18 People to watch out for in 2018  

Colour has been a prominent factor in the critical assessment of Jasprit Bumrah. Household name for his deeds as the Man in Blue, he was handed a very different task away from the spotlight playing

Published: 30th December 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st December 2017 10:26 AM   |  A+A-

Readying the Bouncer

Jasprit Bumrah, 24, Cricketer
Colour has been a prominent factor in the critical assessment of Jasprit Bumrah. Household name for his deeds as the Man in Blue, he was handed a very different task away from the spotlight playing in whites early this year. In a Ranji Trophy semifinal against Jharkhand in January, Gujarat were defending 234 in the fourth innings. Known for fiery toe-crushers that often shatter the base of the stumps when he bowls with the white ball, Bumrah was facing a vital test. 

The bowler born in a Sikh family in Ahmedabad responded with 6/29 in 14 nerve-wracking overs to roll the opposition over for 111. Thoughts of unleashing him on the stage where India plays in whites became a decision that day. Because the calendar kept the team mostly at home in 2017, his turn didn’t come. 
“The biggest dream that I’ve had, my ultimate aim, is to play Test cricket for India. Even before I started representing India in the limited-over formats, my aim was to represent India in Test cricket,” Bumrah said in a recent interview. Considering that he completes two years in international cricket in January, call-up to the Test party has taken time. 

Quick from an awkward arm action, who can maintain pace if used in short bursts, Bumrah has more than the yorker that earns him fame and big bucks. Getting the ball to straighten from a naturally inward angle makes him a mean customer. 

Shorter formats demand he alter the line and come straighter, but once that compulsion is removed, he can be an exciting addition to the pace bank Virat Kohli is trying to build. Bumrah will become a bowler with an array of weapons not many of his breed possess if he develops an effective bouncer.
“I’ve done well in first-class cricket for my state team. I was able to perform in big matches and took wickets in the quarterfinal, semifinal. That gave me confidence. I’ll do whatever is in my hands. My preparation should be good and I should be in a good mental space. That is all I’m focussing on.”
by Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The Royal Debutante  

Sara Ali Khan, 24, Actor
All eyes are on the youngest royal joining tinsel town—Sara Ali Khan. Sara is all set for her big Bollywood debut with Abhishek Kapoor’s Kedarnath opposite Sushant Singh Rajput. While the makers have kept the plot guarded, it is said that the film—slated for December 21 release—is an emotional love story set in the mountainous regions of Kedarnath. And, she is approaching the project with a lot of sincerity and hard work.   

While there are great expectations from this debutante, the buzz is that the actress is taking up projects on her own terms. She doesn’t want to be part of any two-heroine film. Sara, who has the genes and beauty of her mother Amrita Singh and father Saif Ali Khan, is certainly one of the most pleasing personalities  among the present generation star kids. She is already making style statements—be it in a gorgeous avatar or the simple casual looks. 

Already a huge sensation on her social networking platforms, Sara is frequently spotted with Karan Johar at parties and has been working out with Malaika Arora Khan. It is rumoured that she is dating star son, Harshvardhan Kapoor. The New Year looks promising for Sara. by Shama Bhagat

Message is Medium

Bhavin Turakhia, 38, Entrepreneur

Flock boasts more than 25,000 customers, including Tim Hortons, Whirlpool and Princeton University. And the cloud-based team collaboration service is targeting a segment that has already attracted giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. That hasn’t deterred its creator Bhavin Turakhia, 36, from dreaming big. He’s pumped $45 million of his own money into building the rival to Slack and others of the ilk. “I want to make Flock bigger and better than anything I’ve built before,” Bhavin, who started programming when he was only 10, said in an interview.

Few had heard of Mumbai-born Bhavin (and younger brother Divyank), until they sold their advertising tech firm Media.net to a Chinese consortium in an all-cash $900 million deal in 2016.
Flock promises to share ideas in real time while doing away with communication hierarchies, at a relatively cheaper price. Bhavin’s portfolio now comprises five companies besides Flock, which are incorporated in the US, UK and Dubai. Each are independent entities of Directi Group, bootstrapped by the brothers with a $500 loan from their father when Bhavin was still 17. Express News Service
Hero of Hospitality

Jaisal Singh, 38, Hotelier

Conservationist, entrepreneur, and author, Jaisal Singh has changed the hospitality game in India by combining an exciting and enriching experience of wildlife with uber luxury through SUJÁN hotels. “Hospitality is ingrained in the culture of our sub-continent. It came to me like a duck to water. I enjoy hosting people and creating unforgettable experiences for them,” says Singh, who has also written three books—Polo in India, Ranthambhore: The Tiger’s Realm along with Anjali Singh and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and JAWAI: Land of the Leopard with Anjali Singh.

So was hospitality always a plan? “I always had a passion for wildlife and its conservation, which drove me to open Sher Bagh in Ranthambhore when I was 20. Of course, the family’s entrepreneurial legacy was something that I was inherently conscious of, and this was an inspiration.” 

Set to gross a turnover of `50 crore this year, SUJÁN’s award-winning hotels in India include Sher Bagh, Ranthambhore; The Serai, Jaisalmer; Jawai, Jawai Bandh; and Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur—all members of Relais and Chateaux. A former polo player, Singh has been hailed as “one of the most exciting and most relevant hospitality moguls in the world” and a “Game Changer of 2016” by Vanity Fair.

“The entire SUJÁN experience has our imprint, not of consultants. Be it the conceptualisation, design and aesthetic—we provide an authentic experience of the region,” says Singh.“Each of our hotels is distinct, so we aren’t a ‘chain’ so to speak,” says Singh, who founded experiential luxury hotel company SUJÁN in 2000. Moved by the conservation ethic of Stefano and Liz Cheli—the force behind the creation of the Mara North Conservancy—SUJÁN partnered with them for Elephant Pepper Camp in the wilderness of Masai Mara. Any plans to launch another book after Jawai? “Yes, Indeed!” says Singh. by Nikita Sharma

A Swiss Shot

Unnikrishnan C, 26, Painter

Coming from a family of daily-wage earners, whose parents used to work in a stone quarry, Unnikrishnan C’s exposure to stones and bricks created his interest in painting on these earthy objects at a very early age. 

Come March, the artist from the quaint little town of Pezhumpara in Kerala is all set to exhibit his first solo show in Zug, Switzerland. In a first-of-its-kind patronage in the Indian art world, courtesy avid collectors Richard and Adrienne Blum of Zug, the 26-year-old will get a chance to present his work to curators, directors of leading galleries, museums and auction houses, apart from noted art collectors from Switzerland and Germany.

“I am extremely excited and humbled by this opportunity to show my works in Zug. And I am even more excited to see how an audience that is so disconnected and distant from Kerala will react to and engage with my works that are steeped and rooted in people and stories from Nenmara, my small town,” says Unnikrishnan with a smile. Many of the works in the Zug exhibition are portraits of everyday people, and each of those ‘characters’ have their own story to tell. “The opportunity to dedicatedly work on a solo exhibition has given me the chance to experiment with varied mediums,” says Unnikrishnan. by Medha Dutta

Paradigms of Performance 

Prashant Prakash, 31, Theatre Personality 

Prashant Prakash’s storytelling approach is non-traditional. It’s challengingly experimental, broadminded, and forbearing in its articulation of the world of stories. With Crow, a theatre company founded by him and his partner Nayantara Kotian in Delhi, they have created acclaimed works of immersive experiences, wherein the audience is not just spectators but also participants. 

A good example of this was seen in the production The Hungry Hearts Supper Club in February. It was an immersive dining experience intended especially for singles around Valentine’s Day. “It was the opposite of a quiet, romantic sit-down dinner. We collaborated with my friends and chefs Rahul Dua and Kainaz Contractor, who created an incredible menu that ran with the theme of the show,” he says. 

April and May saw A Tall Tale, another immersive show set in a unique tower-like house in the capital’s Hauz Khas Village. “The tower was the central character; a living eccentric tower with a most curious set of occupants. The experience for the audience (only 16 at a time) was akin to a tour of a historical monument, but weirder,” he says. In August, Prakash got the rare chance of working solely as an actor in Nikhil Mehta’s The Shakuntala Project. 

The year 2018 will carry forward the baton of his predeceasing avant-garde accomplishments to an alternate venue in Okhla. His new show, scheduled to open on February 2, will have the audience “step into an alternative world, a fantastical market.”  
by Ayesha Singh

The Toy Room Story

Akshay Anand, 34, Restaurateur

He knows how to play a DJ, he can beat a world-class bartender, and he has been providing Delhi a unique experience of food and music for over a decade. After reintroducing karaoke and Sufi music through his restaurants, banker-turned-restaurateur Akshay Anand is set to add another star to the mega city’s night life. The owner of seven restaurants in Delhi plans to bring London’s luxury club Toy Room to India.

“We are planning to open Toy Room Clubs in Delhi and Mumbai, and a Toy Beach in Goa by September 2018. The Toy Beach will be like a shack that will turn into a club at night,” says Anand.
Ask him about the inspiration behind bringing this high-end boutique club—famous in almost eight countries—to India, he says, “My wife, who used to study in London College of Fashion, took me to her favourite club. Since it was Saturday night, there was a huge rush. Despite paying around `2 lakh, we had to wait for long and still couldn’t get a good table. Hassled, I told my wife, I will open my own Toy Club in India.”

Things started falling into place gradually. “Seeing your flag on an international brand’s logo gives me a sense of pride,” he says. His wife Devina, who manages all the marketing work and PR, has played an equal role in his success. And what does success mean for him? “Run for customer satisfaction, profit comes as a reward.”by Nikita Sharma

Force Multiplier

Aparajita Rai, 32, Police Officer

When she walks the streets of Kolkata, criminals cower. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Kolkata south) Aparajita Rai—a Gangtok native—has earned the title of a tough police officer. With political battles between an emerging BJP and incumbent Trinamool Congress likely to take to the streets in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, she seems to be in focus now.

After losing her father to an accident at a tender age of eight, Aparajita and her elder sister were raised by her school teacher mother. “My father always wanted me to be a lawyer. So, I fulfilled his wish and completed LLB. However, I knew my calling was in police service after watching, Bollywood movie Tirangaa,” says Rai with a giggle.

After completing her schooling at Holy Cross Montessori, St Thomas and Tashi Namgyal Academy schools in Gangtok, Aparajita pursued LLB at National University of Judicial Sciences in Kolkata. She failed in her first attempt to clear the UPSC exams in 2009 and cracked it in 2010. “I start my day at 6 am with a jog. Then, I go for a game of badminton. The day goes in managing processions and looking after law and order. My day generally ends at around 9.30 pm but it drags on to 2.30 am when I go for night patrolling,” she says.

Despite being one of the handful of women police officers in a largely male-dominated workforce, Rai believes that her womanhood acts as a blessing rather than an obstacle. “As a woman officer, I have more advantages as I can perform the roles of both male and female officers. Even my work provides cases that mandate a female officer. So, a woman officer is more empowered than restricted,” she says. by Aishik Chanda

Star in the Making

Ishan Khattar, 22, Actor

He chose to make his entry with a non-commercial venture with Majid Majidi’s Beyond the Clouds which premiered at the International Film Festival of India, 2017.Armed with the Best Actor award  for his debut film at the International Bosphorus Film Festival in Turkey, Ishant Khattar is now awaiting his Bollywood debut.

The son of actors Neelima Azim and Rajesh Khattar and step-brother of Shahid Kapoor is all set to step into Bollywood with Karan Johar’s Dhadak. The film is a remake of Marathi Blockbuster Sairat by Nagraj Manjule. 

Sairat was a love story between an upper-caste girl and a fisherman’s son. Director Shashank Khaitan had recently said that the basic premise of the film is the same but there will be variations. Dhadak is a love  story set in Rajasthan and it has its own challenges, and conflict. Ishaan has already got a huge line-up of female fans as far as his social network platforms are concerned.by Shama Bhagat

Paying it Forward

Rakesh Suri, 55, Social Worker

shekhar Yadav

With over 34 years of experience in the Information Technology and management sectors, this CEO (IT Division) of a major textile firm, along with a few of his colleagues in 2012, set out to work towards delivering IT education to underprivileged schools.

“We first started with serving 60 slum children of a nearby school in Gurugram. But the effort spread so fast that we had 1,200 students of six schools within 14 months,” says Rakesh Suri, the main force behind the initiative.

The Gurugram-based NGO, Computer Shiksha, however, had its fair share of struggles as it hit the usual obstacles of resource, manpower and infrastructure crunch. “But I found a way to deliver the service by conquering all constraints,” says Suri, an electronics engineer from BITS, Pilani and a PhD in Business Administration from Aligarh Muslim University.“We shifted delivering computer education ourselves to enabling school partners to deliver the same and removed the human element,” he explains. The number of total students trained through the initiative has risen to over 10,000. by Sumi Sukanya Dutta

Acing the Talk

Chetna Vasishth, 47, Educationist

For Chetna Vasishth, a break from her career as a corporate banker, following the birth of her baby boy, turned out to be the turning point of her life. She first set up and ran a training company for bankers in India and abroad, and then progressed on to start an online career-oriented talk show called ChetChat in 2015.

“I thought of starting this venture because there is a big lacuna in the sector and youth of the country needs right guidance and motivation through a credible platform,” she says.

Her YouTube channel, the largest online career chat show in the country, with over 26,000 regular subscribers and more than 1.3 million views so far, sees her converse with professionals on career paths, entrepreneur success stories, and college students for the benefit of viewing students.These discussions, fun and even quirky at times, are centred mainly on entrance exams, career progression, admission details and scholarship information.

“Having been in the field of education for over a decade I realised that students across India do not have authentic information on these subjects. Most students and parents sadly make misinformed choices and career counsellors are either very few or very expensive. So I thought of using my network to provide free videos for students across the world to help them with their career decisions,” she says.
She has interviewed  some very inspirational people and very successful entrepreneurs and CEOs.
by Sumi Sukanya Dutta

Eyeing the Unknown

Susmita Mohanty, 45, Spacecraft   architect

courtesy: Kanak News

On December 20, when Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced Susmita Mohanty as chairperson of “Mo School Yojana,” an ambitious scheme encouraging the alumni to connect with their alma mater and help participate in its development, everyone took notice.Susmita Mohanty, who? One may ask. A spacecraft architect, serial entrepreneur and founder of India’s first private space start-up Earth2Orbit (E2O).

Known for unique space-craft designing, Susmita rose to fame after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 104 satellites in a single flight earlier in February. Her start-up E2O—one among two firms working on space technology—had contributed substantially to the historic mission. Founded in 2008, Earth2Orbit with presence in Bengaluru, Osaka, San Francisco and Vienna, provides launch vehicle procurement and launch campaign management services to satellite makers.
Susmita had developed interest in human spaceflight very early. She had, in fact, sent her first idea to NASA when she was in high school. Born in Cuttack and brought up in Ahmedabad, she grew up among the pioneers of the Indian space agency.

Daughter of an ISRO scientist, Susmita studied electrical engineering from LD College of Engineering in 1993 and Master of Designing from National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. She also has a master’s in Space Studies from the International Space University (ISU) at Strasbourg in France and PhD in Aerospace Architecture from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Susmita had worked in business development for the International Space Station (ISS) programme at Boeing in Huntington Beach of California and on Shuttle-Mir missions at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston before turning an entrepreneur. Now busy weaving the thread between science fiction and reality with her orbital enterprise, she aspires to do fascinating things in space technology. by Hemant Rout

Ethic’s Advocate 

Siddhartha Dave, 43, Lawyer

shekhar Yadav

His baritone radiates authority, his presence exudes confidence and brilliance, and his first love was a law library at his ancestral home in Allahabad. Now at 43, the ‘love-affair’ is still alive and kicking. Siddhartha Dave’s journey from the judicial and political capital of Uttar Pradesh to the highest law institution in India is a perfect example of a true-blue ‘Indian Dream’.Born and brought up in Allahabad, law and its nuances came easy to him. His grandfather and great-grandfather were both lawyers. 

After passing out from the National Law School of India University in 1997, Siddhartha came to Delhi to practice in the Supreme Court. He initially worked with senior lawyers Kapil Sibal and Dushyant Dave. “I learnt a lot from them. One thing I always follow in my life is Mr Sibal’s words of wisdom: ‘To succeed, first know your judge and give him what he wants’.”

Siddhartha, who practices criminal cases, remembers how “nervous” he was during his first hearing. “But the judges then used to be supportive towards young lawyers.”He wants to change the way accused are seen in society. “You can seek help if you are outside. But it’s difficult to seek justice if you’re inside the jail,” he says.The most important case in Siddhartha’s life was on whether “an accused should be asked for a voice sample” during a police inquiry. It’s small but an important aspect, he says, as “there’s no law that says an accused has to give a voice sample. I was thinking I would not succeed. But the judges gave differing judgments, and it went to three judges.”       by Nikita Sharma

Angel of Development

Shamika Ravi, 41, Economist

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi reconstituted the Economic Advisory Council in September under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, revival of the economic growth was in the spotlight. However, with Dr Shamika Ravi—a senior fellow and also a health expert at Brookings India—on board as a part-time member, expectations were high on healthcare front. 

Shamika, who leads the development economics research vertical at the Delhi-based think-tank, told the media that the government was pursuing “fundamental structural reforms” to improve healthcare, such as the ranking of district hospitals and empowering state medical officers. “There is a lot of background work happening,” she added. 

In fact, a lot more bold initiatives are expected of the almnus of Lady Shri Ram College For Women and Delhi School of Economics, considering her criticism of the government’s condom ad ban on December 12. She called it a “regressive policy” on Twitter.Shamika, who holds a PhD in Economics from New York University and is a visiting professor at the Indian School of Business, is of the view that India needs to align agriculture policy with nutrition goals to tackle the malnutrition problem. Express News Service

Express News Service
Anjali Joseph, 38, Author

C J Humphries

Having juggled many professions—as varied as journalism, teaching, and chartered accountancy—Anjali Joseph finally turned to writing as a career after taking up a course in creative writing. The 38-year-old author of three novels believes that “people who still read and are excited about books are a vanishing tribe”.

Born in Mumbai, she read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. Her father, a research scientist, is a Malayali and her mother is Bengali-Gujarati. At the age of seven, her family relocated to England. She has been dividing her time between Mumbai and London.

Saraswati Park, her debut novel set in Mumbai, was awarded the Betty Trask Prize, Desmond Elliott Prize and the Crossword Book Award. It was also nominated for The Hindu Literary Prize. In 2010, Anjali was also listed by The Telegraph as one of the 20 best writers under the age of 40. Her second novel, Another Country, was longlisted for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize. Joseph’s third novel, The Living, was recently shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017. Unlike most authors, to Anjali writing is like a journey.  by Medha Dutta

Stitch of Simplicity 

Priyanka Ella Lorena Lama, 26, Fashion Designer
Priyanka Ella Lorena Lama’s prêt-a-porter fashion ensembles are as unique as her name. She’s never once succumbed to the vanity of perfection, rather finds endearment in being deliberately flawed. Born in Darjeeling, she has emerged as one of the most promising designers in the country.

The year has been a rewarding one for this 26-year-old Bengaluru-based fashion expert. She was selected to represent the country through a curated installation style exhibition at the International Fashion Showcase, held at Somerset House, London, during the London Fashion Week in February this year. And she won the Country Award for India.  

The next year seems buzzing with activity as her label P.E.L.L.A, an acronym for her name, has been invited by the global luxury fashion brand Lecoanet Hemant, for a special project using a new fibre which is being cultivated in Meghalaya for the first time. Priyanka is crazy by her own admission. Her love for design and innovation knows no sense of balance. “It’s all got to do with how deeply invested I am in my product,” she says. Priyanka will also introduce her new label called Cella early next year which will give customers a varied price range. by Ayesha Singh

Keeper of Keys

Anirudh Verma, 22, Pianist-Composer 

Anybody in his shoes would have chosen law as a profession, considering that his father is the seventh generation lawyer in the family. But Anirudh didn’t walk the predictable path. Music was all he wanted.

He got his training in western classical before imbibing the nuances of Hindustani classical. He released his first single called Colours of Jhin Jhoti, from his debut album, on October 15.  “I asked my friends on the other side to sing this bandish in raga Jhin Jhoti on different registers or octaves, which ended up being the driving point of the track,” he says. The idea was to explore an alternative space and quality of the raga through the use of harmony.

Anirudh is trying to involve different filmmakers from Delhi to shoot the music video of his next album. With hands full and spirits high, there is no stopping him from hitting the high notes.
by Ayesha Singh

Mountain Messiah

Chetan Agarwal, 49, Environmentalist

A walk into the woods in the Aravallis a few years ago changed everything for forest and environment analyst Chetan Agarwal. Back home, he started looking for details on the mountain range, a patch of forest on the outskirts of Delhi that are fast losing green cover. It was then that Agarwal decided to start digging for details, data and information on the Aravallis.

In the years to come, he connected with local people, experts and institutes working in the area to save the 692-km-long Aravalli range spanning four states—Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.   
“The good part is that some parts of forest land is still with the community and they are protecting it,” says Agarwal.He conducts green walks for students and adults to apprise them of how the forest cover turns out to be a natural air purifier and fulfills ground water demand.     by Richa Sharma


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