when you do?
AH: Different places, for weddings etc. with the family.
G1: Are you from Bombay?
AH: I'm originally from Aligarh, but we've been born and raised here.
G1: Which means you don't visit Aligarh as often?
AH: (pauses) I've been there only thrice till date!
G1: Anything memorable happen to you at Aligarh?
AH: No, nothing memorable at Aligarh, because when we go there, we stay for barely 15-20 days. The last time I was there, Indira Gandhi was murdered (in 1984), we were there then. That was my last visit there, we haven't been there since.
G1: Have you had any memorable experiences as a beautician?
AH: There have been so many. Lots of clients come, who have lots of problems of the face. There was once, when my adopted daughter, Shaista, when we had to admit her into school, I met a lady. One of the kinds who, for a fee, admit children into a school. So, she said to me, 'for a fee, I can admit your child into St Joseph's, can you please spread this message and get other parents too'. Thus, as I spread the word, even others started paying her for the service, and she tried to admit these children. But, she turned out to be a fraud. She had taken money from everyone, and ran away. It was luck or fluke, whatever you say, somehow, Saista- we call her Neha eventually got admission into St. Joseph's. But another person, one of my clients, who was also cheated by this lady, introduced me to a girl, they live in Lokhandwala now. She's a designer now, and visits America often. When she came to me, she must've been around 16 or 18. Her nose had lot of hair and blackheads. Once I did the treatment, her nose was so clean, that ever since then, it's been 6-7 years, and she comes to me from Lokhandwala. And when she goes to America, she carries products only from here, in spite of the fact that you get products a lot better than mine over there, there was a trust that was built. You could talk to her if you like. Today she thinks, in spite of the lady who cheated on us, and turned out to be a fraud, 'at least she introduced me to you'. So I think this kind of respect that the Allahtala has provided for me - I am very grateful....
Aziza is an example of the 'survival of the fittest'. She has strategised her progress slowly and without rocking the boat. An open rebellion could have exhausted her much more and yet not achieved much. She got herself trained at home without anybody paying much attention to it. She has also made compromises in a few occasion, only to achieve her final goal of financial independence. For centuries women in domestic spheres have negotiated their space like this. These efforts do not get applauded. But history actually inches forward through such tiny steps and not by one time heroics.
Somewhere in between, she also mentions how, when her brothers-in-law tell her not to go elsewhere, that they say 'According to your whims, we've let you do whatever you like, but don't move out of the house', suggesting that her profession was still not absolutely appreciated.
G1: These products that you manufacture, do they sell in America as well?
AH: No, just some of my clients take my products to America. This particular girl, she's a student in America, and she visits India on and off, she takes my products when she goes.
G2: This course you have done, a diploma, or certificate, you didn't do it before getting married?
AH: No, before marriage, just sewing.
How I got into this profession, was because, this one time, at home, there was a wedding. And I was told, to call a beautician or someone to apply henna. We found it difficult, but we got one. So, she applied henna to everyone. I had this habit then, of doing something compulsively. So, watching them, I thought, even I can learn this. Even I can do this job. So, I called her over, and told her to teach me at home; then, we weren't allowed to go out of the house much. Our family is not so open-minded. Whatever I wanted to do, would have had to be within the house. So, I would call her home, and I did an entire course with her. I learnt how to apply henna, everything. I had a friend, who was into henna applying, she told me one day, 'There's a family at the Taj (not the revered Taj Mahal hotel, a local motel), who wants to get henna applied. A large family. Will you come?' I agreed, saying 'It shouldn't be a big deal'. I then talked to my family, Ashraf's father (her husband). He didn't say anything, but told his brothers, that I was to go to a Hotel to apply henna. They said 'What is she lacking over here, at home, that she needs to go to a Hotel'?
They came to me and said 'For Heaven's sake, please don't do anything outside the house. You've done whatever you liked till date, but going to a hotel to apply henna will not happen in this household, so please don't do it. For god's sake I'll give you the money you need, but don't walk into that hotel'. Since the day, I've been rigid on my principles, about not accepting outside order. Today, at home, people give more importance to my opinion. But so many years back, 25 years by now... once they have stopped me from going out..., I gave all the henna cones I had made to that friend, telling her that I won't come. If anyone were to come here, it was fine, but I couldn't go. Right from the time, I realized that going out of the house is not permitted, by my in-laws.
My husband understood, that it was my aptitude, and thought 'How can I restrict her?', which is why he approached his brothers, who told me not to leave the house. Since then, I've made it a principle that I will not operate from beyond the house.
Otherwise, the help comes from my family, my husband, buying me things from the bazaar, the herbal ingredients, he buys them, and I make products out of them at home.
survival of the fittest
AH: Am I talking too much?
G2: No, no, you're doing just perfect! It is great to hear you.
G1: Auntie, you daughter, Shaista, would you like to bring her into this field?
AH: Yes, I'd like to teach her everything, if she has a liking for it. She comes here occasionally, during the school vacations; she's always doing something, whenever she has time. Since she's still small, she concentrates on studies more. I want her to study, I want her to make something of herself. It is very important for girls to have a skill. Today I am a professional. Earlier I was doing it as hobby. There is a need - with today's rising prices, in spite of my husband, and my 3 sons working, it's still less. There is always something or the other. Because we are working earnestly in our small capacity. We are not earning in abundance to say this is enough and now do whatever you want.
I've come to an age where, I am self-dependent, I don't want to ask my children for money for various things. If they needed some, then they can tell me, it's always available for others. They ask for things. They're children. Even if they earn Rs. 100,000, children will always be children, for mothers. I have never asked them for money. Which is why I don't want to quit this field, I am happy with whatever I earn.
For the first time she accepts that her work is some kind of financial help to her family and that she is proud of her independence. The fact that the family does not want to appear dependant on a woman's income, has been so ingrained in her that her first instinct it to portray her work as a whim or hobby and not a paying profession. But in reality her family, like any contemporary urban family, cannot do away with some extra income. She knows it and appropriately proud of her contribution. Still a woman can be allowed to a provider, as long as she does not want to assert her privileges of a provider.
Burkha/parda/veil/chadar of Muslim women has become a very contentious issue. The feminist movement calls it as a symbol of oppression of women. The anti-Islamic lobby all over the world uses this custom to beat the political power of the Islamic countries. More the anti-Islamic world make noise, more rigid becomes the clerics stand on the use of burkha. Burkha then becomes a point of identity assertion. Even in cultures and countries where it was not in vogue, burkha gets re-invented. Ironically many women come out in support of burkha and some young girls even consider it as part of fashion. (see event xxxx in this site). Besides, burkha has also been used for various subversive activities. Under this circumstances this question in this interview becomes curious. The middle aged Aziza does not wear burqa. The young girls who are interviewing her covering their heads. When they go outside they also wear burkha. Is Aziza's not wearing burkha a part of her unconventional personality? Or is it part of the confidence of an independent woman? Still she cited the support of her sons for this freedom. Will the girls be able to achieve this in future? Do they want to achieve it? Could this be a desire of all Muslim girls? Can we homogenize them like that?
Though she is proud of her achievement, Aziza is still not sure of the spiritual merit of her work.
G2: If you don't mind me asking, you don't wear the traditional burkha, but still, you don't want to appear in front of the TV, or the media, or be in the news, make public appearance... can you throw some light on the matter?
AH: I actually did wear it for some time, a few days after my marriage. After that, I stopped wearing it. And today the children say 'Mother, you're now older, independent, responsible'. I know, that it's essential for us to wear it, but still, today, if I want to wear it, there's nobody to stop me. But my children tell me 'What's the need, you're fine the way you are'
But, inspite of not wearing the burkha, we live like those who do wear them. Everybody is frank to everyone here. Everyone respects my staff, as much as they respect me. Some of my staff wear burkha. Even namaz (prayer) happens here, they read the Quran. With respect to Islam, even if we think this profession good, it's not perceived as so, Which is why I feel guilty, because in spite of doing this, I don't feel I'm doing something that is absolutely right. For this reason, I don't want to show off. Let as much gunaah (sin) that is happening, happen.
Jogeswari East, Bombay
'Ustad' is the word generally meant for classical art or craft - such as music, dance or art. Aziza uses this word in the context of her profession. That shows her pride in her work.
G1: There are lots of girls, from chawls also, who do this course, and there also lots of others, who watch and learn. Everybody learns a little, and does it on their own, whatever they've learnt, sometimes, eyebrows, waxing, bleaching. Except them, there are people who do have certificates, and people who don't have certificates, they still operate. What do you have to say about these people?
AH: There are lots of hardworking girls, who advance in their career, and certificate knowledge is not as important as practical knowledge. If she's learnt from a good place, or if she's learnt by watching, then she should have some idea, when and how people's skin could get affected, and how to avoid it. Today, we have to take health lessons; we need to answer the government that we're not playing with people's skin. Often, people come to us when their skin has been bleached, and they've gotten rashes as a result, it's red, asking what to do. We treat them, and then they're fine. Then there are people who come whose hair is cut in awkward styles, everybody makes an effort. As the saying goes, 'Without knowledge, a Guru is incomplete'. There is a confidence that inculcates in a person, once they've been taught. Once that confidence exists, possessing a certificate holds no meaning. Learning from any guru, is important. Its important to be a (ustad) maestro.
G1: But Auntie, lots of people teach this course, but they don't practice it professionally, it's perceived 'wrong' also, why does this happen?
AH: Well more the point of view of Islam.... Problem is that some people have made this profession seem very cheap. If something has been used in the right way, and productively, then it's fine, if it's being interpreted as vulgar, then it'll obviously be perceived as wrong. Off late, the reputations of parlors are being tarnished to such an extent, sometimes I feel, I should wind up my parlor, and sit idle at home, it's not my cup of tea. Not at our level, but when I read about things in the newspaper I feel embarrassed to call myself a parlourwala. This is why, right from the beginning, my parlor's name has been 'Khatoon's (women's) Beauty Clinic', I haven't named it a parlor. Even in the certificate it is a clinic. But I use the word parlour too because people mistake it as a hospital. They ask - is it a medical shop? I say, yes sort of. But there are also hair cutting etc.
G2: Have you had any particular interesting client, who you haven't forgotten?
AH: I have lots of clients like that, by God's grace, though they are homely women... there are lots. Sometimes, some very modernized girls come to me, when they come to me, they wear a (long) shirt. (they clothe themselves more, for me). This is very important to me. They tell me 'Auntie, I have come here wearing a shirt, for you'. I tell them frankly, when they come, that I don't like the way they dress. They're barely clad, I tell them to wear some proper clothes. Its because of this they consider me more of a teacher than a beautician.
G2: Do you think anything wrong with the clothes people wear these days?
AH: Yes, extremely. Beyond limits, because every woman's identity is in full clothing. Even if you don't wear full clothing, if you wear close to nothing, and you think you look good, then I don't agree with you. I don't agree somebody looks nicer, with less clothing on.
AH: In spite of being in the parlor field, to me, when it's a question of clothes, I think dressing like Indians is essential. Trousers, a shirt and jeans are also fine, but these days, the length of jeans as well as shirts are shrinking. This, I don't like. I'm just telling you what I don't like, if anybody should have any objection to what I'm saying, I apologize. No, seriously, tomorrow someone could come saying 'What's her problem?' I salute and respect the Indian tradition and follow it. But those among us who are pious, those people are heading towards right, whereas we, on the other hand, are heading towards wrong. Nothing is fundamentally wrong, it depends on the use of it. Even something bad can be turned into good, can't it?
This issue of the images of the parlours is part of the morality debate. In last two decades Bombay has witnessed a major rising of public morality and sexual morality. All women oriented service industry - dance bars, beauty parlours, red light area etc. - has come under heavy public scrutiny. It is a strategy of pushing women out of the public place. Unfortunately many women activists are in the forefront of these campaigns. This development make the position of people like Aziza's already precarious situation more fragile.
Aziza is an interesting mix of radical and conservative. She believes in the dress code and infact uses her vantage position to impose it on young girls. Though she talks of Islamic traditions all the time, when it comes to young girls she refers to Indian tradition. The Indian Muslims are always being critisised for not being nationalistic to India. As a result there is a kind of defense mechanism work among the average Muslims. They would name their business outlets as Azad (independence) Stores, National hotel, Rajdhani (capital) bakery etc. where the Hindu establishments in the same area may have names such as Om timber merchant and Shriram Jewellers. Is it that mentality that prompts Aziza to cite Indian custom for dressing? What is Indian custom for dressing?
First the women are not allowed to learn a skill and then they are not allowed to practice it as profession and then they are smirked at... Aziza has gone through all that and still has emerged a winner. She even keeps herself abreast with new trends. Yet she is alert to apologise to Islam for not following its principle. Which principles? The one mouthed by the local clerics? The popular culture? The antagonistic modernists? The prophets' words? How many boats this woman needs to balance simultaneously!.
G1: Many people say that it is a barber's class. (AH: Even at my house, even my folk say that.) What do you have to say about it?
AH: I consider it an art. Just now, I gave a haircut, you saw how long that lady's hair was. Inspite of the fact that she was so heavily clad in her burkha, that we could see only her eyes. But if her husband wants his wife to look 'ultra-modern' (in vogue), with a latest hair cut, then why is it a bad thing, if she's doing it for her husband? She is not doing anything wrong. As I told you I have mostly this kind of clients - the women whose husbands want them to look good. So this kind of girls... who want a hair cut or so, they can not go to any gents' saloon. So for these girls... barber job is family vocation. Our is out of hobby. We have learnt an art. Let people call it barber's job or whatever - it is an art.
G2: Do you have any favorite treatment as such?
AH: Not specifically, all of them to me hold a certain importance, depending on what problem my client has come to me with. As long as my treatments attend to their needs, all of the treatments are equally important and useful.
G2: Off late, the hair coloring concept is becoming popular, either golden brown, or bronze, or blonde, do you consider this an Indian OR Western trend?
AH: Western. Earlier, the Indians would henna their hair. Only off late have people started applying colors. Even we do that. I think it's important for everyone to keep up with time, as in, to learn new things, with time. Some women even ask, is it legitimate or not? (laughs) I say: 'This isn't a madrassa (an Islamic school), it's a beauty parlor'. I tell them to resolve it at home itself or ask the Maulanas (priest)...
According to me though ... I think, this isn't right. The fact that Namaz doesn't happen... All that is in Islam is absolutely right, it involves no wrong. People can be wrong. We're just going with the times. God knows how much we are to be punished!
G2: So, you do possess a certain fear and sorrow?
AH: Yes. but as in a couplet by Dr Iqbal goes:
Self awareness is the spark that lights up the heart
The one whose heart has it:
the dew of her lips is a precious diamond
the tear at her eye is a pearl
God is compassionate to that heart
It errs but once
and is forgiven again and again.
So we live on that. Maybe we are making mistakes but we have faith in almighty that he will forgive us. As much as possible we should not be wrong ourselves.
- Could you say this once more to the camera?
Cameraman: see, this is like looking at things from a different point of view. These girls are talking to you. In some way looking at you they get courage. So these girls want to talk to you. But there are so many others who DO not want to talk to you. This film is the media through which other people can also see you, can get courage from your example.
Ah: I told you that my principle is that I do not want to appear on TV. Don't want media. Then it will become an issue - such as why Sania Mirza has worn short shirt, low pant... all these will come on me too. How is she doing all these. She should sit at home and sing lullaby. That is why...
Cameraman: The way you should not look at all beauty parlours... clinics in the same way, you should not look at the entire media the same way either. Every individual is different. It is a matter of debate. We all have our own point of views. But now that we are talking...
AH: At my home... they will not forbid me... but I myself think that why... after everything is done... coming to TV etc.
Cameraman: But the thing is that people are deriving courage from you, thinking we too can do something. For that...
The camera crew tries to squeeze out more dramatic statements from her. But Aziza, as always, knows how much to speak and when. She refers to the case of Sania Mirza, the tennis icon of India who happens to be a Muslim girl. Some small time clerics ordered her not to wear short skirt on the tennis courts. Media picked it up and made it a huge issue of Islamic oppression of women. Whereas those insignificant clerics could have been silenced only by ignoring them. It became a game for media to represent those characters in public view where they went even more rabid in order to hold on to the public gaze. The fundamentalist on the other side picked up the issue to beat the entire Muslim community and the whole thing became a media circus.
AH: There are so many girls who come to me as they can't get married because of some small things on their face. Small things here and there, that make a big difference for people. Many husbands reject their wives under the pretext of 'There's nothing so great about you'. If that same wife goes to the parlor, and does herself up a little, the husband starts liking her, though there is nothing about here that has changed. Her features are still the same. How some small changes can make people feel good about their wives. That's how we work. I want my clients to go home absolutely satisfied. I never force my clients, I first ask them, if their family would not object. Only then, do I treat them. I don't want people to come here just because they're going to hear compliments from everyone else, and when they go home, there are going to be objections. People shouldn't come to me and say 'Why did you cut my wife's hair? (especially hair is major issue in Islam)Who told you to?' so, I first ask, whether their folks are fine with the idea. Only if they agree, do I carry on.
Again Aziza treads a delicate path. The women can attempt to look better only if their husbands desire so. Does she really believe so? Her own life and work does not reflect such philosophy? Is it her cautious strategy - displayed in front of the camera - in order to keep the status quoists happy? Or is it that she could go only this far on her own? And the rest depends on this young girls.
G1: Can you give us your message, on how this profession's reputation is being tarnished, to avoid this, can you give out a message?
AH: I am so hurt because of it, it has consumed me. This entire issue that has been happening with parlors. I don't know why parlors are being so defamed. 10-15 years from today, there was nothing like this. Only off late has it increased. The concept of unisex parlors. I still find that wrong. Men should do what they are supposed to, and women, what they are supposed to (separately).
G2: Do you think there exists a particular group of people or an organisation that is defaming this profession in particular, or just, general public, according to you?
AH: Everybody does it just for the money. Today, money has become such a thing, that people have no regard for people's respect at all. Even the basically good people are now running on those lines.
Right next to us, Dr. Ansar practices, who sends her patients to us for Namaz. When people ask her where to pray, she tells them to come to our parlor. They ask 'Namaz in a parlor?' She says 'Yes, that is one parlor where till date Namaz is performed, and the girls there maintain their respect'. So, my message to these people is, let the profession be, the way it is, do not defame it.
G1 & G2: Thank you.