Special: Meet our Devis from Kolkata, this year

Here is the dossier on the 15 deserving women who are to be felicitated today at the Devi Awards for their contribution in diverse fields of profession

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  28th July 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  28th July 2022 12:00 AM
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Devi Awardees 2022

Meet the Devis we are celebrating with Indulge, The Morning Standard's Devi Awards. They comprise 15 women from diverse fields of profession in Kolkata, who have shone bright despite the odds in life. As Devi comes back for the second time in the City of Joy, here's a closer look at the living goddesses whom we are felicitating at the event today.

 

 

Jhulan Goswami, Cricketer

Former captain of India's national women's cricket team Jhulan Goswami  is regarded as one of the greatest women fast bowlers of all time. One of the fastest bowlers in the history of women's cricket, Jhulan won the ICC Women's Player of the Year award in 2007 and the M.A. Chidambaram trophy for Best Women's Cricketer in 2011. Goswami was ranked first in the ICC Women's ODI bowling rankings in January 2016.  Her record of taking the highest number of wickets in Women’s One-Day international cricket stands unbroken till date.  Jhulan has also won the Arjuna Award in 2010 and Padma Shri in 2012. Inspired by her life on the pitch, currently, Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma is shooting for Chakda 'Xpress, where she plays this fearsome bowler.

 

 

Swastika Mukherjee, Actor

A powerhouse of talent, actor Swastika Mukherjee's oeuvre boasts of some very impressive films including Jaatishwar, Aami Aar Amar Girlfriends, Maach Mishti & More, Shaheb Bibi Golam, Sesher Kobita and Guldasta to name a few. Her impressive work in the web series Pataal Lok, Black Widows and Escaype Live has earned her national renown and her latest film Shrimati is running successfully across the theatres, now.  An animal lover, a champion of local weaves, a fashion icon and a proud single mother, Swastika wants to be remembered as a ‘compassionate human being with a straight spine who lived life on her terms, unapologetically.’ 

 

 

Richa Agarwal, Chairperson of KCC and CEO of Emami Art

Creative communicator and visionary Richa Agarwal is a force to reckon within Kolkata's artscape. She has gifted the city Kolkata Centre for Creativity, a humongous multi-disciplinary enterprise to nurture and showcase artists and art of all kinds. Both Emami Art and Kolkata Centre for Creativity have added dynamism to the city’s thriving culturescape. Richa also started the Ami Arts Festival during the thick of the pandemic, which has now turned into a go-to event for affordable artwork.

 

 

Nandita Roy, Filmmaker

The only female director who has been delivering commercially viable films year after year in this male-dominated industry, Nandita Roy doesn't need any introduction to the Bengali cinephiles. All the films that Roy co-directs with Shiboprosad Mukherjee, have tight plots, impressive storylines and relatable cast, turning them into major box office earners. A few remarkable ones among them include Prakton, Belaseshe, Haami, Kontho, Muktodhara, Posto, Gotro and Belashuru besides others.

 

 

Priyadarshini Hakim, Social Activist and Entrepreneur

Priyadarshini Hakim juggles the roles of a mother, an entrepreneur and a communication professional with equal elan. Her passion for bringing about a social change reflects through her work in the areas of women’s health and menstrual hygiene. She has been spearheading different projects such as Pratimashe Pratima-she for the upliftment of women deprived of proper health and menstrual care. She has also been conducting workshops and awareness programmes in and around the city for the past few years. With a deep interest in social welfare and philanthropy Priyadarshini stands as a tall inspiration to many.
 
 

Seema Sapru, Educationist

Educationist Seema Sapru who helms The Heritage School as its principal, is feted for her out-of-the-box approach towards education. Recipient of many prestigious awards including the Pride of the Nation Award, she is a trained Evaluation Leader for the International Baccalaureate and an inspector of schools for accreditation for the CISCE. Under her leadership The Heritage School has seen many innovative methods and approach towards teaching the children in a more fruitful manner.

 

 

Sanaya Mehta Vyas, Entrepreneur and Fitness Expert

 An enthusiastic sportswoman, Sanaya Mehta Vyas leads the women’s rugby team from the front at the local level and is VP of Rugby India. A fitness instructor who specialises in kickboxing, pilates, primal movement and a host of other forms of exercise, Sanay is a fashion icon and a businesswoman.

 

 

Paromita Banerjee, Fashion Designer
 
When it comes to sustainability in fashion, nobody has done it better in Kolkata than fashion designer Paromita Banerjee to preserve the old Indian art of weaving tales. The NID alumna has consistently worked for the preservation of homegrown handwoven ensembles and successfully so. The couturier has been working with 100-150 weavers in seven clusters across the country for the past 13 years. Feted for her jamdani weaves in pure handwoven cotton, Paromita's creations have been flaunted by the likes of Vidya Balan, Nandita Roy, Shubha Mudgal and Swastika Mukherjee among others. But for Banerjee, who's USP is simple, effective textiles that will stand the test of time, it's more important to reach the ordinary people since they are ones who will keep the weaving tales going.
 

 

Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, Scientist

An inspiration to many women, Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay is the first women director of the prestigious Indian Statistical Institute. A Padma Shri recipient, she is also a member of the Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council of the Prime Minister of India (PM-STIAC). Specialising in computational biology, her discoveries include a genetic marker for breast cancer, determination of co-occurrence of HIV and cancers and the role of white matter in Alzheimer's disease.

 

 

Tapati Guha Thakurta, Cultural Historian

A cultural historian, Tapati Guha Thakurta is currently an honorary professor of history at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. She has helped build a vast range of digital visual archives documenting paintings and photographs of historic significance. It was Guha Thakurta’s dossier on the Durga Pujas of Kolkata for the Ministry of Culture that got the biggest festival of Bengal listed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

 

 

Debarati Mukhopadhyay, Author

With over 20 bestselling novels in her kitty, author Debarati Mukhopadhyay is certainly one of the most popular young Bengali writers. She has penned many bestsellers including Narach,  DakatrajaGlanirbhabati BharatShikhandiIshwar Jakhan Bandi, and Aghore Ghimiye Shiva. Her novel Dashgupta Travels had been shortlisted for Sahitya Akademi Yuva Pursakar in 2021.  Many of her works, such as, Narak SanketRanrkahini, and Shikhandi have been adapted for the silver screen.

 

 
Vandana Alase Hazra, Dancer

Bharatnatyam dancer, Vandana Alase Hazra has contemporised the traditional dance form of Bharatnatyam with her unique storytelling. Working closely with young and aspiring dancers, she explores liberating dance movements and has travelled across the country with her shows. A disciple of Guru T.V. Saunderrajan, Vandana is deeply inspired by dancer Mandakini Trivedi’s work. A guest faculty at Rabindra Bharati University, Vandana also got a prestigious fellowship from the Ministry of Culture in 1992. She also holds a keen interest in languages and published various Marathi to Bangla and Marathi to English translations for Sahitya Akademi and Rupa.

 

 

Alka Bangur, Industrialist and Philanthropist

An IIM alumna, a successful industrialist, an avid golfer, painter and pianist, Alka Bangur wears many hats successfully. The MD of LNB group of companies, is also the president of All India Marwari Mahila Samity since its inception in 1995, that plays a pivotal role in various social welfare initiatives. But beyond all of that, she is a philanthropist first, who works relentlessly for the underprivileged girls and women. 

 

 

Dr Sushmita Roychowdhury, Pulmonologist

Dr Sushmita Roychowdhury was one of the most prominent frontline warriors during the entire period of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pulmonologist at Fortis Hospital clocked over 21 hours a day and handled 190 to 200 patients each day during the peak period of the pandemic. With 25 years of experience in the field and expertise in Interventional Pulmonology, ILD and Critical Care, Dr Roychowdhury is committed to her noble profession. We salute the Covid-19 warrior for her extraordinary efforts.

 

 

Preeyam Budhia, Patton Group; co-founder, Cafe ICanFlyy
 
A passionate champion of sustainability and water conservation, Preeyam Budhia is the force behind the unique Water-on-Wheels initiative and several Rainwater Harvesting Projects empowering women and children in rural India. Her innovative initiatives during the pandemic - the Contactless Safe Hand Wash Station and Contactless Waste Bins & Crates were exemplary. In addition to her role as President, Patton Group, Preeyam is also the Co-Founder of Cafe ICanFlyy - a cafe run by special needs individuals.
 

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