Sidharth Malhotra in conversation with Indian international scholarship students in Auckland

Sidharth Malhotra recently toured New Zealand as Tourism New Zealand’s first Ambassador for India. Sidharth was extremely impressed by New Zealand’s offerings from adventure activities to food and wine, local culture and the people themselves including Indian students who have chosen to study in New Zealand. The star took time out of his very busy schedule to chat to a group of Indian international students on his first stop in Auckland. Students from AUT University, Massey University, Media Design School, Unitec, and the University of Auckland came into school on a Sunday to ask the star their most burning questions at the University of Auckland’s Business School. Sidharth relished the opportunity to be back on a university campus after his debut film, Student of the Year. As a former rugby player for the Delhi Hurricanes, Sidharth was very interested to hear from New Zealand India Sports Scholarships students who were in the crowd. Surabhi Date and Ketaki Khare have been leading women’s rugby in India. Surabhi, a sport and exercise science student at AUT University was the youngest captain in the Asian women’s rugby circuit at just 19 years old and played in the first Indian sevens team. While Ketaki a sports coaching student at Unitec was a founding member of India’s first female rugby squad and the first Indian woman to win an international rugby scholarship. Sidharth and the rugby players spoke about their desire to push rugby as a sport in India. “It is very rare for a Bollywood star to have played rugby so it was an amazing opportunity to be able to speak with him. “It was quite a surreal experience. Through our shared love of rugby we were talking like peers. It didn’t feel like I was talking to a big star. He made us all feel at ease. I was also really impressed that he wants to leverage his fame to help elevate rugby in India,” says Ketaki. The students were keen to learn how they too could go on to become big successes. He advised them to never lose sight of their career goals. “Always write down your target and keep your focus on it. Be confident, and always say yes to opportunities,” said Sidharth. The students were particularly inspired by Sidharth as he worked his way up in the Bollywood industry starting out as an assistant director before he made it onto the screen. He also stressed the importance of working whilst studying as, for him, this was a key way to build up professional networks as well as learning new skills. “The real take home message from Sidharth was that success doesn’t come easy. It is hard work but as long as you are following your passions you will get where you want to be. He also recommended working in your chosen field, even if it is an entry level position, to get your foot in the industry door,” says Surabhi. The interaction ended with a raucous applause when Sidharth revealed he was supporting the mighty All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup. The next day he met with the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key who gave him an All Blacks jersey. Ziena Jalil, Regional Director, South and South East Asia at Education New Zealand comments on the significance of the interaction. “With a population of just over four million people, access to influential people is a big selling point in New Zealand but I don’t think these scholarship students expected one of these people to be a Bollywood star. “Not only did the students get the chance to meet with Sidharth, they got to share their passion for rugby in a country that really values and excels in sport and most importantly got career advice at a critical point in their lives. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sidharth’s words of wisdom will be invaluable to these sports scholarship students as they set out on their professional paths.” Eight of the ten New Zealand India sport scholarship recipients are female, reflecting the increasing interest in sport among women. All ten scholarship awardees will complete their year-long scholarships this month. 

About Education New Zealand: Education New Zealand (ENZ) is New Zealand’s government agency for international education. ENZ works to grow awareness of New Zealand as a study destination and to support New Zealand education providers and businesses to take their services and products abroad.

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