Giving Hope to Animals

It was a dark and stormy night may be the worst cliché to start a novel with, but in pouring rain, Deven Baheti found his life’s calling which led to his tryst with animal rescue work.

During a holiday with his family, on a rainy night at 1 am, he found a little puppy stuck in a drain pipe. She was so tiny she fit in the palm of his hand. Lexie, now 10, is the love of his life, and still has water around her heart due to that night.

Deven, who used to be petrified of animals, says, “Lexie changed my life. She is the reason a lot of animals in the city sleep safely.” Thanks to her, countless others who live on the streets don’t have to go hungry either. He registered his NGO called Deven’s Hope Society almost a decade ago and started rescuing animals since he was 16, just after he rescued Lexie.

Deven, and his wife Sonam, who is also an animal rescuer, feed several street dogs as part of their daily routine. When he started rescue work, Deven used to hide puppies and kittens in his room. “Then slowly, I took up space in the garage attached to my home and converted it so that it could host six to seven animals easily. After a few years, I built a proper shelter.” The shelter is in Aziz Nagar, spread over almost an acre and full of trees, with trampolines and other garden toys for the dogs to play with.

When someone abandons a pregnant beagle by tying her to the gate of his home, or other rescuers frantically tag him on social media about an abandoned or injured old dog, his NGO lives up to its name, and gives the animal hope to live. He adds, “It is a home for second chances; a happy home as I’d like to call it.” The place has eight big rooms and he plans to have separate sections for blind and paralyzed dogs, and one for cows and donkeys too. Dogs who are severely ill or have infectious ailments are kept in isolation. The rest are allowed to run free; and they have their own rooms to sleep in at night.

How is the shelter funded? Sonam reveals, “Our Pet Café is the chief source of funds for the shelter. The bungalow in Banjara Hills housing the café also doubles up as a boarding for pets. For a fee, you can leave your pet with us when you travel and we, along with our equally dedicated staff, ensure your pet’s routine is not disrupted. It is mostly selffunded, though donations under 80G are accepted.”

Rescuers can also surrender an animal they believe needs to be off the streets for the rest of its life. There is however, a one-time fee involved in animals sent to the shelter by other rescuers. The fee is decided on a per case basis.

How do they decided which dog or cat to take in? Deven says, “To surrender an animal, there are no fixed criteria. I believe in the quality living of an animal – we have over 40 residents with us –blind, paralyzed, deaf and some with neurological issues. If the dog cannot live on its own on the streets – that is enough for us to take an informed decision.”

Rescuing animals on a daily basis takes true dedication. But when you think of the lives saved, it seems worth it. n MINAL

Tel: 8297585352 (Phonepe)

(To call for surrendering an animal or to donate to Deven’s Hope Society)

For more details, check out @ devenshopesociety

From Instagram reels to lead roles in Tollywood, Sakshi Vaidya is an actress on the rise…

Slovenia. That was my first-ever work trip abroad, all on my own, and it felt like a milestone for me!

Your favorite role so far?

That will depend on what my audiences think of my roles. Having said that, I can’t wait for everyone to see Ira from Gandeevadhari Arjuna!

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

As an actor, I’ve learned to keep my moods and emotions at home and come to work without that baggage.

Which are the other movies in the pipeline?

Currently, I have Gandeevadhari Arjuna, and my next one will be with Sai Dharam Tej.

Any plans to get into OTT?

OTT has opened so many doors of opportunity for actors; and audiences also have a wide menu to choose from, making this field more diverse, creative, and competitive at the same time. I would love to do OTT, but no offers for now. n AJULI

Quick Take

Dream Role

Priyanka Chopra’s role from Bajirao Mastani, Kangana from Queen, and Sai Pallavi from Shyam Singha Roy

A secret about you

I am very scared of needles

Sakshi Vaidya, the new star of Tollywood, seen alongside Akhil Akkineni in Agent, has carved a path to success through captivating Instagram videos. In an exclusive interview with WOW! the actor offers glimpses into her life and career. Here are some excerpts from the candid conversation

How did Tollywood happen?

I used to love making short videos on my Instagram page back in 2020. With colleges closed, I kept myself busy by creating content. A few friends suggested I should enrol for acting classes and give auditions. Since lockdown restrictions were in place everywhere, casting agencies were accepting self-tests. I secretly auditioned for various roles throughout 2020. One afternoon, I received a call from a casting director in Mumbai, offering me a role in Agent and that’s how I landed here.

What would you say is your goal as an actor?

To keep it realistic, genuine, and make my character as convincing as possible. I am still learning, and I want people to connect with my character.

What was it like working with Akhil Akkineni?

Akhil is a very inspiring co-star. His hard work to make Agent happen was visible, and I was in awe of his passion for his profession.

Any interesting experiences you had while shooting?

I remember shooting for the songs Malli Malli and Endhe in Budapest and

If not an actress, you’d be A physiotherapist

Your favorite holiday destination

Bali

The best thing about Hyderabad

Shawarmas

You have a crush on Dwayne Johnson

Actors you would like to swap roles with Keerthy Suresh and Sai Pallavi, admiring their script choices

Gautam Pemmaraju is a Mumbai-based writer, researcher and filmmaker, working on history, literature and art. WOW! catches him at the screening of his independent feature documentary A Tongue Untied: The Story of Dakhani, on the vernacular satire and humorous poetry of the Deccan at DHI Art Gallery

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