Whether it’s in the world of glamour, the political arena or the lives of the underprivileged, Nafisa Ali continually makes her marks, creating a niche for herself, as a graceful woman who means business. Dedicated, hardworking, motivated and enterprising are just few words that sum up Nafisa Ali, the woman with the warm pearl-like smile and determination, who makes a difference in any area she touches. With her glowing skin and her trademark salt and pepper hair, she is an undeniable beauty dedicated to the compassionate care of others.
Nafisa Ali hails from a very renowned family. She is the granddaughter of noted Bengali writer, S. Wajid Ali and the daughter of the well-acclaimed Indian photographer Ahmed Ali. An alumni from La Martinere Girls College in Calcutta, Nafisa Ali is married to an army officer, Col R. S. Sodhi, who is an Arjuna awardee for polo.Maintaining a perfect balance between her personal and professional regime, Nafisa Ali embodies the complete woman, with innumerable achievements to her credit.
With many jewels in her crown, Nafisa Ali’s life glitters with an array of achievements. Her organised and consistent participation in elevating the lives of women, children and the downtrodden has made her an icon of social reform. She is most well-known for winning the crown for Miss India in 1976, and grabbing the first runner up title at the Miss International contest held in 1977 in Tokyo. Ms. Ali, with her grace and beautiful persona, is also a celebrated actress, starring in memorable roles in movies like Junoon (1979), Major Saab (1998), Bewafaa (2005) and most recently in Life in a Metro (2007). She is also a board member of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
Interestingly, Ali is also a noted athlete, becoming a national swimming champion between 1972 and 1974. In fact, she is the first woman to be honoured with the title of Chairperson for the Women’s Commission of Indian Olympic Association.
Apart from her celebrity status, Nafisa is also invested in spiritual endeavours, studying Vedanta extensively under the guidance of Swami Chinmayananda who began the Chinmaya Mission of World Understanding. In September 2005, she became the Chairperson for the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) and is also the Executive Member of “Umang Charitable Society” and the Chairperson of the “Action India Trust.” She has also made a touching documentary movie “Where did we go wrong?” based on the people of the Gujarat. She started a home care facility, “Ashraya” for HIV infected people, which provides patients with holistic care and support. Finally, she represented India officially at the 49th UN Summit on the Status of Women held in New York in March 2005.
Though Ali was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother, she has married a Sikh and speaks like a true patriot when she says “The Muslims are not a cause…my country is my cause. I am a human being first. My mother was Roman Catholic, my father is Muslim, I am married to a Sikh and I believe in Vedanta.” Her endeavours to reform society and help the needy can be seen in her active participation in organizing charity balls for AIDS support, her backing of welfare reform for the families of the army wives, providing relief to the grief stricken, devastated people of Orissa when a cyclone struck and shattered their lives, and reconstructing the homes of the people of Gujarat when they were struck by the catastrophic earthquake.
When I discovered that Nafisa went to the same school as me and also served the family of army soldiers as I did, it touched a chord within me that proved to me that the glow on her face did not come from cosmetic applications and facials but from a place of peace and contentment within her heart.
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