With windswept mane and an infectious grin Neena Pillai hardly looks the woman who has braved many a storm. In Kerala for the launch of her new venture, the upcoming women’s channel Sakhi TV, she sounded absolutely upbeat about her new role as the channel chairperson.
Neena says though it’s a channel meant for women they have no plans to air weepy saas-bahu sagas portraying women as the weaker sex to raise the TRPs. “We will be showcasing women of valour, the true icons of womanhood. I think it’s a unique platform for women, not in the social angle alone,” she says. The USP of Sakhi is that, the concept of a channel operating exclusively for the female folk has never been explored before. “Since it’s a television channel dedicated to the cause of women we are planning to launch a bunch of shows that will inspire the women population, helping
them to evolve wiser and stronger. I would love to give it all my time and dedication as the chairperson,” she says.
She adds that there will be no ‘sing and win a crore’ programmes or other staples channels usually go for. “There will be a helpline so that those in need of help will know where to reach out. Our expectations of the channel are very high and we want Sakhi to make a mark.”
Trading in the stock market, helming a business empire, patronising art through her gallery and auction house, funding numerous philanthropic endeavours – Neena agrees she is an entrepreneur, author, art patron and activist rolled into one. “I was never exhausted juggling the roles. In fact I love the different hats I wear, my sense of self evolves from all this,” she says. “I believe a woman has to be multifaceted. She should be able to find a unique harmony out of the physical and metaphysical,” she says.
She adds that her role as a mother is something that she cherishes the most. “I raised my sons as individuals with high ethics, as kind gentlemen who can really respect women. I consider it a great achievement in our sexist society,” she says.
Neena says she feels the role of women is underplayed in our society. “I agree that men come from Mars. But I wonder why we are considered the ‘second gender’ and I feel we should continue with our battle for equality. I am a fighter basically and it’s the inner strength of a woman that keeps me going.”
Neena says her late husband Rajan Pillai is responsible for moulding her into the strong and independent individual she is today. She remembers there was a time in her life when she was totally shattered and hardly knew how to pick the petals up. “I could have vanished into domesticity after my husband’s death, but I preferred to walk forward. I think my husband will be proud of me from wherever he is watching.”
Neena feels resilience is an important aspect of womanhood. “The ability to bounce back, the might to rise from the ashes – that’s what makes a woman,”
says Neena who waged a long war with judiciary following her husband’s death.
“The court system in India is a real maze and you can very well get lost in it. In my case, there were several factors that kept on pushing me back to square one. When you fight against power your struggle will be doubly uphill. I believe
‘justice delayed is justice denied’ and I really wish our judicial system was a little more proactive,” she says.
Neena strongly feels being in P3 doesn’t reduce one to a social butterfly or wearing khadi doesn’t automatically upgrade you to an activist. “Style and substance can go together and I feel all young girls should aspire to be beautiful both inside and outside. There is no rule book that says well groomed women can’t represent social causes,” she says.