The women that make Mangaluru proud

Mangaluru women are known for their charm, grace and strength and having won laurels in different fields all over the world. This women’s day, Sandhya D’Souza speaks to women from the city who have carried forward this mantle and have shone in their areas of expertise.

Manvitha Harish

Breaking the stereotype that one needs a 'God father' for entry into the film industry, this chirpy and charming Mangalurean has managed to set herself up as the new heart-throb of the Kannada film industry. With her new release 'Tagaru' opposite Sandalwood superstar Shiva Rajkumar, this talented Kudla girl says that her journey into the world of cinema is filmy in itself.

Born in the city, Manvitha Harish alias Shwetha Kamath was an instant hit and made headlines with her debut in Kannada director Soori's 2015 commercially and critically acclaimed film Kendasampige. What followed was a series of more successful ventures including 2018 January release Kanaka, Tagaru and two more films in the pipeline to be released after the Assembly elections.

The daughter of late Harish Kamath and Sujatha Kamath, Manvitha finished her matriculation in Chikmagalur district and later came back to Mangaluru to pursue her higher education. She completed her graduation at St. Aloysius College.

After briefly working as a popular Radio Jockey (RJ) at a city based private Radio Station, Manvitha Harish with her girl next door image soon took to Kannada films.

Speaking to Karnataka Today, the former RJ who has now transformed into a glamorous diva says she believes in being positive about one’s own aspiration as the key to success. "When I first expressed my interest in acting, many people told me that my goals were not practical. They tried to discourage me with their negative comments. But I didn’t let that pull me down. I was confident about my skills and talents, so silently I continued my effort and eventually proved my point," she says.

Winning several accolades, including for best debut female at South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) in 2016, Manvitha says she is very careful in choosing her scripts. "There is no luck by chance in film industry. One has to do their homework diligently such as choosing scripts before committing to a project," she says.

While adding that the film industry welcomes the talented with open arms, Manvitha Harish advises acting aspirants that one has to overcome the stereotypical thoughts.

Manvitha Harish’s Message - Trust yourself more than others. If someone says you can’t do it, don't pay heed to it. You are unique; Do whatever you want to do.

Honourable Mayor Kavitha Sanil

After a series of raids and a tough stand against violations, Mangaluru’s Honourable Mayor Kavitha Sanil was referred to as ‘Lady Singham’. It’s ok she laughs and adds that she is happy that people will remember her as a tough and courageous lady.

A student of the Government School, Kavoor who later pursued her High School and College at Besant Institutions, she says Karate was the main focus of her life in her growing years.

The 37 year old has a black belt in two Karate styles Indian and Budokon and claims to have 58 gold and 18 silver medals won at National and International levels to her credit. “I was a continuous champion from 1992 to 2008 and when I was participating the 2008 National tournament, I was 3 months pregnant but won gold again,” she says.

Speaking on her political career, she has a record of being the youngest MCC Corporator at the age of 21. I was elected from Marakadda area in the year 2002 and there was no looking back. “I have given my best and worked with all dedication, maybe that’s the reason for being chosen to be the Mayor of the beautiful port city, “she says.

While serving as a Mayor she also made a comeback in Karate. She participated in the Indian open karate championship which was held in Mangaluru in November 2017. She won the gold medal again.

“It used to be difficult. I used to wake up at 4 am for practice. From 10 am to late evening, I used to fulfill all duties as a Mayor. I also had to manage my family. I have a school going daughter and a toddler,” she says.

Kavitha has taken up a series of development projects during her tenure such as road widening, sanctioning the Pumpwell bus stand project, slashing Town hall's rent and much more. She also introduced the phone-in, in which she used to hear the grievances of the public and is all set to bring back the clock tower to Mangaluru that will bring nostalgia of the yesteryear to many.

For a woman to reach such heights, family backing is very important. "Be it my parents, husband Arun Kumar or my in-laws, they have been my backbone and encouraged me," she says.

Honorable Mayor Kavitha Sanil’ Message – Have an aim and be courageous. It is important to manage your home but also important that you achieve something for yourself.

Vathika Pai

Women are born with a gift to maintain work-life balance, so no excuses for giving up your dream, says Vathika Pai.

At the age of 28 years, Vathika created history becoming the youngest President of Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). Being the second woman at the helm of the prestigious KCCI, she is also the unanimously elected 53rd president of the Chamber that represents the trade and industry of Dakshina Kannada.

A huge responsibility on a young shoulder you may think, but for Vathika who at the age of 19, setup her own travel business in 2007, this is an outreach to closely work with the business and the community.

Even as she pursued her B.Com at St Agnes College, Vathika started Vathika International Travels - an extension to Nirmala Travels established by her parents C Upendra and Nirmala Kamath. “I am a second-generation entrepreneur in this business family, so I guess it runs in our veins,” Vathika told Karnataka Today.

Emphasizing that education plays an important role in enhancing personality and better perspective, Vathika went on to secure her Post Graduation in Financial Management in Manipal University in the year 2011.

She adds that running her own business has its plus points. "You are your own boss, but you need to be dedicated and focused and work with a vision. With Vathika International Travels, I concentrated on providing customized tour options for our clients, whereas Nirmala Travels focused on group tours. My initiative clicked and the firm grew,” she says.

Eventually she joined KCCI as a member and was elected on the board of directors. She served as the Secretary for KCCI in 2015-2016 and as the Vice President in 2016-17. In 2017 she was elected as the President. Vathika says she has won lauds from the KCCI's members for her initiative of hosting a series of programmes on demystifying the concept of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the trader’s community.

Along with the local tourism stakeholders, Vathika is actively engaged in boosting tourism potential of the district. "With a vast number of medical establishments, our focus for now is on promoting health tourism in the district, besides based on the education influx in the region we are stressing on the need to encourage start-ups and investment on IT infrastructure.

Recently married, Vathika says women are born with a gift to manage the work-life balance. "Hence, they need not give up on their dreams or aspirations when they want to start a family. They should explore their fullest potential and that the family will definitely stand by them,” she says.

Being the only daughter to her parents, Vathika says her parents hoped that one day she will take on the reins of the family business, an inspiring attitude to many in a country where still some prefer 'sons' to daughters.

Vathika Pai’s Message – Be confident while taking risks and challenges. Strive to your potential.


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