Smriti Malhotra was born to a Bengali mother, Shibani, and a Punjabi Khatri father, Ajay Kumar Malhotra on March 23, 1976, in Delhi. Smriti was the eldest child among three sisters. To help her family financially she started working after class 10 by promoting beauty products. Her grandfather was associated with RSS. She has been a part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since childhood. She was a student at the Holy Child Auxilium School in New Delhi. She went to the University of Delhi for further studies.
She got attracted by the world of glamour and she decided to break free from the middle-class norms by participating in the Miss India contest in 1998. She came to Mumbai to try her luck on the silver screen. She supported herself financially by working at McDonald’s. On the other side, she gave auditions in the entertainment industry.
· Acting career
Smriti Irani was one of the finalists of the beauty pageant Miss India 1998. In the same year, she appeared in the song “Boliyan” of the album “Saawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag” with Bollywood singer Mika Singh. She made her TV début in 2000 with ‘Aatish’ and ‘Hum Hain Kal Aaj Aur Kal.’ In the same year, she grabbed the lead role of Tulsi Virani in Ekta Kapoor’s TV series Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus. She holds the record of winning five consecutive Indian Television Academy Awards for Best Actress (Popular) and four Indian Telly Awards. Smriti Irani had a fallout with the producer Ekta Kapoor and she left the show in 2007.
In 2001, she played the epic character, Sita in Zee TV’s Ramayan. Smriti Irani co-produced the show ‘Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasmaan’ (2006) under her home production ‘Ugraya Entertainment’ and Balaji Telefilms where she also played the lead role of Uma. She produced the TV serial ‘Virrudh’ (2007) for Sony TV and also portrayed the lead character of Vasudha. She also produced the TV series ‘Mere Apne’ for 9X and portrayed the protagonist alongside Vinod Khanna. She has also acted in a supporting role in Zee TV’s ‘Teen Bahuraniyaan.’
In 2008, Irani along with Sakshi Tanwar hosted a dance – based reality show featuring celebrities along with their troops. In the same year, she also produced another TV series ‘Waaris’ for Zee TV. She played a lead role in a comedy show Maniben.com (2009) for SAB TV which was co-produced by her in collaboration with Contiloe Entertainment. In 2012, she worked in the Bengali movie ‘Amrita.’
· Political career
Smriti Irani became a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2003. She was appointed as the vice-president of the Maharashtra Youth Wing in 2004. She contested unsuccessfully against veteran Congress leader Kapil Sibal from the Chandni Chowk constituency, Delhi in the 2004 general elections. She was nominated as an executive member of the central committee. She voiced her concerns about the safety of women. She also advocated capital punishment for rapists as a deterrent.
In early 2010, Irani was appointed National Secretary of BJP and later she was appointed All India President of the BJP’s women’s wing, BJP Mahila Morcha. In 2011, she was sworn in as a member of parliament to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. She contested the 2014 general elections against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh. She lost to Gandhi by 1,07,923 votes, a 12.32% margin. Despite losing the election, she made multiple visits to Amethi and launched several central development schemes in Amethi constituency, which hadn’t got that kind of attention under its Congress custodians. Congress continued to assume that the Gandhi loyalty factor would continue to work. Smriti Irani stressed how a record number of toilets and houses had been built by the Centre for the poor in Amethi since the Modi government came to power.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed her as the Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) in his cabinet. Her appointment was criticized by many owing to her lack of formal higher education.
Smriti Irani delivered a speech in Parliament where she logically discussed the 2016 JNU sedition controversy and the suicide of Rohith Vemula. She announced to start yoga departments in six new universities in June 2016. In July, the Ministry of Human Resource Development was taken away from Irani, and she was given the Ministry of Textiles, in a cabinet reshuffle. She was handed the additional charge of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India) in 2017 when Former Minister M.Venkaiah Naidu resigned from the Ministry to contest Vice – Presidential Elections.
In 2019 general elections, Smriti Irani recorded a historic win against Rahul Gandhi by a margin of 55,120 votes in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its top leadership put in an all-round effort over the past five years to ensure her win. This is the seat from where Rahul Gandhi has been chosen as a member of Parliament since 2004.
· Personal Life
In 2001, Smriti married Zubin Irani, a Parsi businessman and her childhood friend. The couple has a son Zohr and a daughter Zoish. Smriti is also a stepmother to Shanelle, Zubin Irani’s daughter from his previous marriage.