Pakka uttara Karnataka appata Kannada hudugi, Pratibha Saunshimath was born on 2nd November 1966 to Kamala and late Dr. V S Patil Kulkarni. She is the eldest of four siblings. During her schooling years, she traversed many locations in Karnataka, that laid the foundation for her versatility and constant search for innovativeness. She studied at the Divine Providence School in Belgaum (nursery to 4th std), St Joseph’s convent in Dharwad (std 5 to 7), St Joseph’s convent in Gulbarga (std 8), BEL Factory School (std 9) and East Wood High School (10th std). She majored in BSc at Maharani College in Bangalore.
From the beginning, she was into sports and extracurricular activities and excelled at them. In Dharwad, she always made her way to the All India Radio station every Saturday and Sunday to participate in their kids’ programs, either by enacting something or by singing folk songs. She nurtured her passion for Bharatanatyam as well. Her talent was infectious; she caught the attention of all with her art.
Sports took off in Gulbarga, but she saw massive growth during her college years, where she was professionally coached for athletics at the Kanteerava Stadium from 1985 to 1987. She won several medals at district-level women athletic meets and at the Bangalore University athletic meets. At the Bangalore University volleyball tournament in her college, she made her first appearance on Bangalore Doordarshan channel for sports and later played women’s cricket for two years, in which they won the third place in a state league match.
After getting married in 1987 to Basavaraj Saunshimath, she led a pure homemaker life for years before she stepped out of her comfort zone. She choreographed and hosted cultural shows in Hubli and moved to Bangalore in 2001, she was a part of Shiamak Dance School, where she was also a member of their special potential batch in 2003. She found a bigger break in 2008 where she worked as a production designer for a Kannada movie, ‘Prem Kahani’.
Her destiny came calling in 2014 when she first participated in the Mrs India pageant and came back with the first runner up title. In 2015, she entered the studio round of Zee TV Dance India Dance Super Moms Season 2. Later that year, in May she became the first South Indian to win the Mrs India crown and that too at the age of 49. She represented India in the Asian World Finals to win Classic Mrs Asia International Mrs Photogenic, becoming the first Kannadiga married woman to hold an international title.
After achieving so much for herself, she decided to do something for others who aspire and dream big like her. Realising that South Indians have no such platforms to grow, especially married women, she started Mrs India-Karnataka in 2016, which gave women a chance to dream beyond and reach national and international stages like never before. So far she has mentored hundreds of women to not only win at State levels but also made sure her students win at least one National and International title for Karnataka every year. She has counselled many women to build their confidence, trust in themselves and make their lives better.
Today, she is lovingly termed as the “Queen Maker” and “Mother of all Divas”. She is also popularly called “Kannadathi” as she offers her respects to her mother tongue by starting her speeches in Kannada.
She has appeared in nearly 30 advertisements, which includes print, digital and TV. She has one short film ‘She for Her’ in her credit and also had a tiny role in the Tamil film KANAA. She has been regularly contributing articles for Kannada dailies, has her columns in fashion magazines and used to write for Vijay Karnataka. She is also a regular on all regional TV channels especially those concerning panel discussions.
Pratibha Saunshimath has always inspired and motivated women of all ages to step out and live their dreams… To stay strong, courageous and beautiful… To achieve success and growth while supporting their families… She is truly the best of both worlds!!