Bikini athlete Shweta Mehta, winner of reality show Roadies Rising, has a furious father waiting for her back home in Haryana
Shweta Mehta and Neha Dhupia in Roadies Rising
Shweta Mehta isn't quite sure if she should celebrate. She has been declared winner of MTV Roadies Rising, considered one of Indian TV's toughest reality shows. But, her father isn't exactly pleased.
He made a call to her from their home in Fatehabad, Haryana, and sounded livid. "And that's strange because until yesterday, he was showing me off," she says over the phone from Bengaluru, where she is now based.
A picture of her wearing a shirt — giving the impression that that's all she is wearing — was published in Punjab Kesari, a Hindi newspaper with a strong footprint in the north. "Our neighbours in Fatehabad didn't appreciate the photograph. All the excitement they expressed over my win disappeared. Just two days ago, I was the toast of the town. I was being felicitated at schools, people were coming over to wish me and hoardings with my photos were everywhere. Now, no one will talk to me," she says, baffled. Her father and brother skipped work to avoid embarrassment at work.
Shweta Mehta as the bikini athlete
But, if Mehta, 28, has learnt anything from Roadies, it's to overcome a challenge.
Although a daughter of Haryana, she has spent the last seven years in Bengaluru where she works in the IT industry. The computer engineering graduate is now a senior software developer.
She was looking for some excitement when Roadies happened. But here too, disappointment came her way first. She was rejected twice in the audition rounds, in 2014 and 2015. "I made up my mind that I was going to work on myself before I gave this a third shot. I was inclined towards fitness and I decided I'd make it my passion."
It was essential that she figure how she would distinguish herself from the thousands of contenders. "I reached to 50 people, some of them fitness trainers, some athletes, to try and get direction. Deepika Chowdhury, a bodybuilder from Pune, responded listing the various contests I could participate in," she says. Mehta chose Jerai Classic India, a bodybuilding competition with a bikini round. The criteria was to have a proportionate physique that was also feminine. She won the bronze in 2015 and gold the following year.
That's when life took a turn. Her mother, who didn't agree with her choices, cut off communication for a whole year. Her father, interestingly, after seeing her pictures, thought she was up to some good. "But, they wanted to get me married, not have a career. I was adamant," she remembers.
Mehta bagged a few endorsements, and finally aced the Roadies audition. "I didn't even have enough money to make it to the last audition in Chandigarh. My brother and friends pitched in for my ticket. But fate was on my side this time." The challenges kept piling on at the show. She was older than the rest of the 18 to 25-year-olds, and she didn't have people skills. "No one was talking to me after the first week. Because I live alone, I am a recluse. Then, I started making an effort. They saw me as a threat," she says. Roadies Rising, in its 15th season, saw four gangs take on each other — each led by Rannvijay Singh, Nikhil Chinapa, Neha Dhupia and Prince Narula. Mehta found herself in Dhupia's team. "I shared a good rapport with her. I told her, promise me one thing: when I win, you will give me your hairstylist so she can do my hair. I insisted that she promise. She did, and here I am."
Future plans include collaborating with gyms across the country as brand ambassador, and scouting for more reality shows. And, assuage her family. "I can't convince them really. I have no clue what will happen," she says wistfully. "But I'll keep fighting. That's how I won Roadies."
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