When we are walking on the path which leads to our destiny; we tend to face many barriers, demotivation and criticism which in itself acts as the biggest down puller. But Mr. Kamlesh says, “the things which challenge you are the ones which help you to achieve success. Accept it and see how your destiny leads your life”.
Mr. Kamlesh Patel comes from a small village name ‘Padra’ which is in Baroda district, Gujarat. He is a dancer who has performed on prestigious platforms like Dance India Dance (D.I.D.), has been the winner of “All Gujarat Dance Competition” & was invited to judge the same competition afterwards. Who when first performed in front of the legend of Indian dance herself Late Shrimati Saroj Khan, it made her eyes dwell up with pride and respect.
Mr. Kamlesh was 5 years of age when he was suffering from a regular illness and was taken to a local doctor by his parents. The doctor being a local one and comparatively less experienced, unknowingly gave Mr. Kamlesh an injection. As a result, the injection was administered at the wrong place and with an unauthenticated procedure. The blood circulation in one of his veins stopped, and he got paralysed from the lower body! Mr. Kamlesh’s family was not economically firm, so they couldn't afford advanced treatments. All they could do was a home treatment, Ayurveda and local consultation. Despite of all these efforts, there was never a ray of hope and his lower body entered that stagnant phase of paralysis.
Mr. Patel's family has always taken decisions in favor of their child. Irrespective of their unstable financial condition, they tried their best to provide the best education to their child. As his parents were so dedicated, Mr. Kamlesh was able to complete his graduation finally. He says, “there is a specific age when one starts to understand what and how the world around him works, he starts to learn “duniyadari” and how this society sees a disabled person”. When he understood the true virtues that encircles a disabled person and the limitations the society poses for the same, he made it a point to fight for himself in order to survive the ‘negativity of this so called duniyadari’.
Mr. Kamlesh always invested his hope and faith in God and never was deprived of self-confidence. Mr. Kamlesh always had one thing in mind. He knew that all the aspects he has to fulfil in order to win this societal battle of survival, he has to do it all by himself and cannot depend on anyone for his ray of hope. Mr. Kamlesh always had this motto which he used to rely on to make people realize, “to live a life or to reach some destination in life you never see physical disabilities as a ‘problem’”. Till the time your mind is strong enough, you withstand any difficulty in your life and enjoy victory.
He says, “I am not disabled but I am a DIFFERENTIATOR".
Initially, though Mr. Patel had an interest in dance, he never thought and knew that it could be his career. How can he dance if he has no legs? Whenever he used to see someone dancing on TV or at Ganesh Utsav or in school, he used to think if he too had legs, he also could have been on the stage with his friends. Whenever he shared such moments, he recited only one line; “If there is a will, there will always be a way”.
Mr. Kamlesh was a graduate, he could have taken any job but he decided to give dance a shot. Once one of his friends suggested to him that if he wants to learn dance there is this class in Baroda. The distance from his village to Baroda was 15 km approx. The dance class was taken by Manu Thapa and Gudurala sir. He owned a tricycle at that time. Once he took his tricycle and rode to Baroda, the dance class was on the 5th floor of the building. He climbed the stairs with the help of his hands and met the dance teacher. When he enquired about the teachings the teachers could only say, “how can we teach him as he has no legs? A normal person faces a lot of difficulties to learn to dance. It will be much more difficult for Mr. Kamlesh”.
Yet, Mr. Kamlesh asked the teacher to give it a try and to their surprise, he was really exceptional at it. He says, “the things which challenge you are the one which help you to achieve success”. And that's how his journey started…
Daily at 5 pm he used to take his tricycle and ride to Baroda to his class, climb those steps up to the 5th floor with his hands and come back home late at night. He used to dance on his hands. His parents always had this feeling of guilt with them, but Mr. Kamlesh himself being the epitome of positivity used to motivate all of them.
Mr. Patel also had some responsibilities for his family. His family owned a small and it was difficult for them to just survive off on that. For around 2-3 months he didn't tell his parents that he has started practicing dance. He expresses his gratitude to those teachers who always had his back and helped him at every step. In those times, he used to dance on one song “Barbie Girl” which he had choreographed. For his first major stage show even though it was on a small scale he converted his plain normal t-shirt into his costume for his performance. The time he performed his first dance in front of the audience, the crowd appreciated him well and demanded a once more. That day he realised that dance is his path and his destiny.
“Zindagi ke isi rann me khud hi Arjuna aur Khud hi Krishna banna padta hai, Roz apna hi sarthi bankar jeevan ki is Mahabharat se ladna padta hai!”
As days were passing, Mr. Kamlesh was getting appreciated by people around him. This was the time when he realized he has to start to enhance himself. He knew that not everyone can give him time and efforts as much as he can invest in himself. So, he started learning different forms of dance himself and became his teacher. He says, if you have to achieve certain things in life you have to do it yourself, no one is going to do it for you. Today he is 38 and he started his career in dance when he was 19. “Nazar ko badlo najar badal jaega. Soch ko badlo sitara badal jaega. Kashti badalne ki jarurat nahi, Disha ko badlo kinara apne aap badal jaega!”
Mr. Kamlesh says that the education for dance never ends. He handed over the function of his legs to his hands and today he performs Bharatanatyam, Jazz, Contempt, Hip hop and many more dance forms. It was after 2-3 years that he decided to take part in The All Gujarat Dance Competition in 2006, which was supposed to be judged by the Late Legend Saroj Khan. When Mr. Kamlesh went to the counter to fill the form for the competition, the crew said that he cannot take part as the completion is not for disabled ones. Seeing Mr. Kamlesh disappointed, one kind-hearted person went to Late Shrimati Saroj khan the next day and asked if they could keep a disabled category in the competition. She said “yes, why not? If the person’s performance is worthy, we will award him”. And that's how Mr. Kamlesh took part in the competition. Since he had only prepared for 2 song, he buckled up and choreographed another song in the next 4-5 hours.
For Mr. Patel’s entire dance routine, the legend Saroj Khan was standing and was in tears. After the performance, Saroj khan came up to the stage hugged him and gave him a shagun of Rs. 100. He not only became the winner of All Gujarat Dance Competition 2006 but in the next year in Ahmedabad at the All Gujarat Dance Competition he sat beside Saroj khan as a judge. Now, people were acknowledging him for his dance in and around Baroda District. It was in 2009 when the crew of Dance India Dance (DID) wanted to make an advertising and promotional video emphasizing the traditional folk dances all over India. They got to know about Mr. Kamlesh and he got a call to showcase his dance group in the promo of the reality show. He gave audition for the show along with his students. He cleared all the rounds and the only round left was to perform in front of the main judges that Ms. Geeta Kapoor, Mr. Terence Lewis and Mr. Remo D’Souza. Due to this sudden happening, he had to cancel a show in Teroi, which was scheduled for the same day.
During the final round of his audition, he got a standing ovation from all the three judges. Mr. Remo D’Souza said “Ye duniya me kisi ki aukaat nahi ki tumhe judge kar paye”. After getting the “Takdeer ki Topi” he had to perform in batches at Mumbai for the final selection round for Top 18. Mr. Kamlesh and his group practiced till 04:00 am in the morning and he got selected for the Top 18! On his opening act he received a standing ovation from Mr. Mithun Chakraborty and Mr. Kamlesh judged the entire show sitting right next to him. He considers himself quite lucky that he got a platform like DID. It was for him like a dream come true. That is the reason he always says, “dream as big as you can”.
Today Mr. Patel has his own Dance Academy named as “Mahadev”. The aim is to give people of all kind who are interested in dance a platform. He also runs an NGO - Kamlesh Patel Healthcare Foundation in which he helps disabled people in every way he can.
He says everything depends upon your efforts and luck at the same time. Destiny is not made by us but we can surely divert it. DID was interesting yet filled with challenges. He says, “many people usually ask him about his struggling part of life but he says that he never agreed to the fact for himself that he is struggling”. In life, if any barrier comes do not let it affect you. Life plays with us all the time, but you can divert the time and play with life. Everyone has an ability. There is nothing no one can do. All you have to do is look within yourself. Mr. Patel never stopped believing in God. He says “everything that happened in his life till date is good, everything happening today is better and anything which will happen in the future will be the best”. He also says, “once you find interest in something and put all your efforts in it, the doors to success automatically opens”. “Hajaro dukho se lada hu me, fir bhi dekh zindagi tere samne khada hu me Ab tak zindagi khel khel rahi thi mere sath ab meri bari thi zindagi k sath khel khelne ki!”
At the end he mentioned, “Zindagi ek jeet hai use kabul kar lijiye. Zindagi ek ehsas hai use mehsus kar lijeye. Zindagi ek dard hai use pak lijiye. Zindagi ek milan muskura lijiye. Zindagi ek judai hai sabar kr lijie. Zindagi ek asu hai use pi lijie." Zindagi akhir me ek zindagi hai use jee lijie”
- Team Satyavachan