Always on a roll

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Mr Melbourne 2013 Puneet Gulati says he set his eyes on Bollywood when he was a child and hasn’t taken his eyes off since

As a child, all Puneet Gulati ever wanted was to be an actor. And marry his favourite star Karishma Kapoor. Well, neither dream came true – Puneet never managed to make a Bollywood debut. And he didn’t become Mr Kapoor either.

No, but the boy from Jalandhar became Mr Melbourne 2013 instead. A title, he says, he will cherish for years to come.

“Winning Mr Melbourne 2013 is like a dream come true. It has been a wonderful experience. It is an extremely proud feeling when you are representing your country and culture abroad. I am lucky to get a chance. There are lots of good memories, hard work, love and good wishes. I feel euphoric, excited and humbled by affection the crowd had bestowed upon me. This whole journey has been like a dream – beautiful, adventurous and amazing,” says Puneet.

“One of my school teachers and my mother always inspired me and I am really thankful to them,” Puneet, who adds that his mother has always stood by him, no matter what.

“I always nurtured a dream to be an actor. I won many acting and dancing competitions at the school level,” says Puneet.

Puneet says that as a teenager, when all he wanted to be was an actor, his father presented him with just two options — to either join the family business or go overseas and study. He grabbed option two, which he says is what made him the success he is today.

From Jalandhar, Puneet moved to Melbourne in 2007, where he did a diploma in IT Software Development and later switched to community service.

“I came here and did a diploma in IT Software Development. But as the demand changed, so I shifted to community services diploma and started working for Ventilator Support Services’. The work is pretty much similar to a nurse, actually is a level up. In the first year I was nominated as an OHS officer. After winning the election and being voted by the designated work group, I became OHS officer and represented 250 staff members for a non- profit organization. In May this year I was promoted as a House Manager to ‘Acquired Brain Injury Unit’ in disability services”, says Puneet.

In 2008, came a major setback. “I met with a serious accident in 2008 wherein my scapula got fractured and it took me more than two years to recover. That accident was a big jolt to my dreams,” adds Puneet, who says it was a strict exercise regimen that got him back on his feet.

After completing his studies in 2010, Puneet decided he needed to chase his real dream. He enrolled at the Suzan Johnson Institute for a four-month course in professional modeling. It was there that he learned about the Mr Melbourne competition. “I set my sights on the title and decided to work towards it,” says Puneet.

“More than 30 candidates including both girls and boys participated in this competition. There were boys from Pakistan, Australian-born Indians and boys from different Asian communities. I feel privileged I got selected. There were three rounds, which included Indian wear, smart casuals and semi-formals,” he says. “After that there were on-the-spot questions and introduction rounds. It was tough, but I came out on top in the end,” he adds.

Fortunately he met Robert Chuter, one of the best Australian theatre directors and discussed with him that I want to promote the Indian acting in Australia.

“I will be working with Robert in his theatre productions in 2014. He has offered me work in three of his plays — Teleny, The Hive and Never the Sinner, which are all based on novels. I have to learn French for them,” says Puneet.

Another small hurdle, but nothing the boy from Jalandhar can’t overcome.

And as for Bollywood, it’s still in the line of vision, says Puneet.

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