Five fantastic women on fatalism and their date with destiny

Shruti Haasan, Kubbra Sait, Neha Dhupia, Zohra Shakti, and Preeti Shenoy contemplate the idea of fate and navigating life on their own terms.

Harper's Bazaar India

Life can be compared to a game of cards. You sometimes get a good hand, sometimes a horrible one. Now that you're at the table looking to change your fortunes, what matters are the choices that will prove to be make or break. Call it luck, fortune, or destiny, it's doing things your way that sets you on a path that becomes your true calling. 

We got five Bazaar India contributors who speak about the ways of the universe, finding the magic in the unknown, walking the road that leads them to their goals, and more. 

Shruti Haasan, Actor and Singer

"Life may deal you a bad hand, or take away a good hand you were already you turn it around is the game of life, isn’t it? When it comes to matters of destiny, a lot is based on what one makes for themselves. And while there are those who depend on the powers of the universe, I believe in paving my own path; living life on your own terms is ultimately what changes the course of your journey. While there are several factors that come into play, such as destiny or luck, fate isn’t an overarching defining force in one’s life. Instead, your faith in yourself is what defines your course. If you ask with faith, chances are, your request will be granted. We’ve all been handed heirlooms from our families—our childhood memories, our ways of thinking, be it positive or negative—and as we grow older, we must turn them around for ourselves; build on what is good, and work on what is bad. Doing so does not rest on fate, but your grit and the will to manifest your best life. Of course, there are things that are beyond one’s control...the loss of a loved one, heartbreak, financial upheaval, and so on, but would I call it destiny? Perhaps, not. It is just part and parcel of life.

Funnily enough, on the day I was born, a play of fate came to the fore. My father wrote down a name for me...‘Mruti’, and my mother read it as ‘Shruti’. Shruti refers to all the conceivable notes in music...and the rest is history. I do believe that people come into our lives in the form of an angel or a demon. The universe places different people in different junctures of our journey, for a reason. On the professional front, I had never thought I would pursue acting—or be in front of the camera. My first film came to me by chance, and thereafter, sheer determination helped me carve my own niche in the industry. In reference to the nepotism debate, while I do feel that hailing from an influential family, or having the right connections can open the door of opportunities quicker, it is your diligence and determination that counts.

When I look around me, I am surrounded by people who have fought their fate, their birth order, a difficult situation at home, or their physical and mental disability to make a better life for themselves. Ultimately, we are all handed a deck of mixed cards. And when these cards are shuffled, they come in a certain order. It’s a game of life...and it all depends on how you play." 

Kubbra Sait, Actor and Author

"As the adage goes, ‘Life isn’t happening to you. It is happening for you’...The way I look at it, destiny is an amalgam of consistent choices made with awareness. At my core, I believe I am a blessed human. I have faith that a force greater than me is propelling me in the direction of evolution and growth. We are in charge of the outcomes that we desire...and I say this after reflecting upon my own experiences.

Nothing comes without hard work and commitment to the goal you set for yourself. And in case things don’t turn out the way that you anticipated, make sure you still show up, every single day...Relocating to Mumbai after working at Microsoft was considered to be a bold and brave move—a calculated risk that I had taken with a clear sense of purpose. I had to block out the noise and stay true to myself. It was for me. It was my dream. When I kept pushing life are caused by standing in on our own sunshine.’ I am living a dream that was once bleak...

Of course life comes with its fair share of challenges, but if it wasn’t so, the thrill of life would be amiss. I may have watered down a few years by being a people-pleaser, but now, I tell myself to listen to my gut...and look where it has brought me. We’ve only just begun."

Neha Dhupia, Actor and Entrepreneur 

"Oftentimes, I have questioned the powers of the universe. ‘I know I worked hard...what next?,’ I ask myself. Only to come to realise that it is a confluence of the right place, the right time, the right circumstance, and your best efforts. Whatever happens, happens for a reason—and the right reason, might I add. Working hard is an integral part of life; it is imperative to take matters into your own hands, and the only way in which one can do so is by acknowledging what your heart desires. If you’d asked back me in my 20s, my perspective on life would have been a lot different... But today, I want to take charge. Remember to give yourself time, give the universe time. Believe in the process—be it destiny or fate at play.

From winning the Miss India pageant title in 2002 to beginning my career in the film industry, turning producer, and even becoming a mother, my journey has been an interplay of destiny and determination. Today, at 42, I tell myself: ‘Allow life to take its natural course. You have to walk the extra mile to reap the fruits of your labour.’ The days you ask, ‘Why me?’,  remind yourself that there is someone out there, acting in your best interest.

Zohra Shakti, Priestess, Alchemist, Tarot Empress, and Crystal Therapist

"We are the Universe in motion...or as it is said in Sanskrit, aham brahmasmi (the unity of the atman or soul). Given that we are 'source' having a human experience, how can we be powerless? Visualise a cosmic conference in the skies, you are charting your own course, as your ancestors and spirit guides offer support...

You hold the power to write your own story—the myriad experiences you will go through, the people you will meet along the way, and more importantly, the challenges that will catalyse growth. While our destiny serves as the overarching script of life, free will lends us room to wriggle and chart our own course in the human realm. Back in the day, on my way to college, I’d often come across a hoarding that read ‘tarot’. This was over a decade ago—a time when there were no pop culture references about the esoteric. Without giving it much thought, I opted for tarot reading as my subject of study, coupled with other disciplines as a safety measure.

Believe it or not, my professor picked tarot reading...and the rest is history. Was it meant to be? Was it written in the stars? Believe that your hunch, your impulse, will lead you in the direction of growth... The unknown is where the magic lies; the divine plan is already in place. Never second guess yourself. You must simply trust.”

Preeti Shenoy, Bestselling Novelist and Illustrator 

"I do believe in fate; ironically, I also believe that one charts their own destiny. And while they might seem contrary, they are, indeed, two sides of the same coin. We cannot fight what is to come, but we can certainly walk the road that leads us to our goals. Even our dreams must be fuelled with action, for them to materialise. But in the same breadth, if the heart does not get what it desires, hold your head high, for there is something better in store for you...

Lessons are learnt from failure and rejection—in preparation for the better things that lie ahead. I’m a tarot card reader, and unlike astrology, where certain events are ‘fixed’ or destined, the tarot simply shows you the course your life may take. Think of it as a global positioning system (GPS) that presents the potential obstacles you will encounter en route to your destination. Now, it is up to you to go down that road—or not. Destiny has played a colossal role in my life... While I’ve always written, I had never envisioned becoming a published author with 15 bestseller books! It was a domino effect, set in motion by my destiny, in addition to sheer discipline and resolve, courtesy of me. It was the year 2006. My father, whom I was extremely close to, passed away all of a sudden, while in conversation with my mother. He was just 66...with minimal to no age-related ailments. I was overcome with deep grief, and as I found myself drowning, I commenced my blog. I began penning the mundane moments of life, which are what make life all the more special. Life need not always be grand, and when we learn to cherish the smaller, simpler joys, life becomes magical. When my father was snatched away from me, it drove me to write with a ferocity I never knew I was capable of. I came to terms with the fact that we cannot fight our destiny... We do not know what is going to happen in the next hour, even. It is just an illusion of control that we possess.

All that we have is this given moment—the here and now. Yes, we may not have power over the dreadful things that could potentially happen to us, but we do have a choice in deciding how to respond. Turn your grief into a stepping stone, an agent of growth, and transform yourself into the best version of you. My father’s passing pushed me to write every single day, and the ultimate outcome of these consistent actions gave me my first book. Over time, the one multiplied into 15. Remind yourself, time and again, that the best is yet to come. Back then, I wouldn’t have believed it, and yet, here I am, living my dream.