Mahabanoo was chosen by Femina Magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in India in 2007. Human rights activist and author Zerbanoo Gifford, in her book Secrets of the World’s Inspirational Women, has featured Mahabanoo as one of the 200 Most Inspirational Women from around the World. She has just been awarded the
Karmaveer Puruskar Maharatna Award (a Rex and UN initiative) for her work in
women’s and girl’s empowerment and social justice. Mahabanoo is trained as a microbiologist and geologist, but in her adult life took up
her first passion – performance. She is an actor, director and producer in film,
television, theatre and radio with over 60 credits to her name in India and abroad. She
is also a social justice advocate working diligently in the arenas of women’s
empowerment and trying to end violence against women globally. In 2018 she
received the inaugural H.E.R. Award for her commitment to women’s empowerment.
In the same year she also was honored with the inaugural W.O.W. (Women of Wonder) Award for exemplary women achievers in various fields. In 2011 she received the prestigious Karmaveer Puraskar (a part of an U.N. initiative) for her work towards social justice and ending violence for women and children. Mahabanoo is also the cofounder of The Make-A –Difference Foundation which raises funds and awareness to
combat violence against women and children. The foundation has worked hard to end
violence against women and girls with a variety of projects and programmes in urban school and colleges alongside economically disenfranchised women in the “bastis” of Mumbai.
Recently she was selected for a prestigious Summer Directing Course at Yale University (USA). She has worked with Indian and international luminaries such as
Amitabh Bachchan, Prunella Scales, Richard Johnson, Sanjay Leela Bhansali,
Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Shabana Azmi, and the late Om Puri amongst many others. Some of her best known films are: Black, The Sixth
Happiness, Buddha Mar Gaya, Afterglow, Vintage Rusi, amongst many others. As the
owner of Poor-Box Productions, one of India’s premiere theatre companies
Mahabanoo has produced, directed and starred in some of India’s most critically acclaimed works and longest-running shows in English and Hindi including Shirley
Valentine, Art, (W)Hole In The Head! and now in its seventeenth year in India, The Vagina Monologues (in Hindi and English).
In 2008, Mahabanoo founded The Make-A-Difference Foundation, created to use the
arts to raise awareness and funds for issues related to social justice and women’s
empowerment. Much of the work done by the foundation has been to raise awareness for and funds towards ending violence against women and children all over India.
Through this foundation she has collaborated with luminaries like Eve Ensler, Oscarwinning actors – Jane Fonda and Marisa Tomei, and Bollywood luminaries Farhan
Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar, Imran Khan & Loveleen Tandan, Chitrangada Singh, Mansi
Scott, Suchitra Pillai, Usha Uthup and others. The foundation works at every strata of society from the “bastis” to the elite schools/colleges.
Minakshi Chaudhry, a masters in Journalism, Mass Communication and Law , Minakshi worked with the Indian Express where she wrote a fortnightly column, ‘Shimla Roundup’. She is a keen observer of people, culture and lifestyle and is fond of trekking and travelling. Her books include More Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills,
Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills, Whispering Devdars, Destination Himachal and Sunshine.