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Bollywood says Thank You, Teacher

It is true that teaching creates all other professions. Like Henry Adams had once said, “A teacher has the power to affect all eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”You may think of Bollywood stars as your inspirations, idols and what have you. But most of these names that resonate the world over, owe it to their teachers for unearthing or honing the potential that we see today.

You may think of Bollywood stars as your inspirations, idols and what have you. But most of these names that resonate the world over, owe it to their teachers for unearthing or honing the potential that we see today.

Let’s hear it from these shining stars on the silver screen, as they express gratitude through fond memories, of their teachers.1. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Actor

1. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Actor

“My favourite teacher has been Ms Lata Surendran, my dance teacher. In a way she laid the foundation of my career. She would be so hard to please if we didn’t get our expressions right – always yelling at us to ‘dance from the face’. I am so blessed to have had the privilege of having her hone my skills. She means the whole world to me!”2. Sushant Singh Rajput, Actor

2. Sushant Singh Rajput, Actor

Sushant Singh’s brother in law OP Singh

“The fact that I am what I am is because of two people in my life – Barry John and Shiamak Dawar. I will always be thankful to these two people. I adore, admire, respect them. It is rare to have this combination of a friend, mentor as well as guide in a teacher who will reprimand you, coax you, encourage you – basically treat you with kid gloves as well as wallop you. Both Barry and Shiamak are my friends, philosophers and guides and I have a heartful of gratitude for them. The other person I owe a lot to is my brother-in-law, OP Singh. He was the one who made me believe – even as a young kid that anything is possible as long as I don’t stop dreaming. I learnt from him that no problem is too big to be solved and to not to be bogged down by problems. He taught me how to work my around all problems. One of the reasons why I became academically qualified and then made a career removed from academics with absolute certainty is my brother-in-law. “3. Kailash Kher, Singer

3. Kailash Kher, Singer
“I think I am blessed because I got a father and a teacher, in one person. His explanations were so simple and non-complicated. But most importantly, he never made me feel as though he was ‘teaching’ me something. It was always an exchange – of ideas, thoughts between me and my father. I could go up to him with anything and anytime and that was because his attitude was so friendly and cordial. The other thing that was remarkable about him was that he never ever reprimanded me for my mistakes (and trust me I erred a lot!). Instead of scolding, he would always explain to me the consequences of anything and the impact it could have. This is the lesson I never forget – one must think of the consequence of one’s act before doing anything wrong in life. I tried to emulate that approach when I became a teacher in Delhi as well.”4. Shah Rukh Khan, Actor

4. Shah Rukh Khan, Actor
“Barry John taught me everything I need to know about acting. So it is all Barry’s mistake (laughs). Barry is a great teacher and above all, he is a great human being. I have learnt so much from him both on stage and off it. Barry will always have a special space in my life. I have always remained indebted to everybody with whom I have come in contact with at any point in my life. My parents have been my first teachers – they taught me how to live, my sister, who teaches me selflessness, my wife, who teaches me about love and patience and my kids who are constantly teaching me not to take myself too seriously. In fact, these days, my children are my best teachers. From patience to gentleness, to new songs and trends and even unconditional love, impudence and the ability to laugh out loud, and without a reason – I learn these from Aryan, Suhana and Abram.’

5. Mahesh Bhatt, Filmmaker

“My mother gave birth to me. But my guru UG Krishnamurthy granted me a ‘re-birth’. His thinking and ideals may have been revolutionary, but he never failed to ignite my ideas. He would always say that ‘a good teacher is the proverbial rock in your path because he should demolish what you are till you cannot rebuild yourself again as per his parameters’. And he did that to me.”

5. Vidya Balan, Actor
“It would be unfair to name just one teacher out of the so many that have shaped me and my life. But there is one incident that I would like to tell you about that really changed my attitude to life. For than one singular incident, I am grateful to a teacher who became the catalyst. I never enjoyed my knitting classes when I was in school. I always took the help of my Punjabi neighbour who would complete the pullover for me. I always came up with some excuse or another when my craft teacher would ask me why I did not do knitting in class. During the final exam I lied for the first time and got caught by her. I borrowed a pullover knitted by a friend to show her as mine. Unfortunately for me she remembered the colour of the pullover which was shown by my friend to her and she found that all along I have been cheating. I failed in my knitting exam. But I didn’t give up and kept pestering her for days and asked her to forgive me. She finally gave us passing marks. Today, when I look back, I realize how much of an impact it had on me wanting to put everything into something and not to do anything half-heartedly.”6. Ayushmann Khurrana, Actor

6. Ayushmann Khurrana, Actor
“My favourite teacher is Prof Ravindra Chaudhary, from DAV College in Chandigarh. And this is not only because he was the physical education teacher, but also because he was the mentor and in-charge of our theatre group in the same college. He actually not just ignited our passion, but also made sure we got enough opportunities and wherewithal to hone our skills. The kind of grants he would ensure we got for the group to stage plays, to travel etc were really unheard of. That was only possible because of Prof Chaudhary’s and our principal Prof Subhash Marria’s trust in our abilities.”

7. Bipasha Basu Grover, Actor
“Oh I have had the privilege of having a teacher who was both adorable and inspiring. When I was in Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan in Kolkata, my favourite subject was English. Ms Patrali Sarkar, the teacher for the subject, was also one of the reasons why I loved English so much. I remember I used to just stare at her when she would recite a poem so flawlessly. In fact, she helped me get over my fear of public speaking. And boy, was she a grammar nazi! She was completely forthright and honest in her opinion and that’s a trait I may have picked up from her!”

8. Shabana Azmi, Actor

“Life is really the best teacher. But I cannot undermine the value of my parents, my friends and various teachers who taught me so much about life. I have a special place for Professor Roshan Taneja who taught me acting at FTII and also made me realise that learning is a life-long process.”

9. Soha Ali Khan, Actor
“My favourite teacher taught History at The British School in New Delhi. And it is thanks to her that I got so interested in the usually considered boring subject that I decided to pursue it at Oxford University. Mrs Vineeta Uppal made history classes so interesting with tonnes of questions, anecdotes, little-known details. It was never about mugging up answers. And she had an amazing sense of humour and would often laugh with us in class. She would always be happy to share words of wisdom and was passionate about the value of education in life. Mrs Uppal would always talk about how education gives options and options will truly give a chance to do what one really wants to do. I am still in touch with her and she often shares advice with me.”

10. Dia Mirza Sangha, Actor-Producer
“Teachers have the power to change destiny and affect eternity. I went to Vidhyaranya High School in Hyderabad and I swear I remember every class teacher right through school. The one special teacher who shaped me into being who I am today was my teacher in Class II, Ms Namita Shrivastava. I cannot thank her enough for far too many things. I was a really shy child and did not have many friends and would often sit in a corner away from the hullabaloo at lunch time. She would often come up to me and share her lunch. She helped me come out of my shell and encouraged me to write and read and express myself through words.”

11. Priyanka Chopra, Actor

“My father taught me most of what I need to get ahead life. I credit my resilience, never-give-up attitude, and assertiveness to him. My love for music, the way I talk, my absolute love for food are all thanks to my father. He was so proud I could sing soprano in a choir. All this glamour and showbiz was very new to my dad. It was my mom who told him about my plans. I wasn’t willing to talk to him about it. Initially, he wasn’t convinced. But my mom and I reasoned with him and he got convinced. When my mom said that the Miss India pageant was just ‘a holiday in Bombay’ and I ‘would not win’, it was he who actually send to my mother – ‘You think so??’, rather sarcastically. Dad has always been super-encouraging. I wish he had also taught me how to get over the fact that he isn’t there, but I am sure even from wherever he is, he will guide me.”

12. Madhuri Dixit Nene, Actor
“I have had several teachers in school who nurtured me as a child. I particularly remember my Maths teacher who knew I was very fond of dancing and would participate in several functions in school. So every time I missed a class, she would make sure to revise what was covered in the next class before moving forward. She was always available if I requested her for time in the staff room outside of the class. Other than that, my mother taught me how easy it can be for a woman to balance work and home. She pursued her studies in music after having kids! In the film industry, a Madhuri Dixit was nobody without Saroj Khan ji. When we were doing Uttar Dakshin, the authoritative Saroj ji understood my problem – that I was a classical dancer – I had trained in Kathak and I did not know Bollywood dancing.

She taught me all that I know of Bollywood dancing. So most of Madhuri Dixit that the world knows of is actually Saroj Khan. She is the wind beneath my wings and the spring in my steps.”

13. Karan Johar, Filmmaker
“I was never much into academics. For me, my first and best teachers were my parents for the kind of values they instilled in me. From my father I learnt the value of hard work and from my mother I learnt tenacity. Other than that, I cannot even measure the lessons I have learnt from Aditya Chopra. After my parents, I regard Aditya as my most crucial teacher. He made me realise my passion for the movies and taught me everything I know about cinema. He is the reason I am here today.”


Text by Aarti Kapur Singh

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