Music maestro A.R. Rahman has set the benchmark for the Indian music industry with multiple hit albums, international performances and his Grammy and Oscar wins. Ever since the early 1990s, we have been grooving to the Chennai-born composer's songs - dancing on the streets, atop buses as well as moving trains. However, it seems even a lifetime's worth of service to your industry and country cannot save you from being a victim of hate.
Earlier this week, the music director attended a ceremony to celebrate a decade of Slumdog Millionaire - the movie that landed him his two Oscars. His daughter, Khatija, who was invited on stage, shared stories from her childhood and how she grew up watching him compose music.
The main talking point after the event, however, was not the movie or its music. The father-daughter duo was criticised online for Khatija's attire. Trolls called Rahaman a 'hypocrite' for 'forcing' his daughter to wear a niqab.
Instead of directly addressing the controversy, the Chaiyya Chaiyya composer simply posted a picture of his wife Saira and daughters Khatija and Raheema with Nita Ambani, captioning it #FreedomToChoose. In the picture, Saira can be seen covering her head with a dupatta, while Khatija is wearing a niqaab and Raheema head and face remains uncovered.
Later, Khatija reportedly clarified the matter herself, and said that the niqab had nothing to do with her parents. "The veil has been my personal choice," a screenshot of her message said. "I'm a sane mature adult who knows to make my choices in life." She added that everyone had the right to wear what they wanted and requested people to not make a judgement without prior knowledge of the situation. Rahman has three children Khatija, Raheema and Ameen. Khatija has worked with her father on the Rajinikanth-starrer Enthiran, which was released as Robot in Hindi.
This is not the first time rouge netizens have been quick to criticise famous women recently for choosing to wear a burqa or niqab in public. In December, Sara Ali Khan was called out for wearing a burqa to a movie hall. The actress went to catch a sneak preview of her debut film Kedarnath and the audience's reception.
"I am Muslim myself," the former Bigg Boss contestant said at a press event. "I have only one complaint towards those people who keep ranting about the burqa. Shame on them as to why are they seeing that thing. Why should we be in purdah." The actress had to issue a formal apology for her remarks in November.
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