Her sur­name screams ‘Kat­tappa’ from Baahubali. But Divya Sath­yaraj is not the star kid to be known by her fa­ther’s lau­rels. The nutritionist and so­cial cru­sader is an achiever in her own right, as So­ci­ety finds out in this can­did chat

Society - - CONTENTS - By CSS Latha

Nutritionist and so­cial cru­sader Divya Sath­yaraj is not the star kid to be known by her fa­ther’s lau­rels. The daugh­ter of prom­i­nent Tamil ac­tor Sath­yaraj is an achiever in her own right

Divya Sath­yaraj was in the news when her open let­ter to our Prime Min­is­ter went vi­ral. The let­ter urged that Mr Modi ad­dress the is­sue of harm­ful mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments mar­keted by a few Amer­i­can phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers in In­dia. Divya stated in the let­ter how the sup­ple­ments con­tained in­gre­di­ents that should be banned from pre­scrib­ing to pa­tients. The vi­va­cious and bold lady is none other than the daugh­ter of su­per­star Sath­yaraj, bet­ter known as Kat­tappa from Baahubali. Like her fa­ther, Divya too is a spir­ited girl, who dares to call a spade a spade and takes her so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity as a nutritionist very se­ri­ously. She is a qual­i­fied nutritionist by pro­fes­sion and is cur­rently prac­tis­ing as a con­sul­tant in two dif­fer­ent med­i­cal units (Suman clinic and Be­hanced clinic in Chen­nai), apart from pur­su­ing her doc­tor­ate in the sub­ject af­ter hav­ing com­pleted her MPhil as a di­eti­tian. “I was the skin­ni­est girl in our colony. I just hated the sight of food. My neigh­bours had fat and fluffy kids and my par­ents were des­per­ate to make me eat. But they did not want to force feed me. Dad was against telling me sto­ries of the boogey man to make me eat. So, my par­ents came up with an in­ter­est­ing man­ner of telling me sto­ries about food and its nu­tri­tive value and grad­u­ally, I started en­joy­ing food,” the nutritionist who once hated food, shares her in­ter­est­ing ini­ti­a­tion into nu­tri­tion. She in­sists that hers is a very health-con­scious fam­ily. “My brother and I tried dif­fer­ent di­ets when we were teenagers. Dad would come back from his shoot and ex­er­cise, how­ever tired he was and mum is a re­ally good swim­mer. She goes for a swim ev­ery­day. Hence, I had made the de­ci­sion to study nu­tri­tion very early on in life. I be­lieve food can heal and I have al­ways be­lieved that a bal­anced diet is im­por­tant to build a strong im­mune sys­tem and for a healthy life,” opines the Good­will Am­bas­sador of The Akshaya Pa­tra Foun­da­tion (TAPF). Apart from work­ing to­wards cre­at­ing nu­tri­tious mid-day meals for un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren through the foun­da­tion, Divya is in the process of au­thor­ing a book on nu­tri­tion.

“I don’t want to be preachy. But I also don’t want it to read like Dr Ru­juta Di­wekar’s book. I was taken aback on how she spoke about her pa­tients, mock­ing their ig­no­rance. I will never do that. That’s not my way to make it funny. On the other hand, der­ma­tol­o­gist Rashmi Shetty spoke about pro­ce­dures. I feel it’s not so glossy as she pro­jected it. Also, I am quite an anti-pro­ce­dures per­son. More­over, Ru­juta used Hindi words which many of us don’t fathom in the South. I don’t want to use lo­cal lan­guage in my book. These are the two chal­lenges I am fac­ing while writ­ing my book,” the au­thor-to-be shares her con­cerns. With nu­mer­ous celebrity clients, both from Kol­ly­wood and the sports field, Divya is al­ready in de­mand among the di­eti­tians in Chen­nai. But that doesn’t stop her from be­ing an avid film lover and cri­tique. Although she has con­sciously kept away from tak­ing to films as a ca­reer, she plays an ac­tive role in her dad’s ca­reer in terms of choos­ing his roles. In fact, she has been read­ing her dad’s bound scripts and giv­ing her views on them since she was 10 years old. “I am very pas­sion­ate about films but I al­ways wanted a sta­ble ca­reer and live a nor­mal life,” Divya smiles, adding, “We are an out and out movie fam­ily though. Our con­ver­sa­tions are ba­si­cally about movies and food. Our way of cel­e­brat­ing birthdays is by watch­ing a film and go­ing out to eat.” De­spite her fa­ther be­ing the top league ac­tor, the papa’s doll rev­els in the fact that her daddy dear­est has al­ways man­aged to strike a bal­ance be­tween his ca­reer and fam­ily. “Dad is a hands-on fa­ther. Un­like most star kids who tell me that their moth­ers brought them up as their dads were busy shoot­ing, my dad never gave us a rea­son to feel his ab­sence. He was there through­out. As a child, I could run to him for can­dies and toys. As a teenager, I could speak to him about PMS is­sues, crushes, boyfriends, break-ups, just about ev­ery­thing. He has been the go-to per­son for any cri­sis. On the other hand, mom has been a dis­ci­plinar­ian,” she says. Ever since the first part of Baahubali re­leased, wher­ever Divya went, peo­ple were cu­ri­ous to know why Kat­tappa killed Baahubali. “I did not ask him about it even once and nei­ther did my mom or brother. That was the only se­cret that dad kept from me though we are the best of friends,” she laughs. Com­ing back to nu­tri­tion, Divya strongly opines that medicines should be made more af­ford­able. She did an in-depth re­search project on the work­ing of gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals and ended up be­ing ut­terly dis­ap­pointed at the way they func­tion. “Peo­ple had to bribe to get more blan­kets. It was so want­ing in terms of clean­ing the op­er­a­tion the­atres and re­cep­tion ar­eas,” she re­veals. Divya is cer­tainly in­spired by her fa­ther in rais­ing a voice against so­cial in­jus­tices. Her open let­ter to the PM proved that as well. Re­count­ing the sit­u­a­tion, which de­manded her to com­pro­mise on her eth­i­cal val­ues,

“Why Kat­tappa killed Baahubali was the only se­cret that dad kept from me, though we are the best of friends”

Divya shares her first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence with the man­u­fac­tur­ers from US, who forced her to pre­scribe their prod­ucts like weight gain­ers, weight losers and a mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ment. “I was shocked to see the la­bel as the mul­ti­vi­ta­min had more than the ap­proved Vi­ta­min A which is dam­ag­ing to the liver lead­ing to mal­func­tion and their fat burn­ers and weight gain­ers were full of steroids. So I told them that I can­not pre­scribe them. The next I heard was that they will give me a higher com­mis­sion for pre­scrib­ing the drugs. Then they said they were be­ing hosted by a min­is­ter which sounded more like a threat,” she re­counts. When Divya de­manded to see their med­i­cal ap­proval cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, they said, ‘Since when did In­dian doc­tors get so par­tic­u­lar about sci­en­tific va­lid­ity? Any­way, this will not cause a ma­jor side ef­fect and by the time the pa­tient re­alises it, you can ween them from it.’ Divya was so out­raged that she bluntly re­fused to pre­scribe their prod­ucts. The for­eign­ers in­dulged in an ag­gres­sive ver­bal al­ter­ca­tion, scream­ing at her and her re­cep­tion­ist be­fore storm­ing out. Next morn­ing, Divya read a pro­mo­tional ar­ti­cle in the pa­per on the prod­uct and when she dis­cussed the mat­ter with some doc­tors, they said it was a cen­tral is­sue and she should re­frain from get­ting in­volved in the con­tro­versy. “That’s when I de­cided to write an open let­ter to the Prime Min­is­ter. I listed the en­tire con­tent and how they were not con­ducive to be con­sumed. I ad­dressed ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing the dis­mal con­di­tion of gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals, the need to ad­dress is­sues like NEET (Na­tional El­i­gi­bil­ity cum En­trance Test) and more,” she speaks in a tone that sug­gests ut­most ur­gency. Five min­utes af­ter she posted the let­ter, it went vi­ral. “I don’t know what ac­tion it ini­ti­ated but the let­ter ex­posed the un­healthy nexus be­tween the med­i­cal field and the man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies at the cost of pub­lic health. I am happy that it brought some aware­ness.” Divya plans to meet the Health Min­is­ter now to dis­cuss the mid-day meal pro­grams of TAPF and the clean­li­ness is­sue in hos­pi­tals. “I have plans of start­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion/clinic with a few friends who are doc­tors, where I pro­vide free nu­tri­tion coun­selling and free vi­ta­mins to peo­ple be­low poverty line. I do not charge con­sul­ta­tion fees from Tamil refugees and poor peo­ple even now and have been pro­vid­ing free vi­ta­mins to those who need them. But I would like to start an or­gan­i­sa­tion that does it in a large and more or­gan­ised man­ner. I am work­ing on it right now and would like to start it in a cou­ple of years with my own earn­ings. I don’t want to turn to my fa­ther for the fi­nances. I have been fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent for quite a while now,” she preens. Divya surely has her heart in the right place We wish her all the luck and suc­cess for this very no­ble vi­sion.

“I am very pas­sion­ate about films but I al­ways wanted a sta­ble ca­reer and a nor­mal life”

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