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Actress Sayani Gupta is completely self made. She moved to Bombay against the wishes of her family, and has carved out a space for herself in the competitive film industry. Her latest role is of a 14 year old girl in Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos. Working with Basu is special, she says, because he doesn’t work with a set script, and the role changes so much as one goes along.
We met her at her sea facing apartment one afternoon last week. There is no need to call yourself a struggler, she tells us. The word is too negative. It brings you down, before you start, she says.
Gupta is a big believer in positivity and destiny- If you are meant to do a film you will do it, she says. Is the film industry really that harsh for newcomers we ask her? If you are a woman, you still get better treatment than your male counterparts, she says. She talks about how she has seen hundreds of men at auditions, being dismissed casually.
Her own breakthrough moment came when she was offered a part in Margarita With a Straw. As an actor you have to keep doing your best, and try and hit the truth, she says, while talking about her various roles from theatre to TV to film.
Ultimately it is all about believing in yourself. Gupta knew she had what it takes to be in the industry and that self belief propelled her forward. Her biggest personal turning point was when her mother finally came on board with what she was doing.
You can catch the actress playing a cricket analyst in Amazon’s TV show, Inside Edge. She also has an exciting role in the upcoming international film, The Hungry. Here’s hoping to see a lot more of the actress in the years to come.
15 Year Old Indian girl. Two Wins. Many medals. Meet the winner of 2017 World Cup of Dance, whose victory this year is a hat-trick of wins. That’s right, she’s winner from 2015 and even of 2016. Nothing short of a hip hop prodigy.
Meet Vinaya Seshan, a class 10 student of Inventure Academy in Bengaluru. She loves to dance, and hip hop is her gig. This journey started as an experiment in school, that went on to take her to the global stage.
Vinaya stunned the entire world with her dancing skills and by the end of the competition, was holding three medals at the 2017 Dance World Cup held in Germany. She bagged a Gold medal in the duet category, as well as Bronze medals in the Hip-hop group and Hip-hop solo categories. She beat more than thousand participants from 43 countries in the finals of an event that is known to be one of most celebrated all-genre dance competition for children and young adults in the world.
The Captain of the ship (as her team at the I Am You Dance Studio likes to call her) was part of their squad that won a bronze in the 2015 World Cup and three medals last year.
If her wins have impressed you, wait till you hear her determination. “I don’t have time to spare I swear. I am always doing something. When not dancing, studying. When not doing homework, occupying myself in Football field.” The roots of her hip hop are rooted in kathak.
“Hip-hop is a very new thing in our country, especially for girls,” says Vinaya sharing why we need more women to get into professional dance. “When the society has certain rules for girls to follow, seeing so many women participating in the competition was itself a big celebration. Thankfully, dancing world is not biased towards men as much as it is in other fields.”
When Nupur and Kate met in Bangalore this year, they had no idea how much they’d have in common. Nupur has a background in poetry, and she has lived half her life in India, and half in Singapore. Kate is more of a theatrical person, she has been doing theatre for a few years now and she comes from New Jersey, USA.
Although Nupur and Kate grew up in such different settings, one thing brought them closer – what it means to be a woman in this day and age. There are a lot of issues that women face on a worldwide level such as domestic violence, toxic relationships, someone else policing your body etc. These are some of the topics Nupur and Kate wanted to talk about, so they decided to put their talents and their voices together to do a show called ‘Two Sanskari Girls’. They put together vignettes of spoken word poetry, drama, dance, music, character work and a lot more in their show.
Although Nupur and Kate grew up in such different settings, one thing brought them closer – what it means to be a woman in this day and age.
Their show in Bangalore was a full house, and the performances were bold and moving. Nupur, Kate and their team received a standing ovation at the end of the show. The show told women that they always have a choice. It also told women that they have to take back the ownership of their bodies. It told women that we should be united, and shouldn’t judge other women. All these messages united, and made the women in the audience realise their potential. It was a truly magnificent evening.
Conservationist and Journalist Prerna Singh Bindra wants to connect people with wildlife. She grew up in a house that was at peace with its habitat. Sustainability of humanity she believes will be closely tied in with how we treat our environment and make harmony with the creatures around us.
In her book ‘The Vanishing’ she convincing argues that we can make life more meaningful and sustainable by making small efforts for big results. A conservationist and member of the National Board for Wildlife, Prerna is also the founder-director of Bagh Trust, which is a not-for-profit wildlife conservation organisation.
The story didn’t quite start in the jungles. Prerna initially chose a conventional management career path after getting selected at the premier Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. A few years and jobs later, she returned to her calling. And to her credit, Prerna was willing to take the hard route to success. She started all over again.
She joined a journalist, writing for Sanctuary Asia and then went on to work for many publications like The Asian Age, The Pioneer, The Times of India, India Today, The Week, Tehelka etc. She says the journeys have been long, arduous but rewarding. From finding natural reservoirs, wildlife, wetlands and endangered species of animals, birds etc. She has authored over 1,500 articles on nature and wildlife in mainstream media.
Among her most seminal works is an investigation into the black market in ivory and illegal mining. A resident of Gurgaon, Prerna goes into the deepest forests many times round the year, leaving her old Labrador dog with her friend and sometimes, even taking him.
Prerna is in conversation with Poorvi Gupta for our special series, Sustain.
Sort It Out Just as much as survivors, whistleblowers have embraced open public platforms to share their stories of sexual harassment, the perpetrators of it have capitalised on these forums too. Blogs and open letters have become the ‘medium’ for revelations. While it’s good to have agency in digital platforms, I remain shocked about how easily a public apology seems enough repentance. They screw up. They manipulate, exploit and thrive. And then they simply apologise? What’s up with that?
Startuposphere doesn’t need more apologies, it needs a fix.
“I made advances toward multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriate,” Dave McClure, the cofounder of accelerator and investment firm 500 Startups, wrote in a post he titled “I’m a creep. I’m sorry.”
Sexism, Startups and Silicon Valley go back to the time startups were conceived. Founders, VCs, investors, board members don’t seem to get it though. Why is it that over the last few years, cases of harassment have emerged at some of the biggest corporations? If these apologies were making an impact, and the public shame associated with them acted as deterrents we would have had a drop in the cases? And just what happens after these apologies anyway?
Let there be no blinkers on. Sexism still flourishes and patriarchy still calls the shots.
“The scale is sort of breathtaking,” The Guardian quoted a lawyer named Kelly Dermody who annually assists hundreds of women in tech and represents thousands across class-action lawsuits. “Most of the women I’ve worked with in startups have had stories where they have been physically touched, if not worse, without their consent.”
Let there be no blinkers on. Sexism still flourishes and patriarchy still calls the shots. Time to change the habit. Who will start this conversation? That issues of sexism and sexual harassment are now rampant is well established. Finally press across the world has put the spotlight on the dirty underbelly. We can truly thank Susan Fowler, Indian Fowler, Rashmi Bansal, Wamika Iyer and many such women for speaking up. For being fearless.
What’s the plan ahead? That’s the question to be asked. Who wants the apologies, let’s get a plan in place.
We know the problem, let’s find the fix. Has it dawned on the startup community that new rules need to be put in place? Laws, committees and practises that will take on the issue of sexism head on. And to ensure that these don’t remain plans on paper but are implemented. One can no longer depend on boards since we have seen in the case of Uber’s Travis Kalanik, they almost always supported him which is probably why Uber has such a spate of culture issues that led to sexism being practised. Time for a new paradigm?
Get more women in the organisation. Let them show you, how its done. Balance the board. Fund more women.
CHANGE THE CULTURE
Say no to sexual harassment, take it up seriously within organisations and empower the companies to ‘sort’ out the mess
INDIVIDUAL TO INSTITUTIONS
While sexual harassment is among individuals, it’s important for the institution to step up and take charge. Take a stand. Seek an investigation.
IT STARTS AT THE TOP
Stop looking at sexual harassment issues as a responsibility of the HR department. Take it on. Corner-offices can transform the way women are treated in their organizations.
CHECKS IN PLACE
Having committes, organisations, third party ‘watch dogs’ are important. Not because they will put an end to all harassment, not because they can be a deterrent but because we need fair processes to assess complaints.
TRAINING AND AWARENESS
There is a likelihood that both men and women don’t even know that a situation may be alive to harassment. It’s important to train them. To know how to behave, what to do, not to do and what not to say.
PLASTER THE RULES
Don’t let the law and rules fall through the cracks. Put it up front on the wall. Plaster it everywhere. Let people get informed every single day about the rules. And why they matter.
In the 21st century, in a world where entrepreneurship and startsup are considered hallmarks of liberation and rise, we find women still vulnerable to abuse, sexual harassment, exploitation to groping to assault. It’s time. Let’s show some respect.
India won the ICC Women’s cricket world cup with the help of Ekta Bisht. India (169/9) crushed Pakistan (74 all out in 38.1 overs) by 95 runs to register third successive win in the tournament in the ICC Women’s World Cup.
Ekta Bisht changed the game, taking 5 wickets, helping India put up a fantastic innings and record their third successive victory in the ICC Women’s World Cup. The total was just 169, but the bowling attack by the left spinner left Pakistan with little options.
Here are some things to know about the 31 year old star cricket player:
She is the first international woman cricketer from Uttarakhand.
She is a left handed batswoman and slow left arm orthodox bowler.
She had played in the ICC championship in Sri Lanka in 2012 where she won a hat trick in the last over.
She started playing cricket as a little girl and was the only girl who would play cricket with the boys in her gully.