Meet the devis that we are celebrating at the Devi Awards instituted by The New Indian Express and presented by Adani Group. The award ceremony will take place in Kolkata today and will honour and recognise the extraordinary work of the women achievers of the city.
The awards comprise 12 women from diverse fields of profession in Kolkata, who shine bright despite the odds in life. As the Devi Awards comes back for the third time to the City of Joy, here’s a closer look at the living goddesses we felicitate at the event on October 5 evening.
Saloni Jhunjhunwalla | Entrepreneur
Saloni Jhunjhunwalla started The Salt House out of her passion for food, travel, and entrepreneurship. Having studied journalism at The University of Westminster and worked at several organisations, Saloni thought of starting something of her own with the idea of the European restaurant The Salt House in 2014. Her vision became a reality in 2018 but in between, she also came up with another passion project called Kaos Gourmet. According to Saloni, The Salt House is all about well-curated gourmet experiences, and thus, quality has always taken precedence over quantity. Combining her love for travel, the diner often organises food pop-ups in collaboration with talented chefs across the country, offering a variety of cuisines to the Kolkata gourmands.
Shivika Goenka | Educationist and fashion entrepreneur
Shivika Goenka’s latest venture is the state-of-the-art RP Goenka International School, a world-class institution for international education. The school has state-of-the-art infrastructure, the latest teaching technologies, and a team of highly qualified faculty members. With the school, Shivika aspires to set a new benchmark for excellence in international education in India. Shivika also serves as the director of Quest Mall, spearheading the premier luxury retail destination in East India. She also founded The Loft, an exclusive pop-up space for curated events featuring renowned international luxury brands, designers, and distinguished artists from around the globe. She is also the creative force behind 'The Gift Studio,' a digital gifting portal that offers a diverse range of exquisite gifts available across India in all cities.
The brains behind The Wardrobe, a new multi-designer boutique showcasing Indian prêt-wear labels, Shivika has surely set new trends in the city’s fashionscape.
Rimi Nayak | Fashion Designer
Fashion designer Rimi Nayak whose eponymous label completed 15 successful years in the global fashion scene, is no new name in the country’s fashion scape. Specialising in travel and resort wear, her collections display a mélange of contemporary and eclectic bold prints and colours. An advocate of sustainable and ethical fashion, Rimi’s approach to fashion upholds eco-friendly fabrics and local artisan communities. An alumna of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Rimi has showcased her collections at countless national and international fashion weeks including Lakme Fashion Week, and her outfits have been worn by popular celebs as well.
Nilina Deb Lal, P.hD | Architect and heritage professional
A heritage professional, architectural historian, and activist, Nilina Deb Lal’s research interests encompass the history of late 19th and early 20th century Calcutta, with a view towards conservation and heritage management strategies. Her advocacy manifests in heritage walks, workshops, writings, public discussions and advocacy campaigns among others. Her work ranges from stakeholder discussions for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway to research on the evolution of Kolkata’s urban fabric under the Calcutta Improvement Trust. She is also a part of the research initiative focusing on Victoria Memorial Hall, which is jointly organised by Syracuse University and Yale University. Nilina has a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, and is a recipient of fellowships from the Paul Mellon Centre for the Studies in British Art, and the India Foundation for the Arts. A Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Nilina is also the author of Calcutta: Built Heritage Today published in 2006.
Churni Ganguly | Actor and director
National Award-winning actor, director and writer Churni Ganguly is a well-established name in the Indian film industry. Ganguly forayed into theatre and television while pursuing her education at Jadavpur University before stepping into the role of a school teacher. But her creative side pulled her to Mumbai where she became a national face on television. Her repertoire of works as an actor includes Chhoti Si Aasha, Lokkhi Chele, Laptop, Waarish, Haami and Drishtikone. This year her movie Ardhangini, takes the credit of being the first superhit Bengali movie of 2023, so far, with the film running to packed houses for months. But what put the national spotlight firmly on her this year is undoubtedly Karan Johar’s much-acclaimed movie Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, where she played superstar Alia Bhatt’s erudite mom. A deep thinker, so, far, Churni has written and directed Nirbashito (2014) and Tarikh (2018), both of which earned her National Awards for Best Bengali film, and Screenplay for Dialogues respectively.
Iman Chakraborty | Singer
Singer Iman Chakraborty got her first break when record label company Saregama decided to produce her first album Boshte dio Kachhe. The album drew the attention of composer Anupam Roy, who was searching for a fresh voice for his composition Tumi Jaake Bhalobasho. The song from the film Praktan earned her the National Award for Best Female Playback Singer. Following this, she lent her voice to a number of popular film and non-film tracks, that turned her into a household name and fetched her a host of prestigious accolades including a National Award, Sangeet Shamman, Bangabhushan Samman and more.
Satabdi Roy | Actor and politician
A prominent figure in Indian cinema and politics, Satabdi Roy has worked in Bengali, Assamese, Odia and Bangladeshi film industries. Roy's acting career took off in the late 1980s, and she quickly rose to stardom with her exceptional performances in films like Atanka, Guru Dakshina, Antardhan, Apon Amar Apon, Raja Rani Baadshah, Abhimanyu among many others. A household name, Satabdi also acted in plays. Besides acting, Roy has also directed a few films including Abhinetri, Friends, Om Shanti, Dhaki and Poriborton. A 3-time Trinamool MP, who’s committed to the people of her constituency in Birbhum, she has successfully shed her screen image and quickly became rooted to her constituency. An accomplished writer and poet with 10 published books in Bengali, Satabdi Roy's journey reflects her dedication to both arts and public service.
Jaya Ahsan | Actor
Five-time Bangladeshi National Award-winning actress Jaya Ahsan is no new name on this of Bengal. A class actor, Jaya has mesmerised the audiences here with her impressive acts in the much-feted films like Bisorjon, Robibaar, Bini Sutoy, Aborto, Konttho and Bijoya. Jaya is also one of the leads in Kaushik Ganguly’s Ardhangini, which is one of the biggest hits in Bengali cinema this year so far. A sensitive artist, Jaya is also all set to debut in the Hindi film industry with Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s next film, starring Pankaj Tripathi. A dog lover, gardener and champion of Bangladeshi muslin weaves, the softspoken actress is also the brand ambassador of UNESCO in Bangladesh.
Tiasa Adhya | Conservationist
Tiasa Adhya has been working tirelessly since 2010 for the conservation of the Fishing Cat, the State Animal of West Bengal, also raising awareness about its critically threatened ecosystem -- the wetlands. The Fishing Cat is a symbol of wetlands -- our food supermarkets, water reservoirs and purifiers as well as our carbon sinks. Adhya also works on this threatened wild cat in Odisha's Chilika, the largest lagoon of Asia. Because of her team's work the Fishing Cat was officially adopted as Chilika's ambassador. Adhya received Nari Shakti Puraskar -- the highest civilian award for women in India -- in 2016 in recognition of her work on conservation of the Fishing Cat and nature. Last year, she received the prestigious Future for Nature award from the Netherlands, which is bestowed to three conservationists from around the world annually. Apart from this, she considers herself to be a student of Ecology, a subject that examines the relationship between nature and living beings including humans. A prolific writer, Tiasa has published more than 100 articles in science communication as well as editorials in leading newspapers. She was also a regular nature writer for the student's section at The New Indian Express, Chennai edition.
Sarita Ganeriwala and Sarika Ginodia | Co-founders of the fashion brand Karomi
Sarita Ganeriwala, a graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda and a postgraduate in Textile Design and Development from NIFT Delhi, set up the label Karomi in 2007. Her journey began with a single weaver from rural Bengal, whom she convinced to weave experimental Jamdani motifs instead of the traditional ones, thereby setting the tone for what is today the unconventional Karomi Jamdani. Her sister Sarika Ginodia, the CEO and co-founder of Karomi, is a qualified chartered accountant, with over six years of experience as a research analyst. Sarika handles the label’s management affairs, providing more sustainable business leadership to the firm, steering it to further growth. The duo dreams of helping Karomi to evolve and innovate while empowering the artisans through ethical and eco-friendly luxe handloom fashion. For its innovative handloom weaving, Karomi received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts twice, in 2012 and 2014. The brand was chosen to represent the Bright Future of Indian Handwoven Textiles on the occasion of the 9th National Handloom Day celebrations organised by the Ministry of Textiles, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Paoli Dam | Actor
Talented and renowned actor Paoli Dam needs no introduction in the world of cinema. The beautiful star’s oeuvre boasts a range of cinema that covers both commercial and serious films. Starting her career with Bengali serial Jibon Niye Khela, Paoli has an impressive body of work including Gautam
Ghose’s Kaalbela and Moner Manush, Debesh Chatterjee’s Natoker Moto, Rituparno Ghosh’s Shob Choritro Kalponik, Atanu Ghosh’s Takhon Teish, Leena Ganguly and Saibal Banerjee’s Maati, Pratim D. Gupta’s Maacher Jhol, Anvita Dutt’s Bulbbul and Tigmanshu Dhulia’s series The Great Indian
Murder. The actress also plays a pivotal role in Vishal Bhardwaj’s debut webseries Charlie Chopra: The Mystery of Solang Valley that’s currently garnering rave reviews and her latest film, Kaushik Ganguly’s Palan is running in theaters successfully.