From Kamal Haasan to Anirudh Ravichander: Movers who also shook things up in 2017

Coming from different walks of life, these men and women have proved that no dream is too impossible if you decide to realise it.

Published: 23rd December 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th December 2017 03:02 PM   |  A+A-

Actor Kamal Haasan

As 2017 draws to a close, we bring you 14 newsmakers from across the country who made all the right moves this year and are set to usher in fireworks in the coming year. Coming from different walks of life—with the youngest at 27 and the oldest at 67—these men and women have proved that no dream is too impossible if you decide to realise it. And as they look forward to a new year, they have new aims in sight again.

The Dravidian Gap Finder

Kamal Haasan, 67 Actor/Activist

A well-timed tweet about Jallikattu, a week before the monumental protests shook Tamil Nadu in January, set the political wheel spinning for Kamal Haasan. From voicing disapproval of the Tamil Nadu government to lending support to controversial film Mersal, to meeting up with political rebels Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal, 2017 saw this superstar capture popular imagination. In trying to cash in on the gap created by the demise of J Jayalalithaa and Rajinikanth’s indecision to take the political plunge, Kamal is going the extra mile, but will it eventually translate into electoral success?

A secret early morning visit to Ennore with environmentalist Nithyanand Jayaraman on October 28, wooed the fishermen community there. Kamal also reached out to the farmers of the state. Needless to add, Brand Kamal Haasan has been building momentum.  The question still remains whether he will be able to completely trash the political policies of the Dravidian parties. Or will he pretend there aren’t any vote banks?   by Samuel Merigala

Sky is the Limit

AS Kiran Kumar, 65 Space Scientist

This man is certainly on a mission. ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar has made big announcements that would take the country’s space programme to even greater heights. The space research agency plans to launch two-three GSLVs and 8-10 PSLVs, its most trusted satellite carrier, every year. “In the next five years, almost 60 launch vehicles will be going up,” Kumar said in November. 

Notwithstanding the ‘unexpected’ failure on August 31, the first under his chairmanship after he took over in September 2015, Kumar says ISRO was preparing to pull off 10-12 launches in the New Year. Chandrayaan-2 would be an advanced version of the Chandrayaan-1 launched nine years ago. ISRO also plans to launch the second flight of GSLV MkIII, carrying the heaviest payload ever. 

ISRO chief said the year will start with PSLV-C40 carrying earth observation Cartosat-2 satellite along with 28 foreign passenger satellites, including 25 nano satellites and three micro-satellites. “The first six months of the new year will be action-packed,” he said. 

by SV Krishna Chaitanya

Lamp of Lotus 

K Surendran, 47 Politician 

BJP’s vigorous Kerala push in the face of the tough resistance put up by the Communists is led by some of the spirited guards of the blooming lotus in the state. K Surendran is one among them. He may have missed a victory by just 89 votes in the 2016 Assembly polls, but the BJP state general secretary has his task cut out for 2018 what with the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Be it the adversaries within the party or outside, Surendran hasn’t spared any, getting all the right attentions of his bosses in Delhi. This month, he called ‘dissenting’ party leaders Yashwant Sinha and Satrughan Sinha jilted lovers.

As part of his relentless fight against the rampaging reds, he is planning next to expose the collusion between the Communists and Muslim fundamentalist groups. “This will rock the LDF government,” he claims.

A family man, Surendran likes to go on pilgrimages, when he is not sharpening his attacks against the state government accusing them of supporting terrorism. 
by NV Ravindranathan Nair

High on Hollywood

Dhanush, 34 Actor/Singer

Who’d have thought that with his unconventional looks Dhanush would go on to become a star of such proportions? The actor now even has a Hollywood project, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, in the pipeline. 

The actor became a global name after the overnight success of Kolaveri Di in 2012, and then ventured into Bollywood with Raanjhanaa, and Shamitabh, proving that talent can prevail over language barriers.
This year, he made his directorial debut with Pa Paandi, which became a hit at the box office. In a bold move for a first-time filmmaker, he cast the 68-year-old Rajkiran in the lead. 

Dhanush, who has completed 15 years in the cinema industry, awaits the release of Gautham Menon’s Enai Noki Paayum Thota and the much-anticipated Vetrimaaran-directorial Vada Chennai. His keen eye for films has also resulted in success as a producer. His banner, Wunderbar Films, has produced many successful projects.

success Mantra 
Awareness of one’s strengths and  weaknesses can take a person far

in the pipeline

Hollywood project, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir
mission 2018 Planning to produce Bollywood films  by Sunita Raghu

The Music  Maven

Anirudh Ravichander,27 Composer

From 3 to Vivegam, Anirudh Ravichander has shown a knack for delivering chartbusters consistently. Recently, the Kolaveri Di composer, who is yet to turn 30, came out with India’s first vertical pop music video, Bewajah, and is riding high into 2018 with a bevy of big projects lined up.

He has also made quite an impact this year with Sivakarthikeyan’s Velaikkaran, which was released earlier this month. Its first single—Karuthavanlaam Galeejam—has turned out to be a big hit, having garnered 11 million views on YouTube. Anirudh also struck gold with Suriya’s Thaana Serndha Koottam, two singles from which have been released so far. 

The composer is set to make his Telugu debut with Pawan Kalyan’s Agnyaathavaasi. His album for the Tamil film Aakko is also one to look out for next year. But the most anticipated of his future projects are without doubt Vijay’s next in Tamil and a Jr NTR-starrer in Telugu. 

Understands the pulse of today’s listeners

note-worthy Came out with India’s first vertical pop music video that has garnered eight million views on YouTube mission 2018 Will mark his Telugu debut; maybe Bollywood to by Sunita Raghu

Godmother of All Things Art 

Anita Dube,59 Art Curator

On the phone from Delhi, Anita Dube sounds rushed. But that is understandable. Ever since she was appointed curator of the fourth edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, which will begin in December 2018, she has been on a series of travels. 

Anita has been to Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. “I am going to focus on the Global South for this Biennale—South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America,” she says. “But that does not mean that I will be excluding Europe. I have also been to Denmark, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Norway and other Nordic countries to meet up with artists.”

Looking back, the appointment in March this year had been thrilling. “It has been such an enriching experience. I would like to explore possibilities for a non-alienated human existence. I have seen so many wonderful art works and met some fascinating people,” she adds

her call... Women  must get opportunities Appointed curator of  the fourth edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, which will begin in Dec 2018  mission 2018 Bringing a feminist by Shevlin Sebastian

Aman Singh, 49


Aman Singh routinely figures in the list of most powerful bureaucrats in the country. The principal secretary to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh is perhaps the longest-serving official in any chief minister’s secretariat in the country. An unorthodox bureaucrat and a no-nonsense officer, one of Singh’s biggest contributions is that Chhattisgarh isn’t plagued by ‘play safe’ syndrome and ‘status quo’ fixation.

A fitness freak, this former IRS officer remains a voracious reader and regular contributor to newspapers and magazines on an array of subjects. He is also known for his impeccable dressing sense coupled with a good sense of humour. And his colleagues, friends, and foes know him as a gourmet.
With Aman Singh, seen as thinker, executor par-excellence, and trouble-shooter-in-chief for the chief minister, all eyes are now on the maverick officer as CM Raman Singh gears up for the fourth consecutive win in 2018 polls.

Success Mantra

Fail fast; fail often

No mean feat

Recognised as an architect of the three consecutive terms for the  Chhattisgarh chief minister

Mission 2018

If the Raman Singh government stays in power for the fourth consecutive term, the principal secretary will be called on to further his work

Ejaz Kaiser

Jawahar Surrisetty, 53
Social Education Expert

The Pundit of Policy

A fairytale rise from the hospitality industry profession to a corporate job to being a top-rated social education and policy expert, hailed across the world for his innovative approach to education, skills and employment. Dr Jawahar Surisetti has been there and done it all.

In a typical rag to riches story, he showed the grit and determination to fight the very system that thwarted his education. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Columbia University, his second doctorate after his sponsored first doctorate in psychology by the University of Washington.Advising governments in policy-making and new initiatives, including the US and Indian governments, at 53, Surisetti believes that he is still to reach his peak and in 2018 he has plans that need large-scale participation of governments and corporates.And the believer of democracy says, “A few hiccups here and there will not make a difference. Challenges in life are great teachers.”

Quick lessons

Focus more on your passions and build your lives around them

Gave a new dimension to world school education through his ‘Think! Curriculum’

Mission 2018

Wishes to set up the Indian Institute of Peace

Ejaz Kaiser

Ankit Sharma, 24

Leap of Success

Ankit Sharma, the 24-year-old ace long-jumper from Madhya Pradesh’s Morena district and the reigning national and South Asian Games champion, is training hard. Currently posted as an inspector in the Income Tax Department in Chennai, the lanky athlete is hoping to come back to his home state as deputy SP.

“I’m presently jumping between 8.20 m and 8.25 m, which is better than my national record of 8.19 m. This distance can fetch me gold at the Asian Games in August and a podium finish at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next April,” believes Ankit.

But the long-jumper maintains that more than physical toughness, he has to be mentally strong to win at both the major quadrennial events next year. He was candid enough to admit that failing to take the mental pressure saw him finish sixth at Asian and Commonwealth Games in 2010, besides not qualifying for the finals at the Rio Olympics.

Action statement

Long-jumping is a mind game


Broke the national record twice in a single day in June 2016

Mission 2018

Podium finish at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2018

Anuraag Singh

Mukesh Sahu, 36
Social Worker

Boatman with Big Dreams

From rubbing shoulders with top Bollywood directors and actors in Mumbai to mobilising people in Bihar’s dusty hinterlands for political struggles, it has been an exciting journey for Mukesh Sahni. This 36-year-old Nishad leader from Darbhanga is tirelessly working to expand and strengthen his organisation in time for Bihar’s upcoming polls.

Having popularised himself as the “Son of Mallah”, Sahni is raring to emerge as the saviour of the EBC caste. Traditionally boatmen, the Nishads are a group of over 20 sub-castes whose livelihood has been linked to the river. Sahni says he has gathered these sub-castes of about 1.75 crore people in Bihar under one organisation—Nishad Vikas Sangh.

Sahni ran away from home at age 18 to escape poverty and built himself up in Mumbai over the next 15 years. A well-known name in Bollywood, he has also designed the sets of many movies, including blockbusters like Devdas and Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

Statement of inspiration  

Love of the people is enduring

Big Achievement

Has gathered about 1.75 crore Nishads in Bihar under one organisation—Nishad Vikas Sangh

Mission 2018

To launch a political party

Anand ST Das

Niyaz khan, 47
Administrative Officer

The Thrill-seeker

Back in the year 1976, six-year-old Niyaz was cautioned by his mother Mehrunisa: “Be careful even while walking to school, your leg might touch abandoned gold or diamond. Never touch or pick it, else you’ll lose your thumb to me.”

Four decades later, his mother’s words are still the guiding principle in the life of Niyaz Ahmad Khan. The 1999 batch Madhya Pradesh State Administrative Service officer’s unflinching crusade against corruption has got him 17 transfers across nine districts since 2004. The 47-year-old official, who originally hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district, was recently transferred from the post of ADM in Guna district to state capital Bhopal.

Khan is a novelist at heart, having so far penned five fictions, the latest being Talaq Talaq Talaq. A post-graduate in English, he is now nearing completion of his latest novel Love Demands Blood.

Guiding Principle

Committment to the nation and nationalism

Filling state coffers

By working in accordance with law, he has contributed over `20 crore to the government exchequer

Mission 2018

Hopes to crack down on wrongdoers in Bhopal

Anuraag Singh

Aamer Javeed, 30
Youth Leader

GenNext Connect

Youth leaders from a political party very rarely have an actual youth connect. But Aamer Javeed, national secretary of the National Students Union of India, has aced it, and how. Tech-savvy and social media-aware, Aamer recently made waves with his proactive steps.

Using his pull on social media, he initiated a hashtag trend as a response to the #MeToo campaign: #IWill. “When the #MeToo campaign gained momentum, I realised that I too should take a step forward,” explains Aamer. Young college girls often come up to him to thank him for the positive campaign.

Aamer wears many hats—an engineer, MBA graduate, a law student, and recently father to a newborn—he chose politics as his field. “I’ve always wanted to make a difference,” he says.

Driving force

Harnessing power of social media

Proud moment

Initiated a hashtag trend: #IWill, where he encouraged men to post how they would contribute to changing the condition of women

Mission 2018

To create a database for those in urgent need of blood

Palaparthi Srividya

Pramod Bodo, 42
Union Leader

Gandhigiri Wins the Day

For years, demands for a separate Bodoland have been marked by violence. But Pramod Bodo’s ‘Gandhigiri’ is winning the day and making sure that no more blood is spilled in Assam.After Pramod took over as president of the influential All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) in 2010, there has not been a single major incident of violence.

“The immediate result of violence is destruction while the objective of a movement is always construction. All ABSU protests have been non-violent. When the movement was at its peak, there was violent obstruction from the state machinery. The Bodos had no other alternative than to resist and respond appropriately,” Pramod says.

He draws satisfaction from the fact that he has been able to sensitise a large section of the Bodos regarding the demand. Pramod says he will try to intensify the socio-political movement at all levels and convert the issue-based movement into a revolution.

A word of caution

Violence begets violence

Credited for

Uniting myriad Bodo groups and organisations towards putting up a united fight

Mission 2018

Intensifying the socio-political movement

Prasanta Mazumdar



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