Dr. Sanjay Shantaram is an eminent dancer/actor/choreographer. He speaks about his journey in this exclusive interview.
In an exclusive interview with us, Dr. Sanjay Shantaram answered the following questions.
- Tell us a little about your childhood, how and when did you develop an interest in dance/acting /singing?
A: My childhood was fun, with adventure playing its full part. I faced the camera for the first time at the age of seven. About the same time, I showed a keen interest in learning Bharatanatyam, after my elder sister decided against learning it. My mother has always encouraged me and helped me hone my talents. Most of my summer holidays were spent in shooting, dancing and travelling.
- Tell us about your dance/acting journey?
A: I got my first break as a child actor, when one of my dad’s patients, Sri
HMK Murthy spotted me in the clinic and cast me in a documentary on family- planning. This was in the year 1980. The movie Shankarabharanam, influenced me to take up acting and also actress Manju Bhargave, who later went on to become my dance guru. My first guru (Teacher) was Smt. Rajyalakshmi, followed by Smt. Narmada. I learnt Bharatanatyam from both of them. Smt. Sunanda Devi and Smt. Veena Murthy Vijay helped me make a foray into Kuchipudi. I made my debut in movies as a child actor in the year 1981, with the Kannada movie Bhakta Gnana Deva. I have acted in around 72 films till date and have done more than 20 serials in Kannada and Telugu languages. I have acted in films like Nyaya yellide, Nagara mahime, Desam lo dongalu paddaru, Thayiya nudi, Thayi mamathe, Brahma Vishnu Maheshwara, Yeradu rekhegalu, Benkiyalli aralida huvu, Neti baharatam etc. I did the movie Shabarimalai Swamy Ayappa, when I was in my teens. This movie fetched me several awards and ran in five languages. I have had the privilege to act under the direction of eminent directors like, K. Balachander, B.S. Ranga, P. Vasu, S. Narayan, T. Krishna garu, Perala, Renuka sharma etc. I have shared screen space with top actors like Prabhakar, Anant Nag, Dr. Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, Ambareesh, Suman, Aarathi, Ambika, Lakshmi, Jayamala, Vijayshanthi, Saritha, Sumalatha, Jayaprada, Jayanthi and B. Saroja Devi. As a hero, I made my debut with actress Soundarya in the Kannada movie Nanna Thangi. I have acted in several hit serials as the male lead in kannada and Telugu, such as, Parvathy 1999, Abhimana 2002-2004, Kavaludaari 2003 to 2005, Gautami in both kannada and telugu 2003 to 2005, Kumkuma Bhagya 2004 to 2007, Kalyani (hit telugu serial) 2004 to 2008. Mamathala Kovela (2012 to 2014), Shivaleelamrutha (2007 to 2009), Shirdi Saibaba (2011 to 2012). At present I am acting in serials such as Parinaya on kasthuri channel and Nagini (Kannada and Tamil) on zee.
- Did you face any major hurdles or challenges in this field? What were they and how did you overcome them?
A: The only challenge that I faced, was that of a boy learning and performing
classical dance. My friends at school teased me, but little did they realize that Bharatanatyam was created by a male god – Nataraja, a dancing form of Lord Shiva and was spread by the sage Bharata. I was ridiculed by many for not being into sports. The admiration and attention I received after each performance pushed me to excel in this field and very soon, all this talk died a natural death.
- What is the importance of dance in your life?
A: Dance, to me, is my life, soul mate, sole form of existence, my inner strength, inspiration, motivation, fitness instructor, my source to travel all over the world. As a guru and singer, it’s an art that has given me lots of love and helped balance my life.
- Tell us about your dance school?
A: SHIVAPRIYA STUDIO, my brain child was started in the year 1989, with around 3 students and more importantly, as a hobby. Today, it’s one of the leading institutions imparting the finer nuances of Bharatanatyam to nearly 200 students. Some of my students are now popular dance instructors across the world. My students are trained in music, basic yoga, pranayama, and the history of the art, apart from various dance styles. Student’s from my institute have performed at Singapore, Muscat, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bahrain, USA, Indonesia etc., and as well as in all leading dance festivals across India.
- Tell us about the awards that you have been bestowed with?
A: I am blessed to have received the following awards and titles in dance.
NRITHYA KISHORA — HYDERABAD
NRUTHYA BHUSHANA — KARNATAKA NRITYA KALA PARISHATH
KALA ARATHI RATNA — PHOENIX, USA
AASTHANA VIDWANA — UDUPI TEMPLE , PHOENIX
ANANYA PURASKAR — BEST DANCER 2013
RAM GOPAL AWARD — BEST MALE DANCER 2012, BY ATTENDANCE, NEW DELHI
SAMAJA SEVA BHUSHANA
KANNADA KALA KANDA
These are just some of my achievements
- What are the qualities one needs to have, to excel in this field?
A: In order to be a good artiste, one needs discipline, inner strength, perseverance, determination, humility, selflessness, dedication, sincerity, honesty, open mindedness and a healthy competitive spirit. The above qualities must be ingrained in order to excel in this field.
- Tell us about your daily routine?
A: My day starts with Pranayama, followed by an hour or more at the Gym. Then follow several meetings and planning for the day. When I’m not shooting for TV serials, I teach dance every day at my institute, from 4 pm to 10 pm. On the days that I am shooting, I dedicate around 12 hours or more to it. I inadvertently tend to miss out on functions and entertainment, but I don’t regret that. I consider myself blessed to belong to the world of artistes.
- What struggles does one encounter in this field?
A: There is no full time job or a fixed salary that you draw every month. There can be several ups and downs but you have the advantage of being your own boss and creativity, which refreshes you. A stage performance tends to give you a high and recognition. Criticism is one major issue, which artistes have to face. If one has faith and dedication in his/her talents, this can be tackled in an effective manner, thereby alleviating stress.
- Any particular incident in this field that has changed your life?
A: In the movie Shabarimalai Ayyappa Swamy, as a child actor, I had to ride on a real tiger! Post that, I have acted with several animals, like rats, dogs and even snakes. This has made me stronger and quite fearless.
- What is your message to the dance/acting aspirants?
A: If you have a dream in your heart, go ahead and give your best to make it come true. Remember, hard work and dedication can create wonders in your life. All the best!