Chetan Salunkhe, a self-trained boy from Pune is now a winner of one of the most-famous dance reality shows in India. Chetan made a mark with winning the show Dance Plus last week. In a candid chat, Chetan talks about his journey from his Vasti (he calls the area he lives in), Pune to finally realising his dreams in Mumbai.
# Winner of Dance Plus season 4, how are you feeling?
I am very happy and can’t really express in words. I had been auditioning for this stage for the last three years and I finally got selected for the fourth season, became a finalist and have now emerged a winner. I am happy.
# How difficult was this for you?
There was a lot of hard work and it has been a dream since the last three years. I have been following Dance Plus from the very first season. I auditioned for it thrice and didn’t get selected. Even for this season I had given audition from Pune, but I wasn’t selected. However, I had made up my mind to crack it this time for sure. So, the very next day after not being selected in the Pune auditions I came to Mumbai. I got selected here.
# How did your parents react to you winning the title?
Mom and Dad are happy with me achieving the title. But they actually don’t know much about this space and the power it holds. They didn’t have the privilege of high education, so they don’t fully understand the path I have set out on. But I have dreams for them and now I will work hard to fulfil them.
# What are the things that you will do with the price money?
There are two main things. First, I want to buy a decent house and the second is that I have two sisters and I want to get them married. My elder sister has been refusing to marry because our mother doesn’t have that much money. Now I will pay for her wedding myself. As for the house, I want to buy a house in Mumbai. Not a big one but enough for my family to stay happily. I will try to convince my parents, because Mumbai is the hub for the field I am getting into.
# How much have things changed after getting into Dance Plus?
I live in a slum currently. Nobody ever noticed me there, I wasn’t getting any response. After getting into Dance Plus, everything has changed. I am not a professional dancer; I have learnt everything in that slum itself. I never enrolled in any class; I used to practice in my Vasti. I used to practise in the night, where people sometimes didn’t even let me do that. But if you ask me frankly, I am more fascinated to practise there than in any class. Even here in Dance Plus, majority of the times I didn’t use to rehearse in the hall, I used to go out somewhere and do it. Punit Sir (Punit Pathak, one of the group leaders and judge) always used to tell me to be the same and never change and I will try to stick to that always.
# Tell me something about your journey in Dance Plus?
I was in Punit Sir’s team. I have seen him working for the last five months closely. He’s very funny, but also very serious about his work. As for the journey, I got to learn a lot. I have been dancing since the last five years, but the amount of knowledge I got in my five months of being with Dance Plus is far more than I got in the five years. Being with Remo Sir (Remo D’Souza) was indeed a privilege and I don’t have words to explain that.
# What are you career plans now?
Now I want to make a career out of dancing. I wasn’t able to finish my schooling. There was a financial crisis back then as my mother was the only earning member, so I used to go to help her so we could at least get a bit more money to make it through till the end of the month. Now I have made Dharmesh sir (Dharmesh Yelande, another team leader and judge in the panel) my inspiration as I feel my journey is a bit similar to his and he has achieved so much.
# Have any offers come your way yet?
I have been getting a lot of offers to conduct dance workshops. The workshop schedule has already begun. I will be going back to Pune soon for one week and return the next week and will also have one workshop arranged on February 19. Now I want to earn money and give it to my mummy as she has helped me a lot. I am a kid who had to struggle even for Rs 500.
# How are the people back in Pune reacting to your success?
People have been calling me and praising me. They are getting selfies clicked even with my parents there. When mom-dad, tell me about that, I feel very happy as I always wanted them to be famous because of me.
# Do you dream of opening a dance institute some day?
I want to teach dance for free to the people who are not privileged enough to pay for learning dance. I used to teach 15-20 kids from my Vasti back in Pune and I want to continue that. People used to tell me that I was wasting my time as well as that of their kids. I used to feel bad, but now I want to see their reactions when I go back to Pune.
# Which of the actors that came on the set, were you excited the most about?
The best moment for me was when people from the Dance Plus invited Ketaki Mategaonkar to surprise me as I am her huge fan. She gave me a Ganesha idol as a gift which is now very close to my heart. Also Prabhudeva sir came on the sets and I got to share the stage with him which will be the most-treasured memory of my life. I always used to see him on the TV and wondered if I could ever get a chance to see him in person. My mother is a big fan of Madhuri Dixit Nene and she got to dance with Madhuri. That was also something I can never forget.
With this new milestone, Chetan has achieved a lot with his hardwork. His future looks as bright as his smile and his approach is honest towards it. We at Cine Blitz wish this young and emerging talent best of luck!