“All humans should have the option to develop their leadership capabilities regardless of their gender”
By Mirela Sula
When Gulrukh was growing up she was not sure what path she wanted to follow as there were so many options available. She was fascinated by music, theatre, film, books and also esoteric and metaphysical subjects. She used to watch a lot of films and documentaries and was especially mesmerised by stories to do with our planet and ecosystem. She also thrived on watching science fiction and romances. She grew up in a professional family and her father was very proactive in promoting visiting artists and musicians from the subcontinent. These artists were either very well known or went on to become big names in their various fields.
In her formative years Gulrukh discovered she had a high degree of sensitivity towards people who were suffering from ailments. She seemed to be able to tune into their pain and facilitate the healing of it; either through listening to them and offering quite advanced advice or by being able to lay her hand on the part of the body where they were experiencing pain – and somehow being able to facilitate its healing. Elderly ladies of her grandmother’s generation used to ask Gulrukh to massage their hands, and she loved doing it.
Your background is a Film-maker and Holistic Practitioner. What motivated you toward this path?
In the 90’s I decided to do some extensive travelling around Asia and South East Asia. I remember standing on a beach in Thailand as the sun was setting and receiving a strong message in my heart that I was to follow the family lineageand professionally assist people to heal. My grandfather was an esteemed Holistic Practitioner in India and used to treat the President of India as well as the Nizam of Hyderabad (the world’s richest man in that period) with Unani or Ancient Greek Medicine. So it seemed inevitable that I should carry this lineage forward. But I wasn’t sure how to go about it.
I was also very keen to make films as I found that they were a complete vehicle to incorporate all the interests that I had. So, during this year and a half long travels, I got the opportunity to work for one of the top Advertising Production Companies in Bombay and learned hands on video production. I decided, at that point, that I should make short films to start off my career. So after returning to London from Asia and making a subsequent 3 month trip travelling around Israel and the Sinai desert, I put together some ‘arty’ short films with material I had filmed there on High8. They showed the spiritual conflict between people in Jerusalem as well as the mystery of the desert and crystal fractals.
My motivations in facilitating others to operate from their highest levels and to heal, is self- explanatory.
Luckily at that point, airlines were on the lookout for short films and Cathay Pacific purchased them to show on their planes. After 4 years or so of freelancing for others, I went on to script, direct and produce my own independent documentaries which covered areas that deeply resonated with me. My involvement in holistic therapies appeared at the same time as I began my film career in London following a sudden car accident – where I couldn’t work for a few months due to bad whiplash. The insurance payout was fairly hefty at that point and I decided to use this time off to begin qualifying in the holistic realms.
My motivations in facilitating others to operate from their highest levels and to heal, is self- explanatory. My motivations in making films is driven by the knowledge that film is an important all round medium and can spread its message internationally to potentially millions of people. People often ask how I can do two things which ‘seem’ to be so far apart from each other. My perception of this is – that we are all multi capable. Leonardo De Vinci is a prime example of showing an ‘all round’ capacity to invent, paint, create scientific theories and so forth. I believe we are all more capable than we give ourselves credit for and can do a multitude of things. The real question is, therefore, not so much ‘how’ we can do a variety of things in our lives (on a career level), but how we can effectively manage our time.
These days the Internet is so easy to promote one’s work and have global meetings. It is possible for me to do work in either of these areas with much greater ease than if I needed to be physically present at meetings or sessions.
You are working as chair for ALL UK and London – for ALL global. Why did you accept to be Chair, and what is your vision?
I accepted the kind invitation by Dr Harbeen Arora, the dynamic founder of ALL global and the Women Economic Forum, to become Chair for the UK Chapter last year, after being invited to attend their Inaugural event in Goa in 2015. I have always had a vested interest in the development and liberation of women. Originating from an Indo-Pak-Afghan background, and growing up in the West, I saw a lot of cultural polarities in the way women were treated – regarding expectations being placed on them to behave in a certain way. I was always inadvertently breaking the expected norms I was supposed to adhere to throughout my life; generally following my heart, rather than what was perhaps expected of me. Women travelling with back packs on their own were not promoted in the Asian culture. I was, fortunately, blessed with open minded, yet traditional, parents. They supported all my ventures, as they had an innate faith in my being Divinely protected. They saw that I was bold and mature enough to stay on an even path. My vision for ALL LONDON is to mobilise women and bring them together. To visibly celebrate female achievements as well as inspiring other women – by showcasing successful women. This will be done through ‘signature events’ that will bring together various women, (and men who support women’s empowerment), via business, holistic, fashion, film and music events; as well as through youth leadership and mentorship programmes.
I feel that this can also be done through collaboration and partnering with other women organisations, as we all have the same vision.
The challenges that women face in the UK are different than those in developing countries, but often more support structures are needed – to help women really step up in their leadership skills. I feel that this can also be done through collaboration and partnering with other women organisations, as we all have the same vision. That is – to tilt the imbalance of yin and yang, currently evident in the world, back to its rightful balance. London is considered the cosmopolitan and cultural capital of the world. There is a huge diversity of women from all creeds and faiths. So we are focusing on creating a diversity of talent coming together, irrespective of labelled backgrounds. And to motivate younger women to learn from women who have risen to successful heights in the work they do – whether it is in their careers, philanthropic work or their social and charity driven enterprises. Even as successful mothers and teachers. We launched ALL London at the end of January 2016 and held a prestigious event at Patron Prince John Zylinksi’s home, ‘The Whitehouse’ in London. He is currently running independently for ‘Mayor of London’ and is supportive of women’s progress. He has been given honorary role of Country Committee Chair for Poland and UK by ALL, due to his public honouring of his grandmother – by him building his home in London in the same palatial style that his grandmother had built. (Her home had been burned down by the Communist Government in Poland). Successful women from all different backgrounds attended the launch, which hosted multi cultured women and men speakers and musical performers – who all gave clear messages about how they worked against challenges to pursue successful careers.
These speakers included Gabriella Cristiani, Oscar winner for Best Editor for ‘The Last Emperor’, Henriett Tunyogi, Prima Ballerina and Actress, Lucia Walker, Producer of the ‘ITN News’ every day in London, Farzana Baduel of award winning Curzon PR, Kaammini Chanrai, founder of Gender and the City website, Farrukh Dhondy, ex Commissioning Editor for Channel 4 and Producer of the controversial film ‘Bandit Queen’. Patron Prince John Zylinkski also spoke about his vision for women taking leadership roles. Dr Harbeen Arora came especially from India for the launch, and shared about the Women’s Economic Forum. Award winning Tim Wheater and Cherabella Sanson played the gongs and did a sound journey to set the tone for the evening, whilst accomplished Chyna Whyne (also known as the High Heels Guru) and the Chyna Dolls performed alongside Ghanian sensation Adjoa Akoma.
I had a phenomenal team to assist, including Amer Mukhtar, Suniya Qureshi, Sasha Saenko, Emeline Nsingi Nkosi, Pilar Camino Alcon, Charmaine Wasif, Aneeqa Malik, Nomy Khan, Kate Carey, Jo Manuel, Tamina Mir and Mahgul Yousufi Zaid. All of them are professional people in their own right, and many spent a lot of their personal time, over several months, contributing their skills to make it a success.
What are your thoughts, as a woman, for the future of humanity, and why do you feel it is important for women to move more into leadership?
I feel, as a woman, that we are now in an age where we have to let go of the stereotypical value systems that have been in place for thousands of years. Women are now much more economically solvent in the West and becoming more so in the East. There is a huge number of highly educated women in areas that normally men would have occupied. A number of men are also opting to let their female partners be the main breadwinners. Humanity is on a tipping scale with regards to environmental and humanitarian related issues. We are definitely seeing patriarchal domination being questioned and addressed. All sentient beings have leadership skills, which we can see across all species. Leadership is not a gender related capability.
There are a huge number of highly educated women now working in areas that normally men would have occupied and an increasing number of men are also opting to let their female partners be the main breadwinners
We require a balance of thinking and global actions taken from both the male and female perspectives. Now is the time to harness the innate strengths that women possess, long cultivated through having experienced childbirth and the raising of families, which have required them to be able to multi task and endure pain; also to manage hardship or physical challenges with dignity and foresight. It isn’t a question of whether women leaders are better, but instead that male and female leadership complement each other by bringing different things to the table. You cannot have one without the other. Therefore all humans should have the opportunity to develop their leadership capabilities – regardless of their gender.
Can you tell us more about WEF in India and what ALL has achieved?
The Women Economic Forum (WEF) is the largest all-inclusive chamber of women in the world currently. It is part of ALL (All Ladies League) global which has over 75 international chapters. In May 2015, the inaugural WEF was held at the Hyatt Hotel in Goa and was a phenomenal success, bringing together women from all over the world in a 5 day event. It attracted a lot of press, as India is still working on issues which women in the West possibly experience a diluted version of. To support WEF many high profile people attended and contributed, including Vidya Balan, one if the highest ranking Bollywood Stars, The Governor of Maharashtra and other key media and business personalities.
The President of India endorsed the event in the ‘Times of India’ paper and the result was a huge increase in female participation and organic groups that sprung up over the country. And also internationally. This year it is being held in Delhi between May 16th and 21st at the Pullman Hotel, and will have over 1500 international delegates from all over the world and all different cultural backgrounds.
It is being supported by a number of eminent personalities including Kuwaiti Royalty, a US Presidential candidate, several Ambassadors, media personalities and Forbes listed entrepreneurs. In addition to pioneers and evolutionaries within many disciplines such as health, technology, business and science. The impact of the work of WEF has been significant, and a number of award programmes have been created off the back of it – to celebrate female achievements in various countries. Women have felt a strong sense of camaraderie from this global connectivity, The WEF event in May 2016 will also be live streamed on the Internet to reach women who cannot attend, in order to motivate them.
There are plans for ALL London to hold a WEF in London in Autumn 2017, to make it easier for women from Europe to attend.
Can you tell us about the Divine Feminine Principle and why this archetype is so necessary to hold up in these times?
The Divine Feminine Principle holds many concepts. It embraces and reflects dignity, grace, nurturing, gentleness, intuition, birthing of creativity, compassion and of course beauty. This means beauty on all levels – from the spiritual to the physical. Not typically labelled beauty but beauty as a composition of these elements, in their variety. We all see the conflicts occurring in the world through wars and injustices against women and men. We see the destruction of Mother Earth. We see the arms industry and corporate giants run by men which do not support the respect of living beings.
Women of the world are standing up and saying ‘enough is enough. We can no longer tolerate this imbalance and abuse of power’. They are asking what will happen to future generations and also life for everyone in this present moment as these crises escalate in their severity. At one time the world lived under matriarchal ruling. Slowly women were pushed out of power and labelled as witches, for the innately developed powers they seemed to possess – which were key components of womens make up; designed to assist them in breeding and maintaining families primarily. These were powers such as psychic capacities – the ability to endure great pain – and the ability to seduce for procreation.
Matriarchy dissolved into a historical situation where women lost their rights and became of service to the needs of men who became the controllers of the planet and all its ruling policies. Now women are claiming back their positions of power and asking for equality, rather than domination which they had to endure for so many centuries. If we do not address this issue seriously, there will be huge repercussions from all that is currently going wrong in the world. The ‘Divine Mother’ within women is calling out for ‘love’ to be the presiding rule – governing change, and for humanity to wake up to ‘unity’, rather than continue to endure the current principle of divide and rule.
Who has inspired you to become who you are today?
There are so many influences in my life. Of course one’s mother is always a major part of anyone’s development and I fully honour my own dear Mother’s wisdom, selfless love and nurturing. Which she still continues to provide. The stories of ancient women leaders, pioneering women like Amelia Earhart, singers like Joni Mitchell, fictitious characters like Scarlett O’Hara from ‘Gone With The Wind’, writers like Simone de Bouvoir, evolutionaries
But I also want to deeply thank my dear Father for having helped nurture my appreciation for culture and bringing people together. I remember once, as a child, coming out of school and he collected me. I wanted an ice-cream from the ice-cream van sitting outside the gates. He gave me money to buy ice creams for two of my friends too. He said, ‘we must always share and it doesn’t matter if they don’t buy you one in return’. This always stuck with me.
Equally, when I was going through a ‘dark night of the soul’ period about 10 years ago, he reinforced the idea of gratitude in me. He quoted, ‘I thought I was poor when I had no shoes, till I saw a man who had no feet’. Even Scarlett O’Hara’s famous last line ‘tomorrow is another day’ has been a major influence in the way I think. As cliched as it may sound, and whether we have been able to fully experience the privilege of having two parents to support us, I believe that somehow the archetype of ‘mother and father’ appear around us as guiding forces, through people we meet in our lives. They don’t necessarily have to be our own bloodline.
“the archetype of ‘mother and father’ appear around us as guiding forces, through people we meet in our lives”
Where do you see you see yourself in 10 years time?
I see myself as having created films and other projects that assist global consciousness, and inspire people to wake up to the truth of who they really are, which are multidimensional beings. Not just these human bodies with limited capacities. In addition to having created a huge global network of inspiring people who can all motivate each other, to create great shifts. Hopefully, I may also be taking extended time to enjoy the beauty of nature and our world, by travelling more and doing more public speaking. I personally would like to see the end of world hunger and also for pure, uncontaminated water to be available to every living being. I would like to see the end of the raping of Mother Earth and of wars as well as the ceasing of the exploitation of our animal siblings for captivity and mass produced meat. I am sure, with all my heart, these things can happen, with more women taking on global leadership.
Gulrukh is a fully qualified Holistic Practitioner in several modalities (Www.allowmiracles.com). She is also an award-winning, International film maker. She has directed, produced and scripted a diverse range of short films, education videos and documentaries. She is currently in post-production for a major new docu-feature coming out called ‘Spirit2Power’ featuring many highly acclaimed World Champions, Masters and Celebrities. The film is due for release in 2016. (www.spirit2power.com)
In addition, Gulrukh is currently also in production on a documentary feature about the Mystery of the Bosnian Pyramids. Robert Watts, the Producer of the ‘Star Wars’ Series, ‘Indiana Jones’ series and ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ is Executive Producer for this documentary feature – to be finished in 2016. Gulrukh made a 4 x 1 hour documentary series on dolphins, marine life and human impact. This won Best Documentary Award at the Moondance Film Festival in NY in 2012. Richard O’Barry, the main subject of this series (‘Blue Velvet In Sinai’), who trained the Flipper dolphins for the popular TV series “FLIPPER’, collected the Oscar for Best Documentary Film for ‘The Cove’, at the 2010 Oscars. (www.bluevelvetinsinai.com)
She produced and co – scripted a short film on Relief Advertising called ‘Mantra for the New Millennium’, along with the (late) award-winning director, Michael Portelly. (Best remembered for his award winning film, ‘Oceans Daughter’and acclaimed Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society TV advertisement – of a boy diving for a pearl). ‘Mantra for the New Millennium’ was shown in the presence of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and business leaders, at “The Festival of Light” in 2000 – at Alexander Palace. The film was subsequently also shown at the UN Peace Summit the following year, in the presence of Kofi Anan, and at International ‘ocean related’ festivals.
Gulrukh also directed a film of a special conference created by Konstantin Pavlides, called Sciartmet (Science, Arts and Metaphysics), held at the United Nations in 2007. It had eminent people from the aforementioned respective fields, discussing how combined efforts could be used in addressing important world issues. Her father’s second cousin is the Bollywood and Internationally acclaimed, award winning Actor / Performer Nasiruddin Shah. Her cousin, Saira Shah, daughter of Idries Shah, is a prolific film-maker and made the Channel Four award-winning documentary, ‘Beneath the Veil’. She is currently UK and London Chairperson of ALL International, under the patronage of Dr Harbeen Arora and Mr Vinay Rai, the founders of ALL and WEF (Women Economic Forum)