Raghav Juyal: Dancing, Hosting, and Acting - wearing different hats and conquering them all

“I feel that I started...Whenever I'm on stage or I’m anchoring, or I’m hosting, I’m just being myself. That's what I am at the moment. That's why I think people like me and I think I started from dancing. So yes, I started my journey from dancing and I am acting in films now.” With so much going on with Raghav Juyal, who famously put slow-motion dancing on the map for me, we had to sit down to chat with him, as he has so much on the go, including his upcoming films Street Dancer and Bahut Hua Sammaan. 

A: Raghav, you have your plate full. Where does the sense of confidence come from? You know, people who dance, generally obviously have a different spirit that comes out when they dance. They are able to express themselves quite fully. You're one of those dancers who has taken the way you express in dance and you have really liberated yourself and the audience in the way in which you host, in the way in which you act. Again, as I said, you are very free-flowing. Where does that sense of confidence come from?

R: Actually, it's not about confidence, it's about honesty. Even if I’m not confident and I'm nervous, I'll just show it. I’m vulnerable, and I’m open to it. So it's about honesty. It's not about confidence. Sometimes you're not confident. Sometimes I feel that I'm not confident today and I am nervous. So I just shed the act and I show it fully. I don't suppress it. I acknowledge it and I show it. I think artists should be very open with their feelings and emotions. So even when I’m not confident actually, I show my nervousness. I tell people, I'm nervous today guys. I'm nervous. I’m feeling nervous. I tell that to myself. I'm open to that. That's why I think this is what works. Being an actor, or a dancer or a painter.

A: You know Raghav, one of the greatest things about the dance community in India and abroad as well, is the sense of unity. There has always been a sense of unity I find, at least as a viewer. I find that a lot when I watch shows. You have been on Dance Plus as well. Where does that sense of unity come from in the dance community?

R: I think it's because of the friendship and I think dancers are very physical with each other. Because they are dancers, they have to do body movements. The dancing community has unity, in India. I think it is friendship. I don't know how to describe it. We are united because of friendship I think.

A: I watch a lot of reality television that comes from India. I watch a lot of the dance shows. You know, about a decade ago, there was Dance India Dance and one other TV show, Javed Jaffrey’s show (Boogie Woogie). That was really the maximum amount of exposure we got to reality television and dance. But today, every second channel has a dance reality show and a competition. Do you find that it is a good platform? Do you find that in some sense, the quality of what we’re watching is diminishing because of the fact that every second television channel does have a dance reality show now. What’s your opinion?

R: Yeah, I think it's happening a lot! To be honest. I feel that too and especially the fame aspect of it. These little children become famous and after that, their parents push them to go and become more famous and a lot of times, they lose their childhood. I feel that this is happening. I feel it's happening to the children a lot. But I don't know, people are watching and the TRPs are going great and they're watching. I know it is happening a lot. Too many of the shows are going on. Especially the parents. They are cashing it out through their children. They're making them go for more and more shoots, then they are becoming famous. And you know, it is taking away their childhood I feel sometimes. 

Like for us, in our time, we used to be in the schools. We used to prepare for “Children's Day” and there we used to dance. Now, they're just cashing out on these small children. The children go, they dance, then they go for another show, another shoot. Sometimes I feel that for some people it is an exposure, they're getting opportunities, different platforms. I see both sides of the coin. Like a lot of choreographers are getting employed because of this. A lot of people are getting employed because of these shows so yeah, there is another side to it as well. 

A: I hear that you go back to your home city, Dehradhun quite often? And somebody, I think Remo sir, described you as you know, sort of a free spirit. You pick up your bags and just go when you want to. Is that sustainable? How do you sustain that sense of normalcy in your life? You are celebrated as a dancer so how do you pick up and just go wherever you want to? Where does that come from?

R: I just go, I don't know where it comes from. I don't know, I just pick up and go. I don't think much. I need to travel. I love travelling. I love to meet new people. Trying new cuisines, food. I travel local. I go for trekking and camping and summits. I don't know. That is my lifestyle. Then I come back and I work too. You have to give time to yourself. Being in the film industry and acting is a part of life. It is not life. It is a part of life. Sometimes people make their work and everything their life. But it is not life actually. It is just a part of life. So I believe that you have to live fully. I love travelling and I do that because I love it and yes, I go back to my friends. I go back to my hometown and sometimes I go back to my village in Uttarakhand and I stay there and I be there. I love it! We have to take time out for the things we love.

A: You know Raghav, when you are having a tough day, you said that you are able to be honest and artists should be honest but when you're having a tough day, and you have to get in front of the camera, you have to crack jokes, you have to be supportive of certain artists. Let's say that you are anchoring a show or something of that sort. How are you able to put on that face? Because you know, that's what I find is tough for dancers or actors or people who are in the industry. Because sometimes you guys are going through terrible days. And you have to go in front of the camera and put on a brave face and act as though everything is normal. So how do you do that? How do you deal with that? And are there any repercussions in your personal life?

R: Today I am having a tough day, physically. Sometimes you have your low days. You feel low. But then I think, emotions are like the weather. It changes. It goes to a peak and you acknowledge it. You don't suppress it and then it changes to something else. Like right now i'm excited. In some time I will be anxious. It keeps changing.

A: What about your upcoming acting projects?

R: I’m happy to work in Bahut Hua Sammaan with Sanjay Mishra, Ram Kapoor and I am learning a lot. In terms of Street Dancer, it is like family always; we enjoy a lot so it feels like family is getting together. I have worked in films before, but I always felt I was lacking the crat, so I have two years in acting training and I gave auditions and I cracked Bahut Hua Sammaan – and I feel happy doing a fully content-based film. Also, working with Sanjay Mishra has been a delight – I call Sanjay Mishra my Guruji – we have a very beautiful bond of teacher-student and joked around a lot on set.

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Armin Sethi

Bollywood Film Fame Canada has been a source of original content consisting of real conversations, reviews, and news of everything film, music, and entertainment for 15 years.

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