'I’m waiting for the mentality to change': Dancer-choreographer Karishma Chavan on representing those who don’t fit stereotypes

Dancer-choreographer Karishma Chavan, who has worked on Bollywood's biggest films like Tumhari Sulu and Veere Di Wedding is a breath of fresh air, breaking one stereotype at a time. She made her acting debut with ABCD and ventured into choreography with Dolly Ki Doli.

On International Dance Day 2021 (April 29), Karishma, who is an inspiration to those seeking body positivity, says that she is working towards creating an inclusive environment in showbiz.

Karishma, who recalls her early memories of dancing says that she started off with cultural events that took place in the society she grew up in, including functions at her school.

She says, “I was an enthusiastic kid. My first time was a fancy-dress competition when I was probably 3. I dressed up in a dandiya outfit with a ghagra choli. At 12, I knew that I wanted to be a choreographer after I enrolled in Shiamak Davar’s class. I simply loved the feeling of performing on stage.”

Karishma has been an inspiration to “anybody who wants to dance”. However, she states that her parents were a bit reserved when it came to her choice of profession.

“My parents had apprehensions about me not earning on a monthly salary. But when they saw me determined I had all their support,” says Karishma, who also turned a judge on the reality show Dance Plus.

Speaking about her starstruck moments while being on the job, she adds “I don’t sleep the previous night if I'm working with Shah Rukh Khan Sir or Akshay Kumar Sir.”

Chavan, who faced rejections at the initial state of her career maintains that unfortunately in Bollywood there is a “look requirement for a project which is conventional.”

She says, “I can’t wait to produce my own material to be more inclusive about dancers as it's not only about being on the heavier side. It's also other things that we need to overcome such as complexion height conventionally advertised beauty etc.”

Karishma is among several choreographers who preach body positivity. Many look up to her and are thankful for representing those who don’t fit stereotypes. Citing that it’s high time to move on she says, “I’m waiting for the mentality to change. Only when that happens, is when you will see a good shift in perspective, more opportunities, and acceptance of individuality.”

Furthermore, Karishma says that she has immense love for her haters and body shamers. “I believe they haven't received the right love and encouragement and hence they are bitter. So, I only wish them more love and happiness.”

Despite all the positive affirmations, Chavan states that every few months she feels like giving up. However, the exhaustion comes from dealing with people and not from the job itself.

She says, “It's a blessing if you get to work with good people. I keep myself motivated by keeping my eye on the goal and not is the discouragement, distractions, and disheartening moments.”

Asked who has been her idol when it comes to dancing, Chavan refuses to pick one adding that “all the choreographers from the film industry have been inspirations. It would be unfair to name only a few. But I think all the female choreographers play a special part in keeping me motivated.”

Karishma’s message on International Dance Day: “Don't give up and have a lot of patience. Know that you are special in your own way. And don't hesitate to live your dream.”

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