From waitress to HRD minister: The journey of Smriti Irani

The list of film stars/ sports personalities turned politicians is quite impressive. From Navjot Singh Sidhu, Kirti Azad to Dharamendra and Govinda, all have joined politics and has become MP’s. But when it comes to television stars the trend is yet to be established. It is very difficult to name many TV stars who have successfully transitioned into politics. But off course there is exception to everything and in this case, the bright exception is Smriti Irani, the current Human Resource Development minister of Government of India. From model to TV star and now successful politician, it has been an interesting journey for the lady.

Born in a Bengali-Punjabi family in Delhi, Smriti was the eldest of three sisters. When she was in school, an astrologer told her parents that she has a bleak future and will not be able to do anything noteworthy in life. But Smriti had other plans. After failing to get the necessary support from her family she decided to shift to Mumbai after taking a loan from her father. During the initial days in Mumbai, she worked as a waitress in a McDonald's restaurant. She joined the Miss India contest in 1998 and reached the finals. After getting rejected several times in auditions, she finally landed her first television role in a show named ‘Aatish’. Her first lead role was in the series ‘Kavita’ in 2000. While doing rounds of TV studios, she was spotted by noted producer, Shobha Kapoor. Despite objections from other members of the production, she got the lead role of ‘Tulsi Virani’ in the soap opera, ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. From there was no looking back for her. The show became hugely popular and so did her character, earning Smriti the nickname of ‘India’s bahu’. She has won 17 awards during her TV acting career.

In addition to acting Smriti had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2003. She contested for the first time in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections but lost. Without getting disheartened by the loss, she became even more active in politics and in 2010 she was made All India President of the party’s Women’s wing. In recognition of her efforts for the party, she was made a member of the Rajya Sabha in 2011. She contested in the 2014 general elections against heavyweight candidate Rahul Gandhi and lost. But her hard work was acknowledged and she was named by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the HRD minister in his cabinet. At 38 years, she is the youngest minister of the cabinet. We will now have to see what she has in store for us in the future.