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On the wings of change

chandigarh Updated: Aug 06, 2013 09:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

LEADING FROM THE FRONT They started at the bottom of the ladder, only to use their age to their advantage and make it to the top. In the third of our six-part series, meet youngsters from the region who are firing change in the fields of their choice.

Prabhleen Sandhu
29, actor, Ferozepur

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She started her career in 2004 by playing a cameo in Punjabi movie Yaaran Naal Baharan, which was followed by Punjabi movies Ek Jind Ek Jaan and Mehndi Wale Hath (2006). After moving to Mumbai in 2008, she landed Krant’s role in Colors’ Mohe Rang De. Prabhleen became a household name when she later acted in Zee TV’s Aapki Antra in 2009. She made her Bollywood debut in 2011 in Ramgopal Verma’s Not a Love Story, and followed it up by Punjabi movie Rahe Chardi Kala Punjab Di (2012).

Recently, she garnered appreciation for her role in Bollywood movie Sixteen. Her upcoming film Shahid is based on lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in Mumbai in 2010. The movie is being produced by Anurag Kashyap and Sunil Bohra, and has already travelled many film festivals — Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) 2012, Dharamshala Film Festival 2012, Mumbai Film Festival 2012. Besides being an actor, Prabhleen has also been the co-producer of films Trishna (by Michael Winterbottom) and upcoming film Malegaon Ka Superman. Her upcoming Punjabi movie is Dheeraj Rattan’s Ishq Garari.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?
A. Saina Nehwal, because of the dignity with which she handles her profession and success.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?
A. I wish to see Indian citizens realise their social responsibility. We need to change the ‘blame the system and get away’ attitude. We all need to contribute equally to make the country grow.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?
A. It is the Indian youth’s attitude to attain whatever they set their eyes on. Let’s face it, most developed nations offer a lot more to their youth than our country does. But, our youth has displayed courage to go beyond what is available and excel even on foreign lands in different fields. That’s the attitude that defines Indian youth.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?
A. Any change requires fuel. Empower the youth with fuel across all walks of life and see them bring about a change instantly. Today, this is possible because our youth has stopped discriminating on the basis of caste and social status.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?
A. There is a lot we have to put our minds to — corruption, religious divide, the ignorant attitude towards our social duties, discrimination on the basis of sex — a lot has to change. But, it can be done. Imagine an India where every actor becomes as socially responsible as Aamir Khan, every businessman has a conscience like Narayan Murthy, every politician has the straight-forwardness of Jyotiraditya Scindia and you will witness a wave of progress.

Guneet Monga
29, producer and CEO, Sikhya Entertainment and AKFPL, Batala

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She has been one of the youngest CEOs in the entertainment industry, was one of the ‘Top 50 Indians to Change India’ by India Today and was featured among 12 women acclaimed producers internationally by Hollywood Reporter. Guneet Monga started off as a production assistant with her best friend’s mother and ended up producing two films — Dasvidaniya and Say Salaam India — in her early 20s.

It was during the line production of Once Upon a Time in Mumbai for Balaji that she met Anurag Kashyap and together they formed Anurag Kashyap Films Private Limited (AKFPL). So far, Guneet has done films such as Micheal Winterbottom’s Trishna, Gangs of Wasseypur, Aiyya, That Girl in Yellow Boots and Peddlers, and is now forward to Haraamkhor, Vakratunda Mahakaaya, Danis Tanovic’s next with Emraan Hashmi, The Lunchbox and Monsoon Shootout, amongst others.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?
A. I am young myself. I don’t have any icons; I have people I respect and look up to and those
will always be my parents and Anurag Kashyap.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?
A. I’d like to see more content-driven films being produced and our films actually being released in a lot more non-traditional markets, and enjoyed by everyone.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?
A. I think the fact that we are unabashed, honest and are now able to voice our opinion is great. There’s a sense of ‘reality check’ with the youth today. We have learnt to question everything and I believe that from questioning and inciting a discussion, we are able to derive true meaning and knowledge. It is already being reflected in the sort of films we have begun making.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?
A. What we need in the country is experiential learning. More youngsters need to move out of their comfort zones and be more geared towards wanting to break norms and experience newer and more challenging environments. Ideally a cross-exchange programme or vocational/experiential programmes within industries and countries would allow that.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?
A. I have always believed that cinema is the window to what is happening in the nation. I think we need to make a lot thought-led cinema. As human beings, we are extremely impressionistic. The change should begin there.

Ritu Rani
22, skipper, Indian women hockey team, Shahabad, Haryana

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Belonging to Shahabad, considered a nursery of Indian hockey, Ritu, a hard working forward, has made a name for herself with some stellar performances for team India. Ritu has led India in many Junior and A assignments and won a silver in the Junior Asia Cup. She scored a hat-trick at Kazan in the Champions Challenge in 2009. She was appointed as the skipper of Indian team for the FIH World League Hockey (round 3) held in Netherlands in May 2013.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?
A. Surinder Kaur, former Indian hockey skipper, for her sporting skills. She was my inspiration behind pursuing hockey.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?
A. Equality and security for women is a must if we dream of becoming a developed nation someday. India also needs to get rid of corruption; the government and higher-ups need to see that there is all-round development in every sphere. As a sportsperson, I think we need to be provided with world-class facilities too.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?
A. Hard work best defines the young spirit of India. Today, we youngsters know that we can
achieve anything through dedication and perseverance.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?
A. The youth is already spearheading many changes in India. Education and awareness stand evidence of the fact that today’s youth is capable of changing what they don’t like.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?
A. Education, equality for women and better healthcare for all.

The Lawrence school, Sanawar
students and mountaineers

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Ajay Sohal, 16, Manali; Fateh S Brar, 16, Muktsar; Hakikat Singh, 16, Sangrur; Shubham Kaushik, 17, Sonepat; Prithvi Chahal, 17, Patiala; Guribadat Singh, 17, Delhi; Raghav Joneja, 15, Moradabad.

On May 21, 2013, this bunch of teenagers created two world records — they became the first team from a school to scale the Mount Everest and also the youngest ever to do so. To achieve this feat, the Sanawarians braved extreme weather conditions, jet storms and other adversities. All this was achieved after a seven-month long extensive training, which included basic and advanced mountaineering courses and high-altitude training. All but one, Hakikat Singh, made it to the top. Hakikat had to stop at the final push for the summit after a technical snag in his oxygen cylinder. The idea of scaling the highest mountain peak in the world came when Himalayan Mountaineering Institute director, Colonel Neeraj Rana, interacted with the students, and as they, say rest is history. At the age of 15, Jonjea also became the youngest Indian to scale the peak.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?
A. Milkha Singh. We knew about achievements even before the movie, but didn’t know his life story. His story made us realise how many difficulties he had to surmount to achieve his goals. We all went to see the movie together and returned thoroughly inspired.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?
A. The drug menace is slowly engulfing our nation and its youth. So, the first goal has to be to stop this menace from spreading. The second focus should be on eliminating corruption from the society.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?
A. The fact that we never give up and have a dedicated approach, coupled with hard work, to achieve our goals.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?
A. Youth power — if united, the power can be used to do complete tasks that are considered impossible. Standing on one’s feet and taking responsibility can drive the youth to become the change-makers of the society.


Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?
A. Eradicating the drug menace, which is destroying so many youngsters’ life, should be our top priority. Second should be the elimination of corruption from all fields.

Kamal Khan
24, singer, Patiala

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Kamal learnt how to sing from his maternal grandmother and used his talent to earn money at melas (carnivals) at the age of five. As his passion for music did not go down well with his father, Kamal left home as a youngster and worked at a factory to earn his living, while, of course, being loyal to his riyaaz. At the age of 18, he participated in MH1’s reality show, Awaz Punjabi Di 3 and won it. Two years later, he was mentored by music directors Vishal-Shekhar as a participant (and later winner) of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar. And thus began his affair with Bollywood songs — Walla Re Walla (Tees Maar Khan), Ishq Sufiana (Dirty Picture), Jhooth Boliya (Jolly LLB) and Aakhiya Nu Rehan De (Future Toh Bright Hai Ji). While Kamal has also sung for various Punjabi films, he went on to win the Fresh Singing Talent 2012 award at Zee Cine Awards 2012.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?
A. Sonu Nigam — his unique style of singing, energy and stamina on stage inspire me.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?
A. I’m not sure we can encapsulate the different genres of Indian youngsters in the term ‘Indian youth’. According to me, only 30% of the youth is making an effort to preserve Indian culture and its morals.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?
A. Change begins at home. If youngsters follow the right path and adopt good habits, their friends will follow suit. In the recent movie Raanjhanaa, I liked the ideologies adopted by Abhay Deol’s and Sonam Kapoor’s characters. Every youngster can adopt those ideologies.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?
A. Eradicating corruption should be our top-most priority, then comes casteism, which rips the nation apart. Why can’t brotherhood be our religion?


Kiran Sharma
23, NSS volunteer, Jammu & Kashmir

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A resident of Fatehpur Brahmana village, Jammu & Kashmir, Kiran was honoured with the National Youth Award 2011-12 by the President of India for his illustrious work done in the promotion of youth services and education in the state since 2007. A volunteer in the Gandhian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Jammu and NSS, he was selected in the 20-member Indian Youth Delegation for an international youth exchange programme held in South Korea and was also nominated as the Country Youth Representative, Commonwealth Youth Caucus, Asia Centre in 2010 and 2012. He also attended the National Youth Festival, 2012, as a guest to celebrate ‘Diversity in Unity’ by Karnataka government.

This was his third National Award conferred by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. Earlier, he has been honoured with the Indira Gandhi NSS Award 2010-11 and National Performance Award in Academic Session in RD Camp by Rajiv Gandhi National Institute for Youth Development, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, 2009.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?
A. I have been inspired by teachings of Swami Vivekanand and Bhagat Singh. Swami Vivekanand has served the youth and the country through his teachings. Going by his teachings, my ambition in life is to set in motion a machinary that will bring noble ideas to the common man’s doorstep.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?
A. I would like to see India become better educated and healthier. Successful education policies form the bedrock of all fields of development — political, economic, technical, scientific, social and environmental. Education is the foundation for a vibrant democracy, growth of productivity, income and employment opportunities. There also is an impending need for the upliftment of women.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?
A. Our spirit lays in the fact that youngsters constitute a large segment of our population — greater the proportion of young people, greater the likelihood of cultural and social change. The nature of this change can be productive or destructive, depending on how youth energies are channelised.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?
A. In our country, projects and programmes have been laid out well; we just need to see that they are executed in the right manner. History stands evidence that it’s only the youth that brings about a major change in the society. Present need is to plan strategies for youth development. Problems of our economy such as corruption, dirty politics, poverty, unemployment, inflation etc call for immediate attention.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?
A. Ensuring education for all, while paying attention to the sex ratio in government schools. The government also needs to keep a close watch on dropouts, who are usually the children who succumb to their parents’ pressure of earning livelihood for the house.