Dr Swaroop Sampat is synonymous with the practical Renu of the iconic television soap Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi. The progressive Ma of Kareena Kapoor from Ki and Ka, the dementia afflicted mother of Vicky Kaushal from Uri. But few know that the Indian actor, who was also crowned Miss India 1979, is a proficient life skills educator who has been shaping the lives of lakhs of children across India through her unique teaching techniques.

Excerpt from a conversation:

Actor and social worker Dr Swaroop Sampat believes in teaching kids out of love. The international award winning teacher shares ways of connecting with children
You made it as one of the 10 global finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2019 conducted by the Varkey Foundation. How have things changed since?

Honestly, nothing has changed. In India, teachers are not important. We keep saying that they are. But it is just for effect, as it sounds good. It is all about rote learning, “cut and paste” and gaining marks, not about education. The truth is that at every stage in your life, it makes a world of a difference if you have a good teacher.

Very few people know that you were selected from amongst 10,000 nominations from 179 countries worldwide as a finalist.

True. But mine is not a headline-making story, even though I have been struggling resolutely to change perspectives. I come of a privileged back ground. I have not struggled barefoot to rise to where I am today. But it is still a herculean challenge, breaking mindsets to educate the children of my country. I teach out of love.

You have turned down five film offers and a web series over the past two months…?

See, I am happy with a 10-minute role (like in Uri) as I make an indelible impact. My son came home after watching the movie and said, “Mom, your performance of 10 minutes on one side and Papa’s (actor Paresh Rawal) performances on the other…I was simply blown away by you in Uri.” That mattered so much to me. I am busy with my teaching schedules spanning Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Uttaranchal, Karnataka, Puducherri… 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.

Shilpi Madan for Indian Express

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