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What a week at HRX Heroes with Hrithik Roshan. If the 5th episode shared with us the story of one of the most celebrated entrepreneur Kalpana Saroj, the 6th episode unveiled the story of the first female fire-fighter of our country Harshini Kanhekar. It is a must-watch story by all people, especially girls. Although, lot of changes has happened in our society in the last few years, still, intolerance to gender diversity is observed. Girls are meant to be submissive, just taking care of the house, or supposed to be involved in mundane kind of work. In spite of the fact that the world is rapidly evolving due to various transformations happening in various segments, and females having broken all the myths about themselves, handling the household things as well as boardroom responsibilities very efficiently, we cannot deny the fact that there are still many households in our country, where girls are meant not to dream. That is where, Harshini dares not only to dream and but also to fulfill her dream in spite of all odds.
Hrithik starts the episode with the same thought that there is discrimination against girls, who don’t have the freedom to dream. Harshini was stopped everywhere but she was so determined that she fulfilled her dream and became the first female fire-fighter of our country.
Her journey started on a very interesting note. During her graduation, one day, she noticed a group of NCC officers practicing. NCC cadets in uniform caught her fancy. The very dream of wearing the uniform made her explore the options for further studies and career.
She wanted to join National Fire Service College in Nagpur. The situations were strange and challenging right from the very beginning. After clearing the entrance examination, when she appeared for a personal interview, she was told that no girl so far has become a fire-fighter in Indian History, to which she responded very boldly that it does not mean that nobody can become.
In spite of clearing the entrance and the interview, another challenge was there in front of her to convince her parents, who were very reluctant for her choosing such a career path. They constantly asked her, whether she would be able to study amongst so many boys. She assured them that she would be able to study, but parents were not ready to buy-in her thought. The environment turned out to be grim at home. With her persistent efforts, Harshini ultimately could convince her family members.
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And the big day came, where Harshini’s dream to wear a uniform came true. She dressed up in uniform for her first day of college. She still vividly remembers what her father told her while dropping at college - “Himmat nahi haarna”.
It does not stop at knowing what you want, but you have to fight for it. The first step is always the toughest. One amongst many challenges was that this programme was a residential programme. And there was no hostel for girls till then. One must watch the show to understand how Harshini dealt with this situation, she was not ready to succumb to the situations. How she handled the co-ordinator at college, who mocked at her. Finally she was granted permission to be a day-scholar.
Harishini had less support in her favour, rather more people were there to discourage her. Being the only girl in a boys’ college, she became the talk of the college. Most of the students did not like her coming to the college. She was being told that it is not a beauty parlour, she might not be able to even sustain for 3 months. But Harshini was not going to be deterred by any of these. Rather these comments made her more responsible towards her dream.
Next challenge came in the form of physical activities although she was psychologically ready for the tough trainings. She could do all the activities as that of her male counterparts. Being a day-scholar, she used to commute to college by a cycle (more than 5 Kms). Harshini’s sister got choked when she was narrating how Harshini used to get exhausted at the end of the day.
Harshini was getting support from the trainers but no positive response from her course mates, which indeed made her journey tough. But Harshini was not ready to give up. She came out with flying colours in her final practical test.
The final scenes of the episode were very heartening. The very same Harshini, who had to face so many comments right from the instructor to her fellow students, later on earned respect from them. With her determination and hard-work, she could win over people.
Cast: Khushboo Atre (Harshini), Swati Singh (Harshini’s sister), Aditi Bahl (Mother), Vinayak Shawerkar (Father), Pravin Pachpore (Doctor), Prakhar Singh (Instructor), Tushar (Co-ordinator)
All the actors have brought the story alive through their convincing portrayal of various characters, be it Khushboo Atre or her parents Aditi Bahl and Vinayak Shawerkar. Tushar in the role of a co-ordinator, who makes fun of Harshini in the beginning and later on wanted to click a photograph with her during the farewell party was noticeable.
Hrithik as a presenter of the show is awesome. With his sheer presence, words and style of presentation, he adds lot of value to the stories of various HRX Heroes.
Lohe ko faulad banne ke liye aag se guzarana padta hai, dil me kuch karne ki aag thi, meet India’s first Female Fire-Fighter Harshini Kanhekar, who fought against the mindset that fire-fighting profession is meant for males only, and succeeded in becoming the very first female fighter. The roads she travelled were never smooth, but with her sheer determination, conviction, courage and hard-work, she could break all the barriers. Here is the story of Harshini Kanhekar, who was so fascinated by uniform that it got her landed in a job which was primarily dominated by male gender. She proved to the world that women are no less than men, neither in psychological nor physical strengths. Watch the repeat telecast of 6th episode of HRX Heroes with Hrithik Roshan only on Discovery Channel on 22nd November, 2015 – 8PM and join me in saluting this real life hero Harshini Kanhekar.
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