It was in Class 1 that Spoorthi Vishwas developed her earliest idea of what freedom truly meant. “My mother had separated from my father and she raised me all alone despite being a working mother and juggling a hectic schedule. As the only child, she instilled in me much confidence and brought me up with a strong sense of independence, giving me the freedom to choose right from wrong at that tender age. It could be from what I wanted to wear to what I wanted to eat; my mother let me make my own choices even as a six-year old. I realised the value of what freedom meant even as a child,” shares Spoorthi, who spearheads the Karnataka Women Achievers Awards (KWAA), a one-of-its-kind awards that is wholly nonprofit and seeks to recognise unsung women heroes from all segments of society including the marginalised communities.

“Once you taste freedom, it is addictive. I am lucky I had a mother who let me live a life free of prejudice, judgement and her own personal beliefs. She helped me to become the person I am today. Such was her emphatic belief in ‘freedom to be oneself’ that she never once questioned my choices. I remember how envious my friends would be when outdoor trips were being planned. While they had to think of clever ways to approach the topic and seek permission from their parents, all I had to do was to tell my mother that I’m going away on a trip with friends. Never once did she give into gender bias or dictate to me how a girl is supposed to behave. Societal norms were not for her. She believed in freedom at all levels and for all ages. And I personified her thoughts…I was the poster girl for freedom for all my friends,” states a proud Spoorthi.

The free bird is caught
at crossroads
Having lived a life of her own design and making and one that she lived as a free bird, her life took a complete 360degree turn when Spoorthi tied the knot with fellow actor Vishwas. “From leading a life with just mum and me, overnight I entered a home that had 10 people and one that cherished the orthodox values of a joint family. While my husband and mother-in-law never once imposed their thoughts on me, I went into a mode that was far removed from what I had truly been until then. I compromised on everything I had stood for. I limited myself in terms of what I wore, behaved, ate and spoke. Probably, I developed a notion that this is how a married woman in a large family should behave and gave up everything I liked. I have been earning and looking after myself since I was in Class 9 and entered the industry as a TV anchor. And here I was, after giving some of the biggest hits, sitting at home and quitting a career that had given me so much. It took the birth of our daughter Sanvi, two years into our marriage, to make me realise that I had to reclaim my freedom.”

“When Sanvi was born, it was an eye-opener for me. I told Vishwas that I couldn’t imagine sitting at home and restricting myself to just being a mother. I had been through a self-imposed sabbatical from all things dear to me, compromised on my freedom and I decided that I had to snap out of this. Years of living a life which was on my own terms had finally caught up with me and it set me thinking of other women who must have gone through their own challenging times, like I did. That’s when I convinced myself that this is the path that I needed to tread on. Get back to my old free self, jumpstart my career again and recognise fellow women who have their own tales to share — tales of women fighting for what they believed in and embodying the spirit of following their dreams and making a free choice.”

‘KWAA’ is a platform that believes in inclusivity, equality and diversity
“We are a year old today. But I’m glad that the Karnataka Women Achievers Awards has already become much spoken about and is one of the most-awaited events in the city. We seek to recognise and celebrate women across all segments of society including the LGBTQIA+, the differently-abled and acid victims among others. For example, Priya, the transgender woman who won the award last year is the first in her community to run a salon in the city. Pragya Prasun is an acid attack survivor who has been doing selfless work for others like her and Dhanya Ravi, one of our speakers this year, is a disability evangelist. Our other women achievers have also had similar tales of success, one which they have worked towards despite the pressure of families and motherhood. The underlying idea here is to raise a toast to all women who have believed in the single most powerful tool that we all seek to be equipped with — freedom. Freedom of thought, expression, words and most importantly, to just be! May every woman in the country realise the potential of what it means to be free to make her own choices.”

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