Beyond Clichés, Shattering stereotypes

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Aug 27, 2014 17:20 IST

Who makes the rules? No convention holds them back, no challenge disheartens them, and no problem is impossible for them to overcome. The achievers HT features today — the fourth of six sets — epitomise versatility and the can-do attitude that defines young India

Not your typical heroine

Kulwinder Sidhu
29, Bathinda, actor-anchor

Kulvinder Kaur Sidhu, or ‘Kul’, has graduated from a folk dancer in school to a prominent face in the indie and art movie scene besides working in Pollywood projects. Her debut was in 2011 in the national award-winning ‘Anhe Ghore Da Daan’.

She also starred in the short movie ‘Nooran’ (2014) that was presented at the Cannes Film festival. Other movies she’s worked in include ‘Yaaran Naal Baharan-2’, ‘Ajj de Ranjhe’ and ‘Sutta Naag’, the last gathering praise nationally. She’s now busy with Darshan Darvesh’s ‘The Blood Street’ and Amardeep Singh Gill’s short movie ‘Khoon’. Kul is also a popular anchor of the show ‘Studio Bollywood’ on a Punjabi TV channel, PTC Chak De.

Define success.
Fame earned through hard work. Money is important, but it should come through honest work.

Who inspires you, and why?
Anyone who believes in doing honest, quality work inspires me. Sometimes, the performance of a child in a movie can give you the inspiration to stay focused.

What’s your biggest achievement so far, and what’s the goal?
When my debut movie, ‘Anhe Ghore Da Daan’, won the national award, it was the first step towards success. My goal is to become a versatile artiste who is remembered for her work.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.
We need to wipe out poverty, curb unemployment, and improve sanitation.

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal?
Youth must channelise energy and time towards the correct track staying updated on the problems our nation is facing. Educated and motivated youth can prove to be a ray of hope even in dark times.

Is it still difficult for women to be accepted as a serioustheatre artistes?
Such a problem was faced by women a few years ago, but now the situation is improving. On this count, it is unfair to compare with other nations.

How has acting changed your life?
It has converted a shy and reserved girl into a confident and independent woman. I get to live numerous lives.
(By Ashpuneet Kaur Sandhu)

Uniformly brilliant Agnihotri

25, Una Best IPS trainee

Daughter of a bus conductor, Shalini, hailing from Amb area of Una district in Himachal, cleared the civil services exam against all odds. She went into the Indian Police Service (IPS), and was adjudged the best all-round trainee of the 65th batch of IPS. She had secured 285th rank in the exam in 2011 and emerged on top of the batch of 148 at the end of their 46-week police training at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy at Hyderabad.

She also won the Prime Minister’s Baton and the Home Ministry’s Revolver for being the best trainee, besides bagging the Vandana Malik Trophy for the best all-round female officer trainee, LB Sewa Trophy for the best female officer trainee in outdoor subjects, Alakh Sinha Trophy for investigation, GS Arya Trophy for best officer trainee in co-curricular activities and the Home Ministry’s Trophy for best essay writing on ’communal harmony and national integration’.

Shalini, who is currently posted at Shimla, did her initial schooling from DAV School, Dharamsala, and BSc in agriculture. She also qualified the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Junior Research Fellowship exam while pursuing post-graduation at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) at Ludhiana.

How do you define success?
Generally, success is defined in terms of money, making parents proud, or becoming famous. These could be parts, but in the larger context it’s a never-ending pursuit to grow.

Who inspires you, and why?
All those who are toiling hard, and honestly, are my inspiration. My parents have inspired me the most, but there are others too who inspire me.

What’s your biggest achievement so far, and what’s the ultimate goal?
Joining the elite Indian Police Service (IPS) was my childhood dream, but passing out with flying colours, winning the coveted Prime Minister’s Baton and the Home Ministry’s Revolver was more than a dream come true. Ultimate goal is to live an enriching life with no regrets.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation?
Honesty, courage and patriotism are the main requirements.

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal?
I don’t see us growing as an ideal nation unless the youth turns out to be ideal.

How do you intend to pay back to your home state?
I just want to do well in whatever way I can. My contribution would be in making things better, making society free of violence, where women are self-dependent and secure. By being accountable to the people and society, I will have paid back.
(By Bhawani Negi)

On course for success

Feroz Singh Garewal
17, Chandigarh golfer

The teenaged golf champion Garewal is all geared up for a host of international tournaments that will keep him busy for the next couple of months. The most prominent of these will be the Asian Games to be will be held in Incheon, South Korea, from September 19 to October 4. Prior to the Asian Games, Garewal will compete in three back-to-back international tournaments, starting with Asian Junior Team Championship to be held in Gunsan, South Korea and the 2nd Youth Olympics from August 16 to 28.

He studies in Class 12 at DAV Model School, Sector 15, and trains under Jesse Grewal at the Chandigarh Golf Association (CGA) range. In 2013 he was part of Indian team and attained fifth position in the Asian Junior Golf Championship in Korea.

How do you define success?
For me, happiness is success

Who inspires you, and why?
I am inspired by Rory McIlroy, the golfer. He has achieved so much at such a young age. The amount of hard work he puts in is remarkable. I love his swing and the way he plays. He is the next big thing in golf.

What has been your biggest achievement so far, and what is your ultimate goal?
Winning the Asian Games trials and participating in the Youth Olympics are the greatest achievements so far. In the Olympics, I played with the best amateurs in the world. I feel they are really good but I am not far behind. My ultimate goal is to play in PGA tour and win a couple of majors.

Three things that can make India an ideal nation?
Civic sense, population control, and end to corruption

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal?
By becoming role models in improving civic sense and ending corruption, and by creating awareness for controlling population.

What do you have to say to budding golfers?
Enjoy the game! Even if they are not winning now, it doesn’t matter. They are gaining experience, which is all they need when they turn professional.

How can golf be made accessible to the masses in India?
Golf is an upcoming sport in India. I see so many young players and so many junior events happening. I feel, to increase the number of golfers, India needs more academies or more golf ranges, and definitely a large number of top-level golf courses.
(By ashutosh sharma)

'Never forget your roots'

Vikas Thakur
20, Hamirpur/Ludhiana

Vikas bagged a silver medal in the 85kg category at the recently held Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The lifter is a junior warrant officer in the Indian Air Force. He and his family live in Ludhiana in Punjab but hail from Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh. Son of railway man Brij Lal Thakur, Vikas got into weightlifting at the age of nine. He says the proudest moment for him so far has been when he returned from Glasgow and his mother walked to him and hugged him, even as tears started rolled down her cheeks. do you define success?

It is all about remaining rooted to the ground, no matter how big one’s achievement is.

Who inspires you, and why?
My mother Asha Devi and father Brij Lal Thakur are my source of inspiration. It is only because of the sacrifices they have made that I have got the opportunity to represent and win medals for the country. Equally important has been the role of my coach, BS Medhwan.

What has been your biggest achievement, and what is your ultimate goal?
After winning silver at the Commonwealth Games, when I came back home both my parents were brimming with joy. Winning medals has never been my ultimate goal in life. All I strive for is to give my best in any tournament.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.
A. Providing athletes with advanced sports infrastructure, stopping the malice of drug abuse, and weeding out corruption from the system.

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal?
Youngsters should start or become part of initiatives that sensitise people about the socio-economic effects of taking drugs. The same can be done with regard to corruption. Also, youth should join politics.

What was your first thought after winning the CWG silver medal?
I thanked God for helping me live up to the expectations of country, family and friends.
(By Kuldeep Panwar)

Armed with a camera and loads of passion

Siddharth Chauhan

23, Rohru, Shimla


An MBA from Himachal Pradesh University, Chauhan made a short, ‘Boys Don’t Wear Nail Polish’ that won the Golden Halo Award’ at the International Film Festival in Kerala. The film is about a mother’s battle against gender stereotyping, and has been screened at Delhi International Film Festival 2013, Phoneix Film Festival, Kolkata, and International Documentary and Short Film Festival, VIBGYOR 2014.

A native of Rohru, Chauhan has made five short films till date. At the age of 19 he made his first experimental film, ‘Zunei’, about regressive hypnosis, using his sister’s camera. He participated in Indian Film Festival 2011 in Shimla with his film ‘Dreams’ that featured local talent. He also served as festival director for the International Youth Film Festival 2013 held in Shimla. Now he is assiting in Bollywood movies and also plans to continue making independent films.

How do you define success?
It may sound philosophical but success is just the end result of a person’s hard work and dedication. It is simply being at peace with what you could achieve, and setting out on a new journey.

Who inspires you, and why?
I find inspiration in everything around me. From the walls of my house, the fan, the plants, to the sweeper who comes each day to collect garbage from my apartment. Little, sincere things impress me and teach me a lot!

What has been your biggest achievement so far, and what is your ultimate goal?
A year ago, I wanted to make a film on a short story that I had written, and prove to my father that I am made for this! With no professional training or guidance, I prayed, researched, worked hard, did everything I could, to make the film. I shot it in five days and discovered a new self.

Soon I got the Golden Halo Award, second prize in the student category at the SCRIPT International Short Film Festival 2014 held in Kochi in February. The category had seven nominations from across the country. It was my biggest achievement, and a turning point in life. But I don’t know what my ultimate goal is. I am discovering that each day.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.
My idea of an ideal nation would be my idea only. I wouldn’t want my country to be just the way i want it to be. I want it to belong to each Indian.

In what way can youth participate in achieving that ideal?
I feel our every action counts. I have been trying to do that through my films. The youth by uniting and by looking beyond themselves can bring about a big revolution.

How do you intend to pay back to Shimla or your state?
I will not stop making my own individual efforts in making films on my own, as mountains and its people have always mesmerised me. I also plan to help in evolving means and to contribute to bringing film culture to Himachal.
(By Bhawani Negi)

‘Strong mind is the key’

Shubhreet Kaur Ghuman
28, Sangrur dancer

On October 21, 2009, Shubhreet met with an accident and fractured her leg. A botched operation resulted in her losing her left leg and eventually getting a prosthetic limb six months later. As she was fond of dancing since her childhood, her mom did her best in motivating her. And soon she was back on the dance floor in less than a year. She became a celebrity and an inspiration for millions when she appeared on the TV reality show ‘India’s Got Talent’.

Shubhreet feels blessed to have a brother and a sister as her best friends though she lost her father at the tender age of 13. She has done her BSc in nursing and cosmetology and is also a make-up artist. Not one to pretend life is easy, through the love of her family and faith in God, she has overcome adversities that include a marital break-up that played out as headlines recently. But she says that’s over, and her life is now filled with joy and purpose. does success mean to you?

Peace of mind.

Who inspires you and why?

My mother is my biggest inspiration. She taught me never to give up.What has been your biggest achievement so far?

My appearance on ‘India’s Got Talent’. The way the judges and audience reacted to my performance filled me with immense pride.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.
Honest citizens, end of corruption in politics, and hard work.

How can help achieve that ideal?
The youth needs to work hard, and also tackle the drug problem.

How do you stay positive despite challenges?
My mother taught me that I should never develop a negative outlook towards life. She taught me to fight for my rights and never get weighed down.

What are your ultimate goals?
To participate in various dance competitions in India as well as abroad. I also want to open a dance school for amputee children, should they ever wish to learn dance. I don’t want anyone to face the problems I did, least of all children.
(by Nanki Singh)

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