Exposition : Kamlesh Patel
Hey Stubborn Army! We are back once again, Oh Wait!!!!!, You have read this line enough times. Let’s start fresh today because the one we are featuring today is the one who brought a whole new horizon to the dancing world. We are talking about the first Indian dancer on two hands Mr. Kamlesh Patel.
At the tender age of 5, due to a mishappening he lost both of his legs. A small kid watching children of his age running and playing and not being able to play himself; you can understand what emotional trauma he was facing.
Kamlesh Patel just wasn’t ready to give up. He never let the negatives rule his life and found the silver lining in the dark cloud. Today he is an inspiration to billions.
His talent is shinier than diamonds , his art prettier than Picasso and his stubbornness harder than that of mountains.
Come let’s live the journey of one of the most inspiring dancer of India with his own own words.
A Kid With No Future
Kamlesh Patel was born in the small town of Padra near Vadodara, Gujarat. Kamlesh Patel come from a not very well to do family. He had a childhood in the rural scenarios, The village gave the humbleness and groundedness, Kamlesh Patel have today.
When Kamlesh Patel was 5 , Kamlesh Patel was taken to a hospital for a simple fever. The doctor said Kamlesh Patel would need an injection. No one knew that this injection was going to flip Kamlesh Patel world upside down. The doctor injected Kamlesh Patel in a wrong vein.
Kamlesh Patel was not able to move my legs. Also Kamlesh Patel parents took to the best hospitals they could, but neither the finances nor the technology was good enough to give me my feet back. He was paralyzed down my waist.
Kamlesh Patel parents would cry, that it was their fault. Kamlesh Patel used to motivate them saying “Fate did what had to.
Our society looks at people with disabilities with eyes of sympathy and despair. Kamlesh Patel was told a thousand times that ‘He is going to have no future, ‘Kamlesh Patel can’t do anything in my life.’ Now Kamlesh Patel had two ways to take it. One, be demotivated by the so-called society and always live hating my life. Second was to take this as a challenge and prove them wrong and show them what a disabled person can do.
I chose the challenge, because I wanted to show them that I am not disabled, I am just differently abled. Every breath I took had only one purpose, To change the way the society looked at us.
Dance : The Roar to the World
The wheel of time started revolving and I started to grow more and more positive. I learned to live my life with the positives. I never let my disability dictate the tone of my life. Also I always tried to turn my shortcomings into strengths.
I was good in academics and the fuel that kept me going were the taunts from the society. Also I was always able to give my 100% because of this motivation, I came to 9th standard, with a laudable academic record.
As a kid I used to see dance shown on T.V. and always wanted to dance but the question was “ How would I ? ” because Dance is an art that is difficult for even people with two feet then how would I manage. When I became a bit mature, I thought if I will be able to do something that even so-called ‘normal’ can’t, that would give answers to society’s every question.
I came to know about ‘Thappa Dance Classes’ from a friend. It was in Vadodara, almost 15 Kms away from my house. One day I just took my tricycle and started to pedal and went straight to the dance classes.
Taking The Challenges : Kamlesh Patel
After a tiring journey of 15 Kms with pedaling only with hands, I came to a building with 4 floors. The classes were on the 4 th floor and there was no lift in the building. Climbing the stairs was a challenge but who has ever achieved something without taking challenges.
I somehow reached the classes. Thappa Sir who ran the academy, was a real gem of a person. He allowed me to come to his classes to practice and even exempted me from the fees.
I embarked on a completely new journey, I used to study in the school till 5 in the evening. Then take the tricycle for 15 kms then reach the academy at 7 – 7:30, then practice the dance steps, dancing in a corner and then again take the tricycle back home. Also I came back home at 10-10:30 in the night.
I didn’t tell my parents that I was learning dance, I used to tell them that I was going for a computer class. On the other at the dance academy, I used to practice in a corner watching all the kids, I had become a keen learner like the ‘Eklavya’
This went on for a few months. There came days when my hands used to ache so hard because of cycling then dancing and cycling back again. I even used to question myself “Why am I doing this?” Then all the questions, the giggles and the tag of ‘disabled’ would come in front of my eyes. It gave me the exact reason for “Why am I doing this? ”
Differently Abled Not Disabled : Kamlesh Patel
I kept grinding myself, so that my art can express to the world what I wanted to say. One day when I was practicing in the academy , a person came to the academy. Also He wanted dance groups for a show, he was going to organise. He saw me practicing and asked my instructor to bring me to the show too.
When sir told me about the show, I was excited and nervous too. I had choreographed a song for myself in these months, I had no costume, so I somehow mended my T-shirt in some furry outfit and wore a black jeans to the show.
When I went on the stage, people were shocked but when I performed they were just flabbergasted. Everyone left their seats to give me a standing ovation. I had tears in my eyes, I felt that the hours and hours of hard work that I had put in just bore fruit.
After this show my parents also got to know about my dance and they were also happy, because their kid was being appreciated by everyone.
Now I had got an acceptance but now It was time to turn this acceptance into expectation that whenever Kamlesh will come on stage he will bring something new with him.
I started to go deeper and deeper into the dance styles. Also I learnt forms like bollywood, jazz, hip-hop, break dance and many more. Then I customized them into my style because I can only move my hands, so I have to make such movements that can reflect both hand and leg movements at the same time.
Its All About Grabbing The Opportunities : Kamlesh Patel
I continued my journey in dance, people started inviting me for shows through which I just bore my expenses. I took every opportunity to show the world that ‘We are not disabled, we are just differently abled.’
2005, Grandmaster Saroj Khan was coming to judge a competition in Vadodara. Even I wanted to take part in the competition but when I went to fill a form, they denied to let me participate. They said “The competition was only for normal dancers.” The sentence just fired me up.
Just the day before the competition, in the press conference, one of the boys from the organizers team asked Saroj Mam that “Should they allow a disabled dancer to participate.” Saroj Mam replied “If he has dancing talent, then he should be given a chance.”
I was informed that I can participate in the competition, I had a walkman at home, I played the song on it and practiced almost all night. On the next day, I was very nervous. When the performance started, I forgot everything and just lived the moment.
When I finished, Saroj Mam was standing on her seat with tears in her eyes. She went short of words, She gave me a hundred rupee note, that became one of the most important souvenirs of my life and whenever I feel low I just gaze at the note and I am elated again.
During this time, I met a friend who later became more than a brother. He used to drive the dairy truck from Padra to Vadodara. Whenever he saw me on the road, he always gave me a lift to Vadodara. Gradually we became very good friends .
DID : “Taqdeer ki Topi”
I went on growing in the dance industry. Also I did shows at various places in and around Gujarat. I was fortunate that I got an audience of my own. Even I was appreciated by many. I went more towards classical and folk dance, so that I can popularise these dance forms too, I was struggling and hustling around till 2009.
One day I got a call from a friend in Mumbai. He said “There is a show coming on ZEE T.V. named DID. They want folk dancers for a promo shoot for Gujarat. Can you arrange a dance group? ”
I knew a few dance academies, so I said ‘Yes, I can. ’ The day came, there were DID auditions in Ahmedabad. I brought the group, the promo shoot went well. After the show kids asked me “Can we give an audition too.” I didn’t refuse. Then one of them said “Sir, You should also give an audition.” I said “No, I have a show in Siroi, Rajasthan, Also I have to catch a bus.”
Then I thought, I will catch a later bus. I went for the audition, Even I had props with me because I was leaving for a show. Even I gave the audition, I cleared 3 rounds back to back.
Then they told me that tomorrow, there will be a Mega audition. In which you will be judged by Remo Sir, Terrance Sir and Geeta Maa. I wanted to leave for the show, so I told them that I will not give the mega auditions.
One Should Be Ready To Accept Failures : Kamlesh Patel
The DID team insisted so I canceled the show. I was very nervous to perform in front of three celebrity judges but I then thought “Why should I fear ? The most that can happen is that I won’t get selected, That’s all”
With this attitude, I went to the stage. I performed well and got a standing ovation from the judges. They gave me the ticket to the Mumbai auditions. It was a new challenge to go to Mumbai and face off against the best dancers from India.
In Mumbai Auditions, we were given a task to dance in groups of five. There were 100 people and only 18 were going to be selected. They asked me if I wanted to dance alone rather than dancing in a group but I said “I don;t want any special treatment, I just want a fair shot. If I have the talent I will be selected”
We had to choreograph a dance with multiple forms and the other four people had to coordinate with me while dancing. It was a challenge but we came ove it and 3 of us were selected.
Life Gives Us Many Turning Point : Kamlesh Patel
After getting in Top 18, the first episode came and I saw ‘The Disco Dancer’ Mithoon Da live for the first time. I went on stage to perform, had a special dance in which I balanced rotating discs while dancing.
When Mithoon Da saw it, he said a sentence that changed my life forever. He said “Your level is even higher than this competition. You deserve to be a judge”
Then I was given an opportunity to sit next to Mithoon Da as a grandmaster. I got a chance to judge 17 other contestants.
After DID, My life completely flipped around. In the show a “Taqdeer ki Topi ” is given to the selected contestants. I became a known name in the 132 countries where the show aired.
I was invited for foreign shows.I was recognised everywhere. I was shocked when I went to Trinidad and Tobago and people recognised me. My hard work for years and years, now started getting me the due fame and wherever I did shows I drove the message that, “Don’t treat us specially just treat as you treat others.”
In 2011, I was given a chance to judge a dance competition named “Gujarat Dance Championship ” alongside Saroj Khan Mam. When we met on stage, I touched her feet and asked her if she remembered me. She told me that she saw my performances in DID.
The cherry on the top of the cake was that the contestants, whom we judged were none other than those who denied me to take part in the competition some years earlier.
This made me realise that , Yes I had come a long way but a lot of it is still left.
My art, My expression : Kamlesh Patel
After DID, I did get a lot of recognition but I never let it come to my head. Rather take it as a responsibility that now millions of people are looking up to me and I have to present a good example to them.
I never wanted to get married because I have problems and the one who marries me will have to suffer with them too. Also I didn’t want to ruin a girl’s life. In 2010, I met a girl who accepted me with every shortcoming I had.
She made me believe that I can be a good life partner too. Even She had to stand against her family to marry me, She is such a strong woman that even after facing resistance from her family she stood strongly by my side.
Eventually we got married and today we have a little one of our own. A cute little daughter. She is seven years old, She has brought a charm to my life.
I have been continuously doing shows since 2009. Everyday I try to learn something new and present it to the audience. Also I opened an academy in my home town so that the kids like me can get the best dance training close to their house.
I have also seen that many differently abled dancers and other artists have come forward. Whenever I meet them and they tell me how I was the inspiration for them to start. I feel that my purpose of coming to earth has somewhat been accomplished.
All in all the boy whom the society tagged as ‘A boy with no future’ has made a fortune and is not going to stop any soon.
The next step
I have been on a journey to inspire those who are differently abled like me and to change society’s outlook towards us. The next step towards this , is a movie. I want that a movie should be made on my journey and the title is going to be “Yes! I can dance.”
Also I have set up an NGO name ‘Kamlesh Patel Health Care Foundation’ that works for the needy. We try to be ‘nimit.’ Through the donations we get, we have tried to help those who were deeply affected by the Covid situation, especially those who are in the entertainment industry.
Simply, I can say “We have just walked a few steps, the whole sky is still left to fly.”
A word from me
I just want to the youth of our country that “Don’t lose all your hopes over small problems, look at people who are living with their shortcomings and converting them into strengths”
Just keep working hard, your talent is like a flowing river, no one can stop you from succeeding.
So guys this was the inspiring tale of the first Indian dancer on hands. His journey has fueled other people like him to achieve more and more.
We should take the message he has given at every moment in his life that “Don’t treat the differently abled specially, just treat them as you treat others. ”
Also We will be back with another inspiring tale next week till than.
Stay Passionate, Stay Stubborn