'Life starts from zero, so that's love all for me'

Talented Shuttler

Much like her name, Jwala Gutta is a flame which is always burning bright. Fiery and outspoken, her journey both on and off the badminton courts has been highly eventful.

She terms it “adventurous” and won’t like to trade it for anything.

Her feat as the doubles badminton player in the country is unrivalled and Jwala has unhesitatingly used her stature to raise her voice against what she felt was unjust. Not surprisingly then, the 14-time national champion’s run-ins with the national federation has matched her accomplishments in the sport.

The neatly etched tattoo "love all" on her right palm, therefore, sticks out as almost ironical. But that is Jwala, simultaneity of hot and sweet, of strong persona layering the childlike vulnerability.

“I believe in love-all.  I believe in spreading love.  I feel everybody’s life starts from zero, so that’s love all for me,” Jwala tells Metrolife on the sidelines of ongoing Li-Ning BWF Thomas & Uber Cup in the City.

“For me my mental peace is important. I cannot imagine myself being somebody else, I am happy the way I am. I know I have lost a lot in this more than gaining, but what I have gained is special and is close to my heart. I can survive like this my whole life.”

Born to Chinese mother Yelan and Telugu father, Kranti, Jwala says she inherited her self-righteousness from her mother. “I think I am stubborn, do things which I feel is right, like my mom. She is a strong woman. She was married when she was 20. She came to a new country and getting adjusted in a big Indian family, typically agricultural family, not that orthodox but still very traditional was very difficult,” says Jwala, who won the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold partnering Ashwini Ponnappa and bronze at the World Championships in 2011. “When I started playing the sport, my grandmother didn’t like me wearing shorts but my mother remained firm. She wanted her kids to grow independent and strong. She has her own business now and she is doing great.

It was Jwala’s father who nudged her into badminton. “I feel a woman who plays badminton is very ladylike. That really attracted me to badminton. I started with playing tennis but I think for a woman, badminton is the best sport to play. The men's badminton game is very manly, smashes and all, while the women's is different” she says.

The 30-year-old, who is eyeing Rio Olympics, now wants to give back to the sport by opening her own academy. “Government can only provide coaching, but after coaching, no one takes the responsibility. I would like to work with the government and take the responsibility of taking a player forward.

However, it is not just the badminton which occupies this six-foot glamorous shuttler. When not playing, she likes letting her hair down and chill out with friends. While her dance performance in Telugu movie, Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde wowed many, Jwala chooses to be self-critical. But she has not closed the option of giving silver screen another try. “Whatever I do in life I enjoy it completely. I would love to do a commercial movie where there is less attention on me. The limelight can be on the actor and I can just take part in it,” she says candidly.

Ask her about settling down and pat comes the reply: “It depends on what is your idea of settling down. I am largely settled, I am an independent woman, I have a house and car and I pay my bills, but if you are talking about a person, why not.”So is she seeing anyone at present? “No,” Jwala says and breaks into a smile. We leave her at that!

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