In the world of entertainment, sports and politics, there has always been a stupendous representation from the North. This year is slated to be no different either, with the many young and promising men and women from the region clearly focussed on their goals. Their priorities are set and their time is spent on honing their skills to perfection. Fame is elusive and volatile, but not out of reach and most have already had a sweet brush with it. We bring 14 of them, though the list is by no means exhaustive, with many others waiting in the wraps, ready to be discovered.
Varun Sharma, 23, Actor
Blast from the past: Born in Jalandhar, Varun is currently based in Mumbai, where he is chasing his tinsel town dreams. Having grown up on a “steady diet of films”, Varun says he was sure from the beginning that films are his true calling.
Crowning glory: The irresistibly charming ‘Choocha’ in the blockbuster Fukrey, Varun made a sure-footed entry in Hindi films in 2013. “In the film, I play a vulnerable and lovable Delhi boy who is a dreamer. My performance was accepted by both critics and the masses,” he says. Varun was also seen in the September release Warning.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I think the period of struggle is a period of learning and it continues all your life. I am proud of my journey from Jalandhar to Mumbai and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s the struggle that makes success taste sweet,” he says.
An icon you want to work with: “Amitabh Bachchan. I still remember the adrenaline rush I had for weeks after watching Deewar.”
What you’ll definitely do: “I hope I never lose my humility. And, I most definitely will continue to dream, hope and aspire,” says Varun.
Plans for 2014: “I recently finished shooting for the Punjabi film Yaaran Da Katchup. I’d also love to buy a house in Bandra this year,” he says.
Vikramaditya Singh, 24, Politician
Blast from the past: Born in Shimla, Vikramaditya Singh, son of Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, did his schooling from Bishop Cotton School, Shimla. After graduating in history (honours) from Hans Raj College, Delhi, he enrolled in masters (history) at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.
Crowning glory: Winning the Himachal Youth Congress president elections in 2013. Vikramaditya also runs a non-government organisation called the Himachal Pradesh Sports, Culture and Environment Association (HPSCEA). He is a national level shooter as well.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I had contested the Himachal Youth Congress elections in 2011 and won by a big margin, but the elections were later cancelled. I continued to struggle and learn. I want to create my own identity and carve my own niche.”
An icon you want to work with: Rahul Gandhi. “I believe Rahul ji brought democracy in the party.”
What you’ll definitely do: “We are ensuring victory in all the four parliamentary constituencies. I would also want to end the ‘VIP culture’ prevalent in the state,” he says.
Plans for 2014: “My aim is to create better coordination. I will also ensure that the state has good means of education and employment for everyone. I will keep working hard and deliver my best,” vows Vikramaditya.
Anjum Moudgil, 19, Shooter
In the new year, Anjum wants to focus on physical fitness and rifle training. The shooter also wants to make sure that she continues to play with passion without being distracted by anything.
Blast from the past: Born, brought up and based at Chandigarh, Anjum is currently a second year student of B.A. (honours in psychology) at DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh. A part of the Under-19 Indian shooting team, Anjum started learning the ropes of the sport in 2008. She has played seven international competitions so far (three in Germany, two in Czech Republic, one in Doha and one in Iran) and won two silver and three bronze medals. She has also played six shooting nationals and won 39 medals.
Crowning glory: In the Master Shooting Competition that took place in Delhi in 2013, she had beaten Olympian shooter Anjali Bhagwat in the 10 meter air rifle event and won a gold medal.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I would like to keep struggling. I don’t have a personal rifle for the 50 meter event, which I want to buy.”
An icon you want to work with: “I would like to work with everyone who excels in his/her work so that I get to learn from him/her.”
What you’ll definitely do: “I’ll focus on physical and rifle training and follow whatever my coaches tell me. I will also make sure that I continue to play with passion without being distracted by anything.”
Plans for 2014: To represent India in the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
Prabh Uppal, 22, Model/ photographer
Blast from the past: Born in Jagraon, Ludhiana, Prabh says he would often click pictures and edit them himself after learning to edit online. “I would then upload them on social networking sites. In July 2011, I went to meet a friend in Mumbai and while I was there, I forwarded my pictures to a few people. Soon, I got an offer to model and walked the ramp for the first time in August 2011 for designer Rohit Bal,” he says. Besides modelling, Prabh continues to dabble in photography.
Crowning glory: In just two years since he shifted base to Mumbai, the winner of Gladrags Mr India 2011 has walked the ramp for leading designers such as Manish Malhotra, Rocky S, JJ Valaya, Shantanu & Nikhil, Tarun Tahiliani and Vikram Phadnis. So far, he has walked the ramp for famous events such as Wills India Fashion Week and Lakme India Fashion Week. In advertising, he is the face of Westside and Raymond.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “My own struggle is sweet.”
An icon you want to work with: Steven Spielberg
What you’ll definitely do: “Give my best in every endeavor,” he says.
Plans for 2014: To travel to different countries, walk for international designers and endorse world-known brands. “I have signed with agencies abroad and I will be travelling to London, China and South Africa. My aim would be to represent India on the world arena,” says Prabh.
Badshah,29, Music composer/lyricist/rapper
Blast from the past: Born in Delhi, Badshah aka Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia is based at Chandigarh. While studying civil engineering from the PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh, in 2006, Badshah got exposed to new Punjabi music. “In college, I heard singers such as Rishi Rich, Jean Sean and songs like Punjabi MC’s Mundian To Bach Ke Rahi. I started doing gigs in college, learned to rhyme words and write rap in English,” he says.
Crowning glory: Soda Whisky, that came out in 2007, was Badshah’s first song as a rapper. In 2012, he came out with Saturday Saturday with singer Indeep Bakshi, which was his first song as a music composer, lyricist and rapper. “Your song is a hit if people know its lyrics and if it’s played in cars,” says Badshah about the success of his song. He collaborated with Honey Singh for songs like Khol Botal and Begani Naar and rapped for Get Up Jawani, a hit from the album International Villager.
With Diljit Dosanjh’s Proper Patola, Badshah says he proved himself, adding that he he’d originally written the track for his wife.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “Struggle is when you are not supposed to enjoy. But, I enjoyed every bit of it. I don’t need a godfather because I don’t want to be influenced by anyone,” he says firmly.
An icon you want to work with: “All those who are talented.”
What you’ll definitely do: “I want to be a part of the best music of 2014. I would also like to travel with my wife and keep myself away from negative people,” resolves he.
Plans for 2014: “I have learnt that if you dream big, nothing is impossible. I want to be respected as an artist and human being. Next, I’m launching my 10-track debut album, One, besides which I’m coming up with a Haryanvi album that will launch the first ever Haryanvi popstar.”
Taran Bajaj, 28, Casting director/actor
Blast from the past: Born in district Shahjahanpur, UP, Taran first went to Mumbai in 2006 to act in a play called Bharat Ke Shahedo Tumhe Naman that was put up by actor Jaya Bachchan’s organisation Yuvak Biradri. Taran played the roles of Bhagat Singh, Kartar Singh and Udham Singh in the play. The play’s resounding success meant that he shifted to the ‘city of dreams’ for good in 2009.
Crowning glory: Taran has since made a name for himself in the world of casting and acting. His films as a casting associate are F.A.L.T.U., Love Express, Mausam, Son of Sardaar, Rangrezz, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, Ek Thi Daayan, Fukrey, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Once upon a Time Dobaara. As an actor, he has done six films, like John Day, Zanjeer, Love Sex Aur Dhokha and Love Express. As a casting director, Taran has almost 30 advertisements to his credit.
Given a choice would you still want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I do have a godfather, but for me, he’s the divine power. The path that he has chosen for me is in my best interest,” feels Taran.
An icon you want to work with: Amitabh Bachchan.
Things you’ll definitely do: “I will create a strong network for aspiring actors which would help reduce their period of struggle. I would definitely stay away from negativity.”
Plans for 2014: “In this field, one cannot plan. Luck plays a major role, so I would go wherever destiny takes me. My upcoming films that I have helped put together a cast for are Dedh Ishqiya, Phantom, Shuddhi, The Xpose, 21 Topon Ki Salami and Byomkesh Bakshi. As a casting director, I’m looking forward to Little Heaven Inside Me, an Indo-Canadian film.”
Komya Virk, 25, Actor
Blast from the past: Chandigarh-born Komya was raised in Canada, where she aspired to be an actor in Indian films. After graduating in business administration from the University of Victoria, Canada, she returned home and moved to Mumbai to try her luck in films. “I got involved in theatre workshops. Acting came naturally to me and soon, I got offers from Telugu and Punjabi films,” she says.
Crowning glory: Komya has shot for two Telugu films, M2 — Music Magic and Gamer Filmung and three Punjabi films — Ik Wari Han Karde, Sau Mundey and Appan Vehle. All the films will see a 2014 release.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “There are no godfathers.
There is only a God and a father,” believes she.
An icon you want to work with: Abhay Deol and Jimmy Sheirgill.
What you’ll definitely do: Keep at it and not give up.
Plans for 2014: Work with eminent directors and do meaningful cinema.
Bunty Bains, 25, Lyricist
Blast from the past: Belonging to village Dhanethe in Patiala, Bunty says he would find it exciting as a child to see lyricists put their name in the lyrics of a song. Then on, he too dreamt of having his name in a song and started creating parodies. In 2005, Bunty shifted base to Chandigarh. Two years later, his first song as a lyricist was out, Teri Meri, Meri Teri, sung by Raavi Bal.
Crowning glory: Bunty has penned songs for Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Honey Singh, Bohemia, Preet Brar, Miss Pooja, Kaur B, Roshan Prince, Surjit Khan and Jazzy B. “I have also conceived the albums of many singers, Kanwar Grewal and Roshan Prince amongst others. An album’s conception includes deciding who gives the music, where the video is to be shot, release date etc,” he says.Bunty’s latest claim to fame is writing the hook line of the song Aaj Botlan Khullan Do, from the Hindi film Boss.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I haven’t struggled for work. Whatever I had wished for, happened,” smiles Bunty.
An icon you want to work with: “I want to write songs that feature the Khans.”
What you’ll definitely do: “Now that I have made a name for myself in Punjab, I am eyeing Bollywood. I want every TV channel to be playing my songs,” he wishes.
Plans for 2014: Bunty has written the lyrics for Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s upcoming album (which he has also conceived), Jazzy B’s single called Tu Banja Meri Darling, singles of Roshan Prince, Kamal Khan and Kanwar Grewal. “I’m also going to write for and conceive a collaboration by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Kaur B. Upcoming Hindi film Zalim Delhi’s title track has been written by me.”
Simranjit Kaur, 18, Boxer
Blast from the past: Born in Jagraon, Punjab, and currently based in Chakar, district Ludhiana, Simranjit comes from a humble family. One amongst four siblings, her father works at a liquor shop and mother is a housewife. Simranjit started boxing when she was in Class 10. The only formal training that she received was at the Sher-e-Punjab Sports Academy, Chakar. The amateur boxer says she is eternally grateful to Balwant Singh Sandhu, who coaches her.
Crowning glory: Winning a bronze medal at the 2013 AIBA (Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur) Women’s Youth World Boxing Championship in Albena, Bulgaria, in which 33 other countries participated. She represented Punjab (in the Under-19 category) in the 58th National School Boxing Championship that was held in May and won a gold.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I’d definitely want a godfather to help me out,” says Simranjit.
An icon you want to work with: “I’d like to work with Katie Taylor from Ireland.”
What you’ll definitely do: “Never give up fighting and always remember god. I also won’t stop fighting with my sister. I’ve vowed not to enter into any romantic relationship,” says the boxer.
Plans for 2014: To prepare for the 2016 Olympics.
Sukh Sanghera, 27, Director/editor/cinematographer
Blast from the past: Sukh, who is currently based in Vancouver, Canada, was born in village Buzrag, district Ludhiana. Before shifting base to Canada in 2007, he was seen as an actor in almost 50 Punjabi music videos. “In 2009, when I was in Canada, I started pursuing photography as a passion. It was followed by learning from the internet the various techniques of photography and editing. In 2010, I launched 10+1 Creations, an Abbotsford-based production company that deals in wedding photography, video direction, editing and providing shooting equipment,” he says. Sukh is also a director with BC Films, for which he shoots various TV series, TV commercials and plays.
Crowning glory: Sukh has directed around 30 Punjabi music videos for singers Sharry Mann, Garry Sandhu, Kamal Khan, Sarabjeet Cheema, Amrinder Gill, Kulwinder Dhillon, Prabh Gill, Manna Dhillon, Jagminder Jimmy, Shinda Multani, Mickey Singh, AS Tari, Sukhjinder Rai, Ranjodh Hayer, Hardeep Cheema and Kulwinder Dhanoa.
An icon you want to work with: Clint Eastwood.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “No one in my family is from this field. Neither had I taken any formal training. Whatever I’ve learnt, is from the internet and by experimenting. So, struggling is better.”
What you’ll definitely do: Keep learning.
Plans for 2014: “In the new year, I’ll be busy shooting music videos for various singers such as J Star and Kamal Khan. However, I don’t plan my life in advance. I’m a fun loving guy and believe in going with the flow,” says Sukh.
Aadil Bedi, 12, Golfer
Blast from the past: The Chandigarh boy of Class 7 in Vivek High School has already played over 150 golf matches and won 95 trophies and medals in national and international matches. Aadil started playing golf when he was all of four and was playing the IGU golf circuit at the age of six. He climbed to the 2nd rank in the IGU National Merit list when he was nine and became the country’s number one player twice at the age of 10 and 12.
Crowning glory: Aadil has played eight international matches so far, won two Albatross International Junior Golf Championships and finished 9th in the UK Junior Masters in 2011. He finished 3rd in the True Vision Golf Championship in Thailand, 2011. The young golfer will start playing in category-B in the main IGU circuit this year and has been confirmed for the European Championship to be held in Scotland in May 2014 and for the Texas Open that would be held in the US in July 2014.
Given a choice would you still want to go with your story of struggle or have a godfather help you out: “Golf is the other name of struggle. You have only a 5-10 percent chance of winning, rest is all struggle. In this game, you have to fight against yourself,” feels Aadil.
An icon you want to work with: “Jesse Grewal, who has been my only coach from childhood,” he says.
What you’ll definitely do: “I willstay away from junk food. I generally avoid playing games on the streets to avoid injuries. I also do not have TV at home, so I don’t watch TV.”
Plans for 2014: “It’s my childhood dream to play at the Augusta National Golf Club for the US Masters. So far, Jack Nicklaus has had the maximum wins in the Majors and Masters. Tiger Woods is also eager to equal those records that were set in 1980 by Jack. I have been keeping an eye on their score and how many matches they played when they were my age. I’ll definitely replace their Grand Slam records,” he says.
Mrighdeep Singh Lamba, 33, Film director
Blast from the past: This Delhi boy comes from a business family. “No one in my family is from the film background, but my father was a big fan of Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt. I have grown up watching films by Vijay Anand and Shekhar Kapur, amongst others. It is because of my father that I am in films,” he says. After studying at the Asian Academy of Film and TV (AAFT) in Noida, Mrighdeep did ad films and corporate videos in Delhi before moving to Mumbai in 2006, where he started work as an assistant director.
Crowning glory: This year, he directed Bollywood film Fukrey, which was produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s Excel Entertainment. “I worked with Farhan Akhtar on Don and with Subhash Ghai on Black and White and Yuvraaj,” says he. He made his debut as a director with Teen Thay Bhai (2011), featuring Om Puri.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I would like to do it on my own, every single time. Those are the values I have learnt from my father,” he says.
An icon you want to work with: Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth.
What you’ll definitely do: “Travel as much as I can for that’s the best way to learn,” says Mrighdeep.
Plans for 2014: Mrighdeep is working on a few ideas, he says, developing scripts that he hopes to start shooting for this year-end. “I hope to keep making good films and entertaining people,” he says.
Seep Taneja, 25, Model/actor
Blast from the past: Born in Patiala, raised in Jalandhar and currently based in Mumbai, Seep was a radio jockey before being chosen as one of the 12 finalists in the Kingfisher Calender Girl Hunt in 2009.
Crowning glory: In 2011, Seep moved to Mumbai to participate in the I Am She — Miss Universe India contest mentored by Sushmita Sen. After finishing as one of the top 18, Seep won the Signature Premier Model Hunt in the same year that got her to walk for ace designers in an international fashion tour.
So far, Seep has walked the ramp for JJ Valaya, Tarun Tahiliani, Varun Bahl, Mandira Virk and Shane & Falguni Peacock and international designers such as Wayne Cooper (Sydney), Frank Tell (New York), Kevin O’Brian (Paris), Christian Blanken (London), Silvio Betterelli (Milan) and Ana Locking (Madrid). More recently, she shot for the promotional song of Salman Khan’s upcoming film Jai Ho.
Given a choice, would you want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “Well, a godfather would have definitely been of great help. But, I’m proud of myself for being where I am on my own. It’s not easy but I would still choose this.”
An icon you want to work with: Anurag Basu and Dibakar Banerjee.
What you’ll definitely do: “I’ll definitely work harder and live my life queen size. I’ll also stay away from controversies,” she says.
Plans for 2014: “I definitely want to do better and achieve more. My next projects are a TV ad for Lux Lycra, Goa International Fashion Week and Bharat Fashion Fest in Rajasthan,” says she.
Manmord Sidhu, 31, Producer/director/distributor
Blast from the past: Born in Muktsar and currently based in Vancouver, Canada, where he shifted base in 2003, Manmord has done a diploma in film production from the Vancouver Film School and a degree in the same subject from the University of British Columbia. He started White Hill Productions in 2007 to cater to film production, line production, ad film making and film distribution.
Crowning glory: Manmord produced the Indo-Canadian film Ocean of Pearls in 2011 and produced and directed Canadian Dreams in 2010. In the realm of Punjabi films, White Hill Productions distributed Jatt & Juliet, Jatt & Juliet 2, Bhaji in Problem, Daddy Cool Munde Fool, Sadda Haq and Carry on Jatta in Canada and the US. They produced Best of Luck and Jatt & Juliet 2, while Manmord finally took the plunge and directed Best of Luck. “Ninety percent of the Punjabi movies in Canada and US are released by us,” he claims.
Given a choice would you still want to struggle or have a godfather help you out? “I would like to go with my story of struggle,” he says.
An icon you want to work with: Aamir Khan.
Things you’ll definitely do: “I will try my best to raise Punjabi cinema’s level and give audiences more variety,” promises Manmord.
Plans for 2014: This year, White Hill Basic Brothers (his India-based company) would release Punjab 1984 and Rambo Ranjha. “I am also producing Jatt & Juliet 3 and two untitled Punjabi films,” he says.
Inputs by Supriya Sharma and Rajesh Krishan