A fan helped unearth a memory from the deepest recesses of my mind; a memory that now seems like from another lifetime altogether. It comes from a time when choreographer Ganesh Hegde landed up on the sets of Indian Idol 3 as a guest. Those were heady days for me as a contestant who was taking a big risk by switching professions. I nervously confessed to him that I could sing but not dance for nuts, and he encouraged me to just have fun with the "bulb-fixing" & the "tap-closing" steps he proceeded to teach me. That done, I never remotely thought about dancing again. Not until 4 years later, when I was offered to participate in one of the biggest celebrity dance shows on Indian television; Jhalak Dikkhlaa Jaa.
Here I was again, in flashback mode & thinking "All right. Let's just have some fun. No harm in that." But before I had time to gather my bearings, the fun turned into initial disappointments and subsequently into a friendly, yet cut-throat competition. People were getting eliminated even before we'd had time to know each other. To make things worse, I still couldn't dance! But that's when the trust, belief & innovations of my choreographers Marischa & Deepak re-infused life AND the fun-factor into my preparations. No longer did I care about eliminations or points. My only aim was to do justice to what I was being taught. In a few quick weeks, appreciation began to pour in & so did the expectations, work-load & near-nervous breakdowns. Often, it became difficult to tell night from day as we lost count of the number of hours we'd put in practice. Reason often gave way to rage & frustration when things weren't going our way. We celebrated every moral victory and with every setback, we went back to the drawing board
Improvement. Growth. Upward graph. Dark horse. The underdogs. These were terms being used to describe us. And boy, did Marischa really want to win this one!!! Having been part of two earlier seasons, she was in no mood to be content with a runner-up spot this time round. In hindsight, I realize that apart from the lessons learnt from initial setbacks, it was also her hitherto unrequited dream that egged me on to reach for the stars. That's the beauty of team-work, isn't it? You forget everything else, embrace each other & learn to fly!
I remember mentioning in one of my interviews that "in the end, it will boil down to who handles the stress best" and indeed, only the strong-willed improved & survived. Otherwise, what chance did a complete non-dancer like me have against seasoned performers like Yana, Krishna, Ankita & Sushant? I absolutely loved most of their performances & it inspired me to do better. Everyone, from the Judges, co-contestants, choreographers, stylists, reality team, production & post-production team, sound engineers, in-studio staff & many others who I might have forgotten to mention here, were a dream to work with. The amicable atmosphere & the constant encouragement by well-wishers gave me ample opportunity to prove myself and made the sweat & blood seem worth it. Yes, sweat & blood, considering the months of preparation & the numerous injuries incurred.
In the finale, the three finalists who took the stage were broken warriors; down but definitely not out, each with their own motivation & goals. What transpired thereon is common knowledge. Whether the world agrees or disagrees with the end of the story, it remains a thoroughly cherished one. Since the curtains fell on Jhalak Dikhla Jaa Season 4, all of us have moved on with our lives. Deepak is currently teaching the contestants on India's Got Talent & Marischa is conducting dancing workshops in various Indian cities. We still carry fond memories of the time spent together & the profound experiences shared and continue to be good friends.
I don't really believe in horoscopes. But call it co-incidence or otherwise, there are times when your horoscope reads eerily close to what you're going through in real life. We dismiss them as just another way to fill up newspaper columns & our imaginations but yet some of them strike too close to be just that. For example, I was shooting for a horror reality show a year ago which was undoubtedly the most physically & mentally draining experience I've had so far in my life; what with shooting in remote & far-flung locations at the peak of an Indian summer and the lack of the basest of amenities. Add to that, gastropathy & a gargantuan pile of official work back home was eating into my peace of mind. So imagine my surprise when I came across this in my daily horoscope:
"Slow down before you burn out."
Fortunately or unfortunately, my career is on a fast-track that does not give me the liberty to slow down. The show came to an end soon after & I had some time to recover. However, the timing of the horoscope was uncanny & not just a one-off incident. I'm sure you too have had similar experiences to vouch for the verity of daily horoscopes. Too many of them hit bullseye too often to be mere co-incidences. But then again, wouldn't believing in horoscopes be equivalent to being superstitious? Or is there a definite science behind their perceived accuracy? I guess there's really no answer for that.
"I don't believe in superstitions since they bring bad luck."
While shooting for the same show in a remote corner of Goa, Arjumand (the script writer & a dear friend) and I decided to take a walk on the beach. As the sun slowly melted into the sea & our feet sank into the not-so-clean yet soothing sand, we lost ourselves in a conversation about life, our dreams, ambitions, friends, troubles and so on. A lot was said but the most important sentence spoken in that enveloping darkness was:
"Life is about the little things, and not always about riches & career. For one, life is about being able to walk on the sand, unfettered, without a care in the world. We just don't realize it until it's too late"
Food for thought...