Having made a name for herself in south Indian cinema, Navneet is India’s first parliamentarian of Punjabi origin to have been elected from Maharashtra.
“People say we should have a goal in life. I never had any goal but what I did have was the urge and habit to work every single day. When you keep working, then you can decide which goal to pursue,” says Navneet Kaur Rana, an independent Lok Sabha MP from Amravati in Maharashtra.
Born in a Mumbai-based Sikh family, Mrs Rana is the first parliamentarian of Punjabi heritage to be elected from Maharashtra. Her husband, Ravi Rana is also an independent elected representative in the Maharashtra state legislature from the same city, Amravati.
Together, the couple represents Amravati at the federal as well as provincial level, without any political party’s affiliation.
Mrs Rana’s life is a rainbow: it has shades of art, politics, language, multiculturalism and social service. A well-known filmstar from southern India’s world of cinema, she has acted in dozens of movies made in regional languages like Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam. She also has two Punjabi and one Hindi movie to her credit, in addition to several music albums.
“As a movie star, I lived the good life. My staff of makeup artists, hair stylists, dress designers along with film directors, assistant directors swarmed around me. Some sheltered me from the harsh rain with an umbrella. But today, when I go out into my constituency as a political worker, I’m oblivious to the heat and dust around me. I’m very lucky to have lived life on both ends of the spectrum,” says this 33-year old mother of a daughter and wife of a politician.
In a rare departure from the practice of lavish weddings often followed by Indian film actors and political leaders alike, Mrs Rana chose to have a mass marriage instead of the big fat fancy wedding her tribe is known to indulge in.
"Even though I was a film actor with a lavish lifestyle, after I started working with Ravi ji, we became grassroots political workers. So wasting huge amounts of money on a wedding was against our grain, which is why we chose to get married along with nearly 4000 other couples from various religions. Over 500,000 guests ate at our wedding, which is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest mass marriage in the world," says the young MP who is often seen raising issues pertaining to farmer distress in Lok Sabha.
This makes perfect sense for Mrs Rana. She traces her lineage back to Punjab, a state whose agricultural economy is in dire straits and represents Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, which has amongst the highest numbers of farmer suicides in India.
Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to this interview in Punjabi.
Listen to SBS Punjabi Monday to Friday at 9 pm. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.