Seven years ago, Aman Roy, who was 20 at the time, ran away from his home in Bihar’s Chakai, a village with patchy electricity and no railway station, too small and slow to pursue his dreams of being a cricketer. He arrived at the capital hoping to make some money working in a textile factory so that he could pursue his passion for sports. Having enrolled in a Bachelors in Computer Applications in Chandigarh, he realised his chances of pursuing cricket were slim. At that very time, a family friend, who doubles as his mentor in the NCR, introduced him to the idea of parkour.
Over the next two years, Roy watched hundreds of YouTube videos — many of them on “French army training” — to teach himself and train in the sport. Roy saw his college friends, who began taking to 9-5 jobs in closed offices, ageing and their health deteriorating. That is when he decided to pursue the sport so that he could lead a healthier life.
Today, Roy professionally teaches parkour to about 100 students — aged between four and 55 — at various parks in Gurgaon and Delhi. Roy has also choreographed parkour moves for actor Akshay Kumar for the Bollywood movie ‘Boss’ and for Sushant Singh Rajput in a soft drink commercial.
Parkour, which was originally developed by French choreographer and actor David Belle and his father in the late 1980s, is an “obstacle course movement” sport in an urban setting, which combines running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling to tackle obstacles and get from one point to another. It has also become an artistic form of protest in Palestine.
“The sport appealed to me because it keeps one mentally and physically fit. I can’t live without parkour. This is what I do for a living,” Roy says.
While parkour videos show people manoeuvring roofs and other fixtures of the urbanscape seen as ‘obstacles’, Roy limits his training to open areas or parks since “jumping over buildings is not allowed here because people misunderstand the art”. Two of his favourite spots are Lodhi Garden and Ansal Plaza.
Aman says he has developed a bond with his students and considers them his friends. Aman’s 26-year-old student Kriti Gupta, known as ‘Commando’ in the group, says: “Parkour doesn’t have rules, it has techniques, and once you start, you can’t stop…”