India's Unsung heroes: The woman behind ‘Orani', Eli Ahmed

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Born in an aristocratic family in Nazira, Eli Ahmed is a renowned Indian writer, script writer, director, lyricist, costume designer, actress and social activist. A multifaceted personality, Eli Ahmed also the editor, publisher and proprietor of 'Orani', the only women's magazine in the Northeast since 1970.

The 83-year-old Eli Ahmed was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2017 for her contribution to literature and education. Eli was a child prodigy and had a flair for words from a very young age. She used to recite self-composed poems and children's rhymes as a child.

India's Unsung heroes: The woman behind ‘Orani', Eli Ahmed

Her father, Abdur Rashid, was a surgeon and Eli lost her mother at a very young age. She traces her roots to one of the five Parsi families referred to in Medini Mohan Choudhury's book Luit, Barak and Islam.

Pokhila (butterfly), Beli (sun), Geet (sing), Rong (colour), Jui (fire) were the different names people gave her and each of them was apt. Bhupen Hazarika called her Rong. Eli's first musical feature, Bhagyor Chokori Ghure, was performed in the Nazira session of the Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1962.

She has written lyrics for popular films like Baruar Sansar, Sadari, Sonmaina, Pratidin, Devata etc. She has scripted five documentary films and has been as a story writer for many films.

Apart from being a life member of the Assam Sahitya Sabha, she is also the winner of the national literary prize on adult education for her book Bonphool in 1976. Eli Ahmed received the Dr Nirmal Prabha Bordoloi Award in 2011 and Amalprava Das Award in 2013. She continues to be an inspiration for many women in India.

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