She’s found her calling

She’s found her calling

Swaroop Sampat wows audiences with her brilliant acting each time she chooses to appear on screen, but of late, she has turned down acting offers as she is busy imparting training to teachers and educating children in remote villages, writes Shilpi Madan

Swaroop Sampat

She tugged at the heartstrings of thousands as the dementia-afflicted mother of Vicky Kaushal in the recent blockbuster Uri; earlier endearing herself to the millennials through her rather progressive mindset as Kareena Kapoor’s mother in the trailblazer movie Ki and Ka. Former Miss India Swaroop Sampat wows the natives with her brilliant acting, each time she chooses to appear on screen.

Not that she ever required a beauty pageant title to validate her beauty. Sleek-boned, gifted with an even more sharper acumen, and powered by the desire to help the less privileged, Swaroop has, over the years, left an indelible impact on many in the audience across the country through her unforgettable role as Renu, in the telly sitcom Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi in 1984; in films like Naram Garam, Saptapadi and most importantly, in spreading the light of hope and education in the lives of children with special disabilities. She is one of those who are blessed with both beautiful looks and an intelligent mind apart from being the perfect better-half of acclaimed actor-politician Paresh Rawal.

Leaving an impact

“I still have some of the clothes I wore as part of the iconic telly serial Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi where I played Renu, I still fit into them,” she reminisces with a soft smile as we chat at her apartment in suburban Mumbai. “For me the length of my role is immaterial, as long as it carries impact. When my son returned after seeing Uri, he said that even with my 10 minutes of screen presence, he was absolutely blown away. That mattered so much to me,” she smiles.

But over the past two months, Swaroop has turned down five film offers and a web series, as she is busy imparting training to teachers and educating children in remote villages. Few know that Swaroop made it as one of the 10 global finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2019 conducted by the Varkey Foundation, having been selected from amongst 10,000 nominations across 179 countries worldwide as a finalist. “Teaching children is my calling in life, and I discovered it by sheer chance,” shares Swaroop.

“Almost 20 years ago, when my children were in school, I was the chairperson of the parent teacher association. Then an opportunity came up to be involved with teaching special kids. I began teaching children for a year, through the medium of drama. Soon enough, I was able to pursue my Phd from the University of Worcester. I was awarded a full scholarship, had the opportunity to do the data collection in India and even submitted my final proposal as luckily, the final interview was conducted in India. God made everything fall into place. I was meant to do this.”

Swaroop has been travelling to the interiors of the country, sojourning through Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Uttaranchal, Karnataka, Puducherry... imparting the knowledge of her unique teaching skills to countless teachers, and educating students free of cost. “My work as a teacher gives me immense satisfaction. It is time-consuming as well, hence I need to pick my movie assignments carefully. Only if they are worth my time, do I sign on films,” she says honestly, having trained over 2.5 lakh teachers in Gujarat and over 1 lakh teachers in Maharashtra, and many more teachers for the Azim Premji Foundation.


“I feel love and empathy are emotions that solve many problems. I believe in negotiated learning, through love. Learning must bring joy at the end of the day for you and the child,” she smiles. “I come from a privileged background and have a loving, supportive family in Paresh and our two sons. Paresh told me when I started out that by the grace of God we do not need the money, so I must not charge a single rupee for teaching the children. He advised me not to copyright my work. The idea is to duplicate the methodology as much as possible so that it reaches maximum children. I want as many children as possible to benefit through my teaching techniques.”

Swaroop is associated with Save the Children, UNICEF, Gujarat State Council for the Protection of Child Rights, and scores of NGOs. Her wattage as an actor, a former Miss India, a star’s wife does help in gaining access to the key persons in the government to be able to reach out to maximum children through schools in villages. All while she essays unforgettable roles on the silver screen. “Absolutely. Every morning I want to get out of the bed, fast. There is so much to do,” she signs off with a smile.”


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