The Kulkarnis, stand out wherever they go, as they are the country’s tallest family. They are now hoping to set a new world record with their combined height. Sharad Kulkarni (52), stands at 7ft 1.5-inch tall and his wife Sanjot (46), is 6ft 2.6-inches tall. Their daughters Mruga (22), and Sanya (16), are 6ft 1inch and 6ft 4inches respectively. The family’s combined height is a staggering 26ft.
The couple was crowned India’s tallest couple by Limca Book of Records after they married in 1989. They had hoped to be named the world’s tallest couple by the Guinness Book of Records, until it emerged that Wayne and Laurie Hallquist, from Stockton, California, stand a combined inch taller at 13ft 4 inches.
“We were a little disheartened. It’s nice to have recognition when you live your life being so different. It ends up meaning something. But we’re excited about new prospects,” Sharad said. Growing up, Kulkarnis faced years of teasing and ridicule. When Kulkarni hit 7ft as a teenager, he ploughed his energies into sports and ended up playing basketball for his country, but Sanjot struggled to go unrecognised and fit in the remote Indian village where she lived.
The pair began to accept early on in their teens that marriage one day might be difficult. “It’s hard for a woman to be taller than a man in India. The man has the more authoritative role so I would never want to marry a smaller man and then be ridiculed about his wife,” Sanjot said.
“It was a big possibility that I’d never marry really,” she said. But Sanjot’s grandmother spotted Kulkarni walking down a street in Mumbai one evening and approached him. A few weeks later Kulkarni’s parents called the number and a meeting was arranged for the potential couple. The couple married in December 1988. Now, along with their two grown-up daughters Mruga and Sanya, they hope to have the chance to be the world’s tallest family.
“I’m so excited. We love being tall. So many people would love to be taller. I hear girls moan every day about their short height but we’re so happy and content,” Mruga said. Both Mruga and Sanya want to be models and hope that their height could give them a huge advantage in the industry. Guinness Book of Records does not currently have a tallest family category but would consider it. “We do monitor this category so we’d like to know of any family that could potentially set this record and we’d then advise them,” Spokesman Anne-Lise Rouse said.
Leading a customised life
The Kulkarnis have wardrobes full of custom-made clothes and shoes. Shopping on the high street is impossible. Their shoe sizes range from 8 to 12 and they often order their footwear online from Europe. Their house has been adapted to meet their needs — they had to change all the door frames from 6ft to 8ft high. They have customised their furniture including beds, wardrobes, kitchen shelves, and even the height of the toilet. But they never use public transport, preferring to travel on scooters. When flying is necessary, they ask for a front seat or emergency exit row.