Draining, exhausting, testing and trying — Ripudaman Handa and Shivangi claim it to be the toughest time of their lives. One among the top seven contestants of Nach Baliye on Star Plus, the Delhi-based couple stopped by in Chandigarh and gave us a sneak peak into the lives of reality dance show contestants. And as Handa puts it, the picture is far from glamorous. “I was in two minds when the channel approached me, primarily because I am a cook with two left feet. I can’t move my waist to save my life,” says Handa, the winner of MasterChef India 2013.
What, or rather who, convinced him was his next-door neighbour and girlfriend of six years, Shivangi. An animator-turned-corporate executive, she found the idea exciting and a chance for them to spend time together. “Honestly, we thought we’d last two weeks, but here we are, in top seven,” says Shivangi.
Dancing, admit the two, is not everybody’s thing. “Initially, we were excited by the lights, costumes, acts, energy and celebrity judges,” says Shivangi, a follower of the show right from the first season. But as weeks progressed and the acts got tougher, the two found themselves prone to injury, ligament tears and energy loss, and were on the verge of giving up. “The craziest thing was lifts and aerial routines. For this, I made Shivangi run and lose weight,” says Handa, who has also lost 9-10 kilos over the weeks.
Needless to say, he would choose a cookery show any day over this. “Our choreographers Sonali and Elton Palden are hard taskmasters. They refuse to adjust the step to our comfort level; it has to be their way,” adds Shivangi.
Glittery costumes, layers of make-up, exploring a gamut of emotions, arming up stiff bodies, gaining flexibility and braving the judges’ harsh comments — dance, says Handa, is stressful. “It also requires lot of expression, and neither of us are actors. So conjuring up a smile, tear, or aggression was another challenge,” he adds.
Demanding routines translated to more time investment, and the two soon found themselves eating, drinking and sleeping in the rehearsal hall, leaving for home not before midnight. “This is a high-level stressful competition, that needs guts and courage, discipline and determination,” says Handa, who took this challenge to lay the foundation of his future with Shivangi. Soon, he plans to start restaurants in Ahmedabad, Delhi and Punjab.