When I took on Jwala Gutta

Badminton became a passion and I would regularly participate in the All-India Kendriya Vidyalaya meets.

Kirti Kulhari   -  Special Arangment

I started playing badminton when I was three years old. As a child, I would make it a point to play every day at our housing society in Thane, and that continued for years.

When I started playing initially, I didn’t have any idols, but later, when we were in middle school, we were told about Prakash Padukone. We belonged to a time when badminton was still not a popular sport among women, so initially it started as a hobby but later I represented Kendriya Vidyalaya at national-level tournaments. Since my father was with the Indian Navy, he encouraged me to take up the sport seriously and I remember playing the game even with the elderly uncles. It became a passion and I would regularly participate in the All-India Kendriya Vidyalaya meets and remember taking on Jwala Gutta in one of the matches. Jwala, too, was from Kendriya Vidyalaya and was a far superior player, so it was quite expected that I lost. But those memories still remain special. That was the time when Jwala was also a budding shuttler and not many people knew her. I don’t even know if she would remember that match, but that was quite an experience for me.

After school, I was undecided whether to take up badminton seriously or go for acting and I chose the latter, since I wasn’t too sure whether I would be able to sustain. But even now, badminton remains close to my heart and I try to play regularly. For the last few months, I am also learning to play tennis and that’s quite an experience.

This is what sports is all about. It gives you that positive energy and boosts the confidence and I think every child should be encouraged to play. In December, I wanted to watch the Premier Badminton League fixture between P. V. Sindhu and Carolina Marin, but could not make it. Even now, I try and watch badminton matches regularly because that is one sport that came to my life much before acting. And, badminton still remains my comfort zone.

Kirti Kulhari is an actress.

As told to Shayan Acharya.