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Shantanu Maheshwari gets nostalgic about shooting in Calcutta

Calcutta boy Shantanu Maheshwari on why his heart always beats for the city

Priyanka Roy  | Published 07.01.22, 12:04 AM
Shantanu Maheshwari at The Oberoi Grand on his recent visit to the city.

Shantanu Maheshwari at The Oberoi Grand on his recent visit to the city.

Rashbehari Das

Calcutta boy Shantanu Maheshwari was recently in the city. The Telegraph chatted with the ace dancer who has won many international laurels but always considers Calcutta home.

What brings you to Calcutta this time?
I can’t reveal too much about my upcoming project, but I am here for a work trip... to shoot something coming up in 2022. It’s great to be back... I love it when I get a chance to shoot in Calcutta. Shooting at spots I have visited through my childhood brings back some amazing memories and nostalgia.  

Calcutta at this time of the year has its own charm. What do you love the most about the city during the festive season?
The festive season in Calcutta is what I love the most about the city. Especially Christmas, which is celebrated in full spirit! It’s lovely to see every corner of the city being beautifully decorated to add to the festive vibe. The churches in Calcutta, especially during Christmas, have a kind of old-world charm which is irreplaceable. The city is at its happening best during December, and being here during this month and celebrating the festival at home after five long years, was a wonderful experience!

What are your favourite childhood memories in Calcutta associated with Christmas and New Year?
My favourite place to visit, especially during the festive season, is Park Street. It is always lit up and decorated so well, and it’s always buzzing with people and food stalls and so much more...  it has an amazing vibe, and being here during any festival, mainly Christmas, is good fun.
I also love visiting the Bowbazar area. I have a few friends there, and during school days, I would go there to celebrate with them. Even now when I am in the city, I make it a point to go there as and when I can, though unfortunately this year I couldn’t visit that area. I studied at a Christian school (The Park English School) and there we had massive celebrations with lots of carol singing, Christmas-related performances and plum cake treats for all the students, which were eagerly awaited every year.

On this visit, you Instagrammed a picture of the meal you ate at Balwant Singh Dhaba. Which are the food stops in Calcutta that you love to eat at when you are here?
I love the food at Balwant Singh Dhaba, the tea at Russell Dhaba, KC Das, Peter Cat, Bar-B-Q, the restaurant at the Rajasthan Guest House, Shiraz and Kusum Rolls. These continue to remain my favourite eating joints in the city.

After spending so many years outside the city, where do you think Calcutta’s charm lies in?
I have been born and brought up in Calcutta and there are many things I miss about the city. For me, every place in the city has a different memory attached to it. Whenever I come back here, Calcutta makes me feel very peaceful. The people here are relaxed and helpful. Also listening to the Bengali language is a delight.

You have been pretty prolific with your work over the last few years. From dance to acting to winning reality shows and also featuring in music videos and ads....
Over the years, the most creatively satisfying experience for me has been bringing Indian dance on the world stage, and showcasing our dance and culture at events and competitions across the globe, making people aware of the rich talent that lies in our country. After which Indian dancers and dance was taken a lot more seriously and dancers from other parts of the world were also more eager to see what we had to offer wherever we would participate at those events. The knowledge exchange and learnings that came with participating at such prestigious platforms only helped me enhance my creativity as a dancer to the fullest.

When we spoke last time, you had said that you would like to act a little bit more than you were doing then. What’s happening on that front?
A lot of work on different mediums has recently been happening for me. There are a few projects coming up, but there’s not much I can reveal about at the moment.  I am very happy with the kind of work that has been coming my way. I always ensure that I strike a balance between acting and dancing as I am very passionate about both.

What is your long-term vision regarding dance, both in terms of your own career and in popularising it among youngsters in India?
When I think about my personal long-term vision about dance, the main thing that strikes me is to keep learning more aspects of dance and new forms of dance. There is so much that needs to be explored and absorbed which will help me become a better performer. There is no set goal or mark that I have set for myself as a dancer, but I just want to keep growing and pushing my boundaries as a performer.

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When it comes to popularising the form, I always try and associate with institutes and academies to share my knowledge about dance. But it is hard to trust people with your knowledge these days, as I have had a few bad experiences where I have helped people develop course ideas and systematic learning techniques and have not even been acknowleged for the same. But that has in no way stopped me from giving back to dance in every way I can, and also importantly ensuring that from my end no aspiring talent goes unrecognised.

What will your message be to a young boy or girl who idolises you, has the talent for dance but doesn’t know how to go about having a career in it?
What I have observed is that today’s youth is more focused on success. My message to them would be to not pressurise themselves, or compare themselves to others when it comes to their career, which can be dance or any other field. Everyone has their own pace and everyone will get their own time to shine... the important thing is to do what you are doing with passion and give it your absolute best.

Another trait I have noticed in youngsters today is that they are not very good at accepting criticism. I feel that healthy criticism for anything you work on is very necessary, as that is the only path to constant growth and that needs to be accepted by them more openly. With personal experience, I also feel that if you are true to any form of art you take up without running behind  fame or money, it will always give back to you. And, most importantly, celebrate dance!

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When I think about my personal long-term vision about dance, the main thing that strikes me is to keep learning more aspects of dance and new forms of dance. There is so much that needs to be explored and absorbed which will help me become a better performer. There is no set goal or mark that I have set for myself as a dancer, but I just want to keep growing and pushing my boundaries as a performer.

Last updated on 07.01.22, 02:18 AM
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