By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | February 13, 2018
Partnering with SEWA (Self Employed Women Association) and Impulse Social Enterprise for boosting women entrepreneurship in the country, e-commerce titan Amazon (on Sunday, February 11, 2018) launched ‘The Saheli Store’ for products curated by women entrepreneurs, in its India business.
The Saheli store will feature unique items produced locally by these women entrepreneurs and bringing the two together is Samaaj Scope Films headed by the young and dynamic, 20-something Shaza Morani with her short film, ‘Hansiba’. This is the third Social Cause short film that has been produced by Shaza, the earlier ones being ‘The Green Batti Film’ and ‘Teach For India’.
“We facilitated their association with amazon, and from here amazon will be taking it forward,” reveals Shaza who is happy with the feedback the short film has been receiving since its release. Hansiba, directed by Varun Lalwani, empowers these indomitable women of SEWA, who are quintessential examples that great products are backed by even greater stories.
And giving his voice and credence to these rural women and to their story is the indomitable man of Bollywood himself, Shah Rukh Khan, who Shaza cannot thank enough. “Shah Rukh Khan has the biggest heart. He is known to always lend his support to women empowerment. I can’t thank him enough for doing this. He’s my absolute favourite,” says Shaza. Knowing Khan helped, but waiting for his time was worth the wait!
Shaza is the younger daughter of Karim and Zahra Morani. A product of the New York Film Academy, Shaza has worked as an AD on Always Kabhi Kabhi and Happy New Year. She has no plans to don the grease paint like big sister Zoa and has always been interested in production and direction.
Opening Doorz caught up with the reluctant Shaza thanks to big sister Zoa, who unveiled her work!
What’s Samaaj Scope Films all about?
Ours is a Social Cause Marketing Production House and we started two years ago. It’s a first-of-a-kind production house which makes films for social causes.
How would you define that: Social Cause Marketing Production House?
Our goal is to entice the youth to react to socially relevant topics and hopefully create a shift in their perception for the good via the powerful medium of film. We can do this by marrying a brand to a socially relevant topic that fits them, to creating advertising.
How did this production house come about? I mean, was the idea always only to create films to create social awareness?
Yes. It’s always been my aim to direct and produce films and I’m a person who is generally inclined towards social causes. So this is doing both things I love.
How do you get a cause to work on? Do NGOs approach you, or does your team research on which NGO to feature?
My experience till now has been a mutual association. But I’m eagerly waiting for others to approach me.
Can you throw some light on Hansiba? How did it come about? What were your impressions about the women and the craft that has been featured and how will they be helped?
The women from SEWA are the most inspiring women on planet earth. Most of them have even more confidence than me. They’ve been a delight to work with and I’ve learnt so much from them. They will hopefully get lot of sales from amazon after the promotion of this film.
How did you learn about these women?
My partner Samyak Chakrobarty has known SEWA’s head Reemaben for a long time. I got lucky.
What was their reaction when they heard about the reason for filming them and a tie-up with amazon?
These women are very enthusiastic and always eager to learn. We had a seminar for them to learn e-commerce and what goes behind it. It’s amazing because their background does not affect their thirst for knowledge and they are not afraid of trying something new.
And amazon saheli will be able to give a boost to their products?
It’s a great initiative to empower women from all around India. It was a perfect match for Hansiba. I’m glad we were able to get the two together. Hopefully, women and men all over will buy these hand-crafted products.
What has been the success with the earlier two short films? Has your objective been met?
The NGOs we worked for were supremely happy and that makes it a job well done for me.
The Green Batti was quite an interesting concept… what has been the progress on that. Do you’ll keep a tab? Or does your intervention end with the construction and production of the film?
We only do the production. I believe they had a great run.
Getting Shah Rukh Khan as a voice-over for Hansiba is a huge plus. How did you manage to do that? Weren’t there any budget constraints?
He has the biggest heart. He is known to always lend his support to women empowerment. I can’t thank him enough for doing this. He’s my absolute favourite.
Was it difficult to convince him to be a part of this?
Not at all: I just needed a whole lot of patience to get his very precious time [smiles]. It was more than worth the wait.
Two years now with Samaaj Scope, any plans to branch out into production of Bollywood films?
Eventually yes. One step at a time! I’d love to do a web series, too.
Note on SEWA: SEWA is a trade union registered in 1972. It is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. These are women who earn a living through their own labour or small businesses. They do not obtain regular salaried employment with welfare benefits like workers in the organised sector. They are the unprotected labour force of our country.
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