For years now legendary dancer Astad Deboo has been organising exhilarating dance performances with deaf children. This time around he has worked with street kids of the Salaam Balak trust on a project called Breaking Boundaries.
Talking about his experience of working with these kids, Astad says, “I am an extreme task master and tend to get a little impatient during rehearsals. So, with me, they have to grasp things really fast. When I work on a project it has to be of a certain standard and these kids had no training in dance whatsoever.
They just knew the Bollywood latka jhatkas,” he smiles. “But not even once did they shirk or resist hard work. They were very willing to learn. And literally grabbed the opportunity that came their way,” he adds.
Drawing a comparison between these kids and those of children from more fortunate households, Astad continues, “Once a very close friend of mine asked me to take a workshop with these super-rich brats and they were just like ‘ahh, ohh’. It was a sort of a workshop where the parents were more excited than the kids. I declared a break and out came the cookies and the pizzas. The kids from Salaam Balak only had water in their break time."
In the grand rehearsals of the show, 250 children from the Salaam Balak trust in Mumbai will be watching their colleagues perform on this masterpiece. “I have always told the kids who are performing with me that they are role models for their friends in a way. They can show people that anything can be achieved, but you need to work hard.”
From here, moving on to Astad's Bollywood projects, he confirms that he has choreographed a chase seen between Sita and Ravana for Mani Ratnam's movie Raavan. “It was great working with Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai. This was the first time I have ever shot outdoors and all I can say is that all the stars on the sets made me feel like a star.”