What does success mean to you?
Success is finding your true calling and using its power to help others. If you’re happy doing what you love, that is true success.
Who is the most unforgettable person you have met and why?
Meeting Mrs Khorshed Bhavnagri was a life-changing experience, because it is through her book The Laws of the Spirit World that I realized my mission to empower people through dance and the performing arts.
Do you have any role models or people you look up to?
My parents have been my biggest inspiration. Being educationists, they allowed me to pursue my passion after I completed my graduation. They’ve made me realize that with faith and perseverance, you can overcome any hurdle.
How do you deal with failure?
Failures for me are lessons. They’re actually very important for you to learn and also to appreciate success when it comes. With life’s ups and downs, you become wiser and stronger, and with prayers you find the strength within.
If you were not a choreographer, what would you be doing?
The performing arts are all I know, so I’d either be singing or acting.
How can one make art more marketable?
You need to be honest to yourself and be the best at the art form that you pursue. Appreciation and interest will come on its own. People like to see and do things that are new and original. You wouldn’t then need to go out of your way to make things happen. I believe that word of mouth is the most powerful medium.
If you could turn back the clock, what would you change?
I like to live in the present. I look at old videos I choreographed and often think I’d do it completely differently now. But this is only evolution. Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything.
Has money ever been a problem?
I’ve been blessed with parents who taught me to value everything that came to me. So I’ve never made money a priority to ever feel the lack or excess of it.
How would you advise the younger generation?
Don’t find the easy way out. Technology has made access to information easier, but make sure you spend enough time working on your art so you become original. Stay grounded, stay focused and be true to yourself. Most importantly, help others and respect everyone who is a part of your journey.
What would you call a defining moment in your life?
There is no single moment but time and again, I’ve gotten opportunities that have become landmarks of sorts for me; be it meeting Mrs Khorshed Bhavnagri, or professionally deciding to choreograph Dil Toh Pagal Hai, which many consider as a revolution in Bollywood dancing.
What has been you biggest high – personally and professionally?
Winning the National Award for the first ever Bollywood movie I choreographed, and being honoured with a Doctorate from Middlesex University, which was very special as my parents are educationists. This was a validation of the viability of dance as education. Also, seeing the joy on my mother’s face when I met the Queen at Buckingham Palace – this had been her dream always. Performing or choreographing shows for world leaders and entertainers, and giving them an insight into Indian culture and heritage. Starting my non-profit organisation, Victory Arts Foundation, which makes dance accessible to all without discrimination. So for me, professional victories are personal victories.
What has your field of work taught you about life?
That you find contentment only when you follow your passion. That the greatest joy comes from sharing your talent and helping others find themselves through it. That there is no substitute for hard work, and that struggles make you stronger. And, of course, celebrate your uniqueness and your originality.