Upholding the true spirit of International Women’s Day, an organisation called Beyond Dreams felicitated personalities who have managed to defy all kinds of gender stereotypes and created a niche for themselves by impacting the lives of many.

The noted individuals who were recognised for their outstanding contributions with the Tumi Annanya award are singer Usha Uthup, dancer Tanushree Shankar, actor-director Aparna Sen, actress Koel Mullick, designer Agnimitra Paul, dancer and social worker Alokananda Roy, theatre person Dolly Basu, activist Saira Shah Halim and transgender Manobi Bandopadhyay among others.

Dolly Basu

The programme dedicated a moving introductory video to each of the awardees where their fans from Kolkata paid tribute to their favourite celebrities, sharing the various ways on how these icons have touched their lives. Besides the trophy, the awardees were presented with a traditional ‘uttoriyo’ (scarf) and gifts.

Uthup, who was lauded for her excellence in music, dazzled in a Kanjivaram silk and rocked the stage with her natural charm and showmanship. Talking about her craze for silk, she shared how she had started her career wearing her mother’s Kanjivaram. She was even wearing a pair of kanjivaram sneakers. “If you see any lady wearing sneakers with a sari, you know where it started,” she said wittily and winked.

Receiving the award, she said it made her feel more responsible and to start afresh. Spreading the message of equality on Women’s Day, she said, “I believe that women are shakti and hence don’t need any kind of liberation.”

Alokananda Roy

Roy, who works to reform jail-inmates through art and love therapy, received the Tumi Annanya salute for her excellent contribution in social service. She perfectly expressed the purity of mother-children relationship that she shares with the innumerable convicts she works with.

“I have been a mother to both boys and girls in the prison. It means a lot to them to receive not just love but acceptance as human beings. For me it is the touch therapy as nobody touches them.

That little touch means a lot as it gradually creates a bonding between the mother and so many children,” she said. Referring to the mythological character of Gandhari from the epic Mahabharata who had a hundred children, she added, “I have beaten Gandhari as I have more than a hundred children. By reforming themselves, they have transformed my life.”

Koel Mullick

Presenting an insightful perspective of Women’s Day, she urged all ladies to think of themselves as mother-a woman who does not differentiate between a boy and a girl.

Shankar was recognised for her outstanding contribution in the field of dance. While blending traditional Indian dances with modern western ballet expressions, she has forged her own signature in the medium while operating within the parameters of tradition and evolved a language of dance which has been accepted by audiences all over the world.

Driven by the thought that a true feminist is one who believes in gender equality, the organisation also recognised the virtuous efforts of a man who worked throughout his life to curb gender bias and promote women empowerment.

He is the sheriff of Kolkata and former journalist Utpal Chatterjee who was felicitated as Tumi Annanyo. Sharing the noble purpose of the award, Swati Goswami from Beyond Dreams said, “A woman is, if not two steps ahead, in the same stage with a man. Tumi Annanya is an award to honour those women who have shown and proved this time and again, on their own accord.”