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All the action from Gr8! Women in Dubai

On a red carpet, stars are generally conditioned to speak about fashion and talk up the weather of the city they are in. Thankfully, the actors who attended the Gr8! Women Awards at Sofitel Dubai Palm Resort & Spa on Saturday night were a feisty bunch. Bollywood’s Kangana Ranaut, Shreya Saran and Simi Garewal proved they were made of sterner stuff as they lashed out against violence against women, a major issue in India.

“Nothing makes me more angry than opening the newspapers and reading about gang rape or some ghastly violence against women. We have to all stand together and get the government in power to protect us,” said Garewal. The actress, who’s best known for her celebrity chat show Rendezvous With Simi Garewal and her non-confrontational manner of interviewing Bollywood stars, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“It is a weakness of a male who looks at a woman as a sex object and that she’s there to fulfil his desires. Unless you change the mind set of men and teach them to respect women, nothing can change,” said Garewal. But she gave full marks to Bollywood for taking purposeful strides in that direction.

“Look at Madhuri Dixit who’s come back to Bollywood or look at Kajol — they are mothers and yet they get roles written for them. There is room for everybody now. It’s a healthy place to be,” said Garewal.

The annual awards night, instituted by Anu and Shashi Ranjan of the Indian Television Academy, was a nod to all the women achievers in the arts, commerce, sports, science and entrepreneurship.

“It’s such an honour to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is a reward to all the cumulative work I have done in my life. We actors, we work for appreciation and expression of our creativity,” said Garewal.

Kangana Ranaut, who was honoured with the Gr8! Women Award for distinction in cinema (acting), suggested that women should never shy away from self-acceptance.

“I have seen many women who are in denial about who they are or where they come from. Presenting yourself fearlessly should be our biggest strength,” said Ranaut, who also promoted her March 6 release Queen at the event. Actress Shreya Saran, who was dressed in a sari given by her mother (also her idol), said she’s relieved that Indian cinema has become less ageist.

“Finally they are writing roles for women who have crossed their 40s. It’s not just about being 18 years old anymore. The good thing is that we don’t have to pretend to be 18 for the next 20 years. I love that,” said Saran, who is currently working on a film with Jimmy Shergill. She too hoped for a society free of crimes against women.

“Rapes shouldn’t go unpunished. There should be fear among men that if you harm a woman then he wouldn’t go scot free. They should be made accountable for any such horrific act,” said Saran.

The evening also saw a galaxy of Indian television stars walk the ramp to raise awareness against issues such female infanticide.

“It’s a warm feeling to be connected to a cause that’s bigger than yourself,” said Ravi Dubey, who has acted in serials including Teri Meri Love Stories and Lankhon Mein Ek.

Did you know?

Simi Garewal will be back with another season of Rendezvous With Simi Garewal soon. But being catty is not her style.

“It doesn’t make me happy nor does it make the person I am talking to happy. Remember, I filmed 146 episodes and none of them were catty.”