Gul Makai in bloom
In an interesting exchange of messages on Twitter earlier this month, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner education activist, Malala Yousafzai, had shared an invite from the principal of the Oxford University to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for a lecture and interaction with students at the University's Lady Margaret Hall. She asked, "Still waiting! SRK." To which, Shah Rukh Khan replied, "Most certainly would love to do it and meeting you will be a privilege. Will put my team to schedule it sooner than soon." Yousafzai met another Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra last year during the 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly in New York. After the meeting, Yousafzai tweeted, "Can't believe I met Priyanka Chopra". She also shared a photo of the two beautiful ladies leaning against each other that went viral overnight. Within a span of nine hours, the photo was 'liked' over 16,500 times and retweeted over 2,200 times. Chopra who is now based in New York quickly replied on Twitter, "Oh Malala no words will be enough...I can't believe I..met..U!! You're just a young girl with so much heart..and such achievements. so proud." Later, the actor too shared her picture with Yousafzai on Instagram with a more detailed message that revealed how much of love, respect, and warmth she had for the young activist. She wrote: Priyanka Chopra. I could write a novel about how smart, incredible, inspiring, encouraging and funny this young woman is...but I will keep it brief. "Malala, you are an undeniable force to be reckoned with. The world knows that. You are a role model to all the girls and boys that want to make this world a better place for the future. Spending a few hours with you and your incredible father Mr Yousafzai (who reminds me so much of my father), I realized you're also just a young girl with young dreams. Your jokes, Your love for Hindi Films, your infectious laughter will always remind me of what a huge responsibility you have taken on at such a tender age.. I'm so proud to know you my friend. You inspire women like me all over the world. Can't wait to speak to u in our secret Hindi/Urdu again. ❤️" In September 2015, Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor had a chance meeting with Yousafzai during Global Citizen Festival which he attended in the capacity of the International Champion for Global Goals and India Ambassador for the Global Citizen Festival. Later, he posted a picture of him with Yousafzai with the following message: The first and only time I remember asking someone for a picture. She gives humanity hope for a better future @MalalaFund #Malala. Bollywood producer Anand Kumar is making a film, Gul Makai, based on the life of Yousafzai and it is scheduled to be released later this year or early next year. Gul Makai was the pen name of Yousafzai under which she used to write blogs on BBC Urdu service about her experiences in the Swat valley when it came under the control of the Taliban in late 2000. The Taliban banned young girls from going to schools and put pressure on Yousafzai's father who ran a chain of schools to stop the admission of girl students to his schools. Gul Makai is the name of a heroine from a Pashtun folktale and literally, it means maize flowers. Maize is one of the main crops in the Himalayan mountains and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from where the Yousafzai family come from. Today, Yousafzai is an international icon and heads Malala Fund, which offers financial assistance for girls education in many countries including India. At the tender age of 20, she has already hundreds of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies who contribute generously to the Malala Fund. She is equally popular among the heads of states around the world and a celebrated speaker on girls education and rights at UN functions and parliament of different countries. Her love for India is all too well known as reflected by her meetings with Indian Bollywood stars. She has expressed her desire to visit India many a time but somehow it has not materialised yet. What an inspiration she could be for the young girls and women, especially from the Muslim community, for whom education is still not a priority. Perhaps, the Indian establishment would not like to allow this young lady to become too popular in India to its comfort. But she is still more welcome than sundry Pakistani leaders including the newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan, who can not see India without the prism of Kashmir. Yousafzai has faced the same ordeal at the hands of militants in Pakistan as the ordinary Kashmiris are facing in India. It's about time, we allowed leaders from the younger generation to write the India-Pakistan narrative afresh. The Gul Makai is the same on both sides of the border in the picturesque Kashmir.