Vogue India, the country’s leading fashion, beauty, luxury and lifestyle multi-media brand has honoured it’s list of exemplary winners at it’s annual Women of the Year Awards in association with title partner, Serum Institute of India, and associate sponsors, Absolut Born Colourless and Liva Fluid Fashion hosted by model Diva Dhawan – Jyothi Venkatesh
The awards, now in its fifth edition in a magnificent virtual avatar for the second year in a row, was split over two days (26th and 27th November) and celebrated the unmatched power of women and their ability to accomplish marvellous feats across realms.
While planning the annual Women Of The Year (WOTY) awards, which bring together prolific women achievers for a night packed with glamour and excellence, this year virtually, Vogue India decided to spotlight these new rock stars who have leveraged their popularity and platform to effect change in their industries.
Take model-of-the moment Nidhi Sunil, who takes the role of an inclusivity champion in her stride, or legendary actor Salma Hayek, who made a prolific film career for herself while making a multilayered statement on ageism and diversity.
A quick throw of the javelin transformed winner Neeraj Chopra from obscurity into a track and field phenomenon.
He may be the new poster boy of Indian athletics, but his real victory is in seizing his Olympics gold to turn his little-known sport into an obsession for India.
This is the first time Vogue India has featured a male athlete on its cover. On the line-up are those whose ambitions revolve around a better planet and a tangible impact for its inhabitants.
At 15, scientist Gitanjali Rao is the youngest ever winner at WOTY while the oldest, Jane Goodall, at 87, is the most resilient face of hope.
Propelled by the times, these winners are redefining the world we live in by using their talent to break barriers in science, arts, business, sports and beyond.
Marked with pizzazz and exuberance, the event was defined by the calibre and the path-breaking prowess of these extraordinary women, who are redefining the world by using their talent to break barriers in their respective fields.
Below are excerpts from a few winners featured in Vogue India’s November 2021 issue:
The legendary actor Salma Hayek who juggles her roles as a producer, writer, philanthropist, superhero, mother and wife, shares her guide to living life to its full potential. She says, “My career has never been better.
At this time I don’t have any financial incertitude, which is difficult when you start as an actor.
Even if you make it in your thirties,you don’t know when people will stop calling you. There’s a lot of anguish.
Today, I’m healthy; I survived COVID-19 [Hayek recovered from a near-fatal case this year], and spiritually too, I feel very strong. I found my way.
I have a joyous internal life and I’m very much in touch with myself in that respect. The stronger I’ve dived in, the better my life outside has been.”
In 2021, a year that no one in modern history will soon forget, Alia Bhatt’s humanitarianism emerged once again.
Soon after she recovered from her own battle with COVID-19 in mid-April, Bhatt reached out to award-winning journalist Faye D’Souza with a proposal to use their combined influence to amplify relevant information pertinent to the second wave of the pandemic.
D’Souza, who was also feeling powerless with the devastating effect of the virus, immediately came on board.
“I wanted to try and help by sharing the right kind of information and connecting people to the right sources,” Bhatt says over Zoom from her Mumbai home.
“I started getting a lot of WhatsApp forwards with unverified information put together haphazardly.
I immediately thought that if I could leverage my social media following across all platforms, I could get the right kind of information to people.
But I couldn’t do that by myself because I didn’t have the required resources. So I reached out to Faye, who resonated with the idea because she does such a fabulous job with disseminating information herself.”
At 33, Masaba Gupta helms her own label and has a hit TV show in its second season alongside a growing community of nearly two million followers, But her eyes are always on the big picture: expanding her legacy.
The one thing she learnt on the job (and not at design school) was to value herself. “There were times when I was younger, when I didn’t have the language to articulate a fair deal.
I want to tell all young women, ‘Please do not give your brand away.’ Now I know my time and energy is priceless—and my focus is on longevity.”
If Love Sonia gave Mrunal Thakur a global stage, her Bollywood debut, opposite Hrithik Roshan in Super 30 (2019), made audiences sit up and take notice.
This year, with Toofaan, she honed her craft to play the supportive doctor who encourages Aziz’s (Farhan Akhtar) boxing career, and worked her way straight into our heart.
“I decided that the first few films I’m a part of must have a good script, but that the size of my role would not be so important.
After this, I’ll be really picky, but for now I want to work with the best filmmakers and understand the craft,” she says.
Most people who suffer life-altering accidents don’t go on to win paralympic medals. But most people aren’t Avani Lekhara, who won India a gold and a bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Despite the odds stacked against her—a teenage girl playing a sport overwhelmingly populated by men—she persevered.
Her rise to the top, though, didn’t come without its hurdles. The 20 year old rifle shooter says the initial years after her accident were “a nightmare”.
The only way out was to believe in herself. “Shooting gave me the self confidence to think I could do anything,” she says.
“I’ve represented India all over the world on wheels and I’ve been able to do that through positive affirmations. I’m totally in love with myself, and that’s how I know I have what it takes to make it.”
At 15, Gitanjali Rao isn’t your archetypal scientist, but her avidity for facts and her problem-solving approach puts her in line with some of the most brilliant thinkers of our time.
Rao’s maturity is evident when she says, “A lot of people tell me that I can’t do what I’m doing because of how old I am or because of the way I look.” It’s not new. Throughout history, women-led ideas have been sidelined.
But Rao is from a newer generation of scientists: “We GenZers are not restricted with a box around our head.
We’re not afraid to think big and think back to reality,” she says, as she continues to write books, hosts workshops for young innovators and hopes for better representation of women in STEM.
The event premiered worldwide across Vogue India’s digital platforms and to watch the repeat telecast, visit Vogue India’s Instagram, Facebook and YouTube channels. You can also follow the hashtag #VogueWOTY2021 for more updates.
List of winners 2021:
● PV Sindhu – Sportswoman of the year
● Lovlina Borgohain – Sportswoman of the year
● Saikhom Mirabai Chanu – Sportswoman of the year
● Avani Lekhara – Sportswoman of the year
● Anjula Acharia – Investor of the year
● Salma Hayek – Global icon of the year
● Masaba Gupta – Fashion entrepreneur of the year
● Indra Nooyi – Global business icon of the year
● Alia Bhatt – Agent of change
● Faye D’souza – Agent of change
● Shefali Shah – Performer of the year
● Sharmistha Dubey – Tech leader of the year
● Gitanjali Rao – Spotlight of the year
● Vibha Bakshi – Spotlight of the year
● Amika George – Spotlight of the year
● Mrunal Thakur – Spotlight of the year
● Bharti Kher – Cultural icon of the year
● Jane Goodall – lifetime achievement award
● Nidhi Sunil – Model of the year
● Sirisha Bandla – Newsmaker of the year
● Neeraj Chopra – Man of the year