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Shantanu Maheshwari never stops moving

By Armin S. Sunday, Nov 05, 2017 12:40: AM

Shantanu Maheshwari doesn’t stop moving. And it’s inspiring.

We become fans of people because of their work. Some of us become fans because of the sheer hard work and dedication we start seeing within their work. For me, it’s a bit of both when it comes to Shantanu Maheshwari. When we spoke to him last time, it was towards the tail end of a dance reality show in which he was a finalist and even then, there was a promise of much more to come, not just with him, but his dance crew, Desi Hoppers.

This time I talked to him after some time had passed from his Khatron Ke Khiladi 8 victory. So naturally, we talked a lot about that reality show but I wanted to pose different questions to him – well, that was what I said to him at the beginning of our telephone call anyway.

I started off by asking him a bit about his family because those who follow him know that he is quite close to his parents and his brother. So I wondered what their initial reaction was when Shantanu decided to do a show like Khatron Ke Khiladi – “actually, when I go for a show, or am trying something, or even go for an audition, I don’t inform my parents actually. When there were rumours spreading that I was doing Khatron Ke Khiladi on every news platform, my parents asked me if I was doing it, I said I might be doing it. They were like “okay” (chuckles). They asked if I thought I could do it, and I said well, let me try. My mom was a bit concerned I think but my dad and my brother were more neutral. They knew that it was a good opportunity for me. And we used to watch the show together.”

He had never done anything like KKK8, I say. He says because he was always into dancing, he had not really done adventurous stuff because injuries would stop him from dancing. He chuckles as he talks about the confidence his family had in his dancing as a career, more confidence than he had.

After the completion of a show like Khatron though, especially after winning the show, confidence in one’s abilities must surely be higher so I asked him what his biggest learning lesson was since the show completed, both on a personal and professional level. He thinks for a moment and says, “you don’t always have to be prepared for everything that you do in life. Sometimes, if you don’t know anything, the belief in yourself will help you. This thought comes from the fact that I did certain stunts that I never imagined myself doing. I have never done underwater things, I have never dived into a pool. Me doing those stunts made me feel like we don’t push ourselves enough, we underestimate ourselves. Coming from the same thought, nothing is impossible – if you think you can, you can do it.”

“Professionally, I met very amazing people. Rohit Shetty himself, I found out so much about his career – that he has been working for twenty seven years of his life. He has done all kinds of stunts but he is still humble and sporting, which he doesn’t need to do or be. He makes some of the biggest films each year. He was so genuine. He was not fake. He appreciates only talent.”

I remember seeing Ravi Dubey and Karan Wahi speaking about how Shantanu inspired them but was there a time when he was inspired by his co-contestants? He, again, takes a moment to think and mentions Nia Sharma. “Nia inspired me a lot. She being the way she is. The way she talks, the way she is in general. When she performed stunts, she was a totally different person. That was some kind of high, some kind of madness. What you are before the stunt starts and once the stunt begins, it was like two different people – that really impressed me a lot. Obviously, Ravi bhai’s calmness is something I really looked up to. Even off camera, when we used to talk, he is just such an intelligent guy. Karan bhai is very sweet, he looks very tough but he is very sweet. And actually, Monica, when she got eliminated and when she came back, it was like she was a different person. Her focus shifted – the way she looked at things shifted. We used to talk a lot and I knew where she was coming from. They all come from a different background so they inspired me.”

Now, the fun part – because the Desi Hoppers, his crew, is doing so much, in terms of workshops, “Bollyfit”, and their new worldwide takeover once again – I had to ask him who he would assign his own stunts to. He had the pick of anybody from his crew, former Dil Dosti Dance  cast mates and friends as well – here goes.

The stunt where Shantanu was picking up the apples from the snake tank – “I think I’ll send Sam into it. I think it will be fun to watch her perform (chuckles).”

What about the rotating panels at height where he had to jump for the flags – He thinks for a few moments, and says, “Rohan, one of our crew mates from Desi Hoppers, he’s very scared of heights. Matlab (meaning), if I ask him to stand on my shoulders and look down, he will be scared. He’s scared to that level. I think it will be a fun and a laughter ride when he performs that stunt. And he will be pushing himself.” (chuckles).

The chicken stunt – after a few moments of thinking, he realizes he doesn’t want anyone to perform that stunt. He says that kind of stunt is one that you wouldn ‘t even give to your enemy. “I’ll perform it myself,” he ends up saying.

The stunt where you are being dragged by the car – “That’ll be…Vrushika…maybe. Just for fun. It’ll be a challenging stunt for her because she is very light. It’s a fun stunt.”

The snake stunt with Rithvik – and you have to pick a partner – “Okay…for that I’ll say, Nimit will be lying down and I will pick up the snakes. Actually, I have a choice of not performing the stunt as well. So, Nimit lying down, and Mace has to pick up the snakes with his mouth (laughs).”

At this point, I realize that Shantanu’s primary motivation of assigning the stunts is what would be fun to watch for him and I call him out on that. He laughs and we keep rolling.

The bridge-building stunt at height – “I think Jack would be good at the stunt and he would complete it. If not Jack, then Rohan because he is afraid of heights (laughs) – that would be a good visual.”

Relay race with the bear at the end of the show – “I think I would give it to Palki Ma’am. She loves animals. She’d be good. I’m sure about one thing, if she did that stunt, she would be very close to my timing. I think so.”

The finale stunt with the water and the car – “I don’t know who to give the stunt to. Alisha…Alisha can do the stunt. She can try that. Alisha and Mace. Mace, the visual will be great – when the rope thing drops – that visual will be fun. I sound mean but we need good visuals to watch.”

I suggest that the way he is imagining these stunts, he should just set them up and video these stunts. Both of us laugh and get down to some serious business again. Because we’ve just finished visualizing the various Desi Hopper crew members performing the KKK8 stunts, I ask him about the different strengths each dancer brings to the crew and whether the team members are able to shed their own identities when they perform together or should retention of their individual style still be evident in the team. He says, “it is just nice to have different identities in a crew because you get a lot of different varieties in your choreography, that you can incorporate into your choreography. At the same time, it is nice to have Mace’s style in Hip Hop, Nimit is very good with krumping, my style is Bollywood…Sometimes, when everyone has the same style of dancing, it is hard to come up with different elements in your choreography. But we also have a good understanding within the crew – like when to use which element in the choreography. Palki ma’am comes in and guides us at that point, and that is very important to our choreography.”

That versatility and teamwork is evident when we see the new videos and choreography pop up on our social media feeds. Desi Hoppers is thriving and so is Shantanu Maheshwari, both as an artist himself, a dancer himself, and a dancer with his crew, the Desi Hoppers. As the crew continues to churn out good dancing after good dancing, Shantanu will also continue to churn out projects because, according to me, he just doesn’t stop moving, in life, on stage, and on the floor. And that’s inspiring.



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