Scaling Heights-One Act at a Time

Akriti Jamwal. Updated: 11/10/2017 1:35:56 PM We the Women

Kusum Tikoo

The present time can arguably be termed as the best for women folk belonging to Jammu and Kashmir in the glamour world; with more and more women from state not just making it to the glam world but glimmering there. But when even today many in our society alienate this field, wonder what it would have been like in the 90’s. We the Women, has brought for you about the journey of a lady who, although stumbled in the world of lime-light but has fixed her feet and stood firmly there for more than two decades now. She is an inspiration and mentor for many who wish to make it to the world of acting. Without further ado, let’s know about this exemplary woman. Shall we?
KusumTikoo, is young at heart, chirpy and pleasant to ears and embody of the positive vibes, a person who would befriend anyone in few minutes. She started her career in 1993. For a person who has worked in a field as long as she has and still exhibits such immense passion and for it, like her journey has just begun, induces nothing but awe in you.
Kusum says reminiscing, "When I began my career, I was never obstructed by my family; I was blessed. Many people around me, like they still are, even today, were reluctant towards the world of television. But there is nothing you cannot achieve without the support of your family."
A girl, who was once upon a time, teased as a tomboy while she was growing up by her friends and family, had an ordinary but enriched childhood. Initially, a sportsperson and a national Handball player, Kusum had no clue what life had in store for her. Kusum was first child to Vijanti Tikoo and Bansilal Tikoo; despite being one among three daughters, against the general notion, Kusum’s wings were never allowed to be clipped by the prejudices of society and were only aired by her father and same goes for Kusum’s siblings Suman and Bindiya.
When she enrolled in Degree College Udhampur, Kusum’s life was all set for her first rominent turning point. “When I was in first year, I started participating in Cultural festivals, Inter-college events and so on. On one such occasion, I accompanied a girl for an audition; for the first time, Doordarshan was launching a serial from Jammu. Although I had no plans to audition but the in-charge officer Rubi Singh and director Ashraf Shraf asked me to enact few lines and so I did. And by end of it I was asked to inform my parents that I would be with them for 10 days”.
Kusum adds, “It came naturally in me; I neither had any training, nor had I ever aspired to be in front of the camera. May be it was destined to be.” She also jokes about how a burger at the end of the day used to feel like such huge reward for her dedication towards her work.
Kusum debuted with ‘Chere’ and that was just the beginning of her uphill journey. Today, she is not only a renowned artist but only one from the state who’s prolix in all regional languages of the state and hence has worked in both Kashmiri and Dogri serials, along with Pahari, Hindi and Urdu. Kusum has worked in almost 100 serials for DD One; DD Kashir and DD Urdu. She has also been an anchor for Zee Kashmir. She has also been a producer since 2002, starting with ‘Mujhe Awaz Do’. Kusum has a Dogri film ‘ReetPahari’and ‘Lakeer’ to her credit. Her recent work includes, acting in Siddhartha Gigoo’s short film ‘The Last Day’ which was screened in London as well as Kenya Film Festival besides at Pune, Mumbai, Jaipur and Films Division Film Festivals. She has in her kity, Best actress Award, 2008, Drama festival too. “I have been blessed to work with best of actors, directors and producers. Now, I aspire to direct a movie one day that would be my ultimate goal,” shares Kusum.
Kusum has been married to Akhil Gupta for around Ninteen years and is mother of a son. Even marriage could not strangle the growth of this high-spirited woman and only acted as a boon. Kusum is panel producer with DD Kashir and one of the most prominent anchors in the city. Her schedule is mostly marked by either hosting or judging events, along with various projects. Kusum worships her profession and believes it can pierce through the walls of divisions of diversity. “Artists are above the divisions of caste, community and religion. It has been a blessing for me as I was embraced and appreciated by people of Jammu and Kashmir equally. Despite being a Kashmiri, I was well accepted by people of Jammu and admired for my work in Dogri serials,” says Kusum.
On being asked about most fascinating instance of her journey, Kusum shares, “There has been an occasion when we would go to a remote area for shooting and the natives would gel so well with us that they would seek advice for their matters. That connection with those unknown people has always moved me to keep on expanding my horizon as an artist.”
Kusum has been immensely appreciated and awarded for her work and dedication; she is recipient of Young Women Achievers Award 2014, Great Women Achievers Award 2015, Women Achievers Award 2016, Betiya foundation Award for Art and Culture. She has been felicitated by more than 12 government departments like income tax, CA&PD, Legal Metrology, BPCL, IOC, JMC and by more than 50 Cultural Forums and Corporate Houses; has been honored with Sharda Samman at Abhinav Theatre, honored by Dogri Sanstha for contributions in free verse poetry recitation of Poems of Ved Rahi and Sangeeta Gupta, honored for anchoring the prestigious Jammu Mahotsava 2017 and honoured for anchoring the prestigious Bhadewah Festival right since 2012.
According to Kusum, “When passion collides and combines with Profession the result is cosmic. Having deep pockets is not all that matter, what matters is being a good human being, good parents and mentors. Biggest accomplishment for me is earning the love and respect of people around you. My passion and profession showered me with it all," expresses Kusum. She further adds, “I recently had the privilege to host the prestigious show of Adnan Sami, Lakhwinder Wadali, Kamal Khan, Vinod Rathore and other eminent personalities. I love each day I have spent in this field, be it as actress, anchor, director, and producer.”
Speaking about the women of Jammu and Kashmir, Kusum says, “I feel elated whenever I get a chance to mention about the women of Jammu and Kashmir. We have women enthroned in various field, we have bureaucrats, politicians, lawyers, doctors, actresses, educationists, authors, artists; we have plethora of talent among the women around us. We the women of the ‘Crown’ of the nation are truly born to rule.”
To women out there, Kusum’s words are, “A Goddess enshrines within each of you, whether you are a professional or house maker, educated or not, whether you wear jeans or suit; you might have soft heart but just know that once your resolve is strong and you dedicate to be determined and persistent, nothing can stop you. Never underestimate yourself and other women around you. Always support and encourage women around you."

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