‘For me, dance is life. I see myself dancing away happily...’ (2022)

She made a mark for herself in Marathi cinema too with films like Eka Peksha Ek and Anapekshit.

Today I want to take all of you back to the era of the 1980’s and 1990’s, a time when lots of new beautiful faces were entering into Indian cinema as mainstream heroines. Each of them had very different and unique talents, they were not just drop-dead gorgeous but were also extremely talented actresses and dancers. One such actress-dancer who till date rules our mind is the super talented Archana Joglekar.

Those of you who remember her will vouch for her flawless complexion, her beautiful light eyes, her extremely expressive face and of course, her mesmerising talent of dance. Archana Joglekar is an Indian actress and a classical dancer who appeared in numerous Hindi, Marathi, Oriya and Tamil films and not just that, she later even delved into television serials before leaving Indian shores and settling in the US.

Some of her noted Hindi films were Sansaar, Mardangi, Aatank hi Aatank, Aag Se Khelenge and more. She made a mark for herself in Marathi cinema too with films like Eka Peksha Ek and Anapekshit. You have surely loved her in television serials like Karmabhoomi, Phoolwanti, Kissa Shanti Ka, Chahat Aur Nafrat and more. Her talent did not stop at this point and she even acted in an Oriya film, Suna Chadhei, and a Tamil film, Mogamul, and also took up direction avidly. She is indeed an actress, dancer, writer, director and a choreographer who we all look up to.

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She is a trained Kathak dancer and choreographer, who learnt her unmatched craft from her mother Asha Joglekar, a renowned Kathak danseuse and guru in her own right, who was also the disciple of Padmashree Gopi Kishan and Pandita Rohini Bhate.

On August 15th, 1963, her mother founded a dance school in Mumbai called “Archana Nrityalaya”. In 1999, Archana Joglekar opened a branch of this dance school in New Jersey, USA and till date is tirelessly working to make the Indian art forms popular in the US. Students of Archana Arts are growing into fine dancers and winning various classical dance competitions with their qualitatively powerful presentations. Archana ji’s exceptional teaching skills, ability to find the plus points in each student and enhancing that into the finer point of Kathak, personal attention and in-depth knowledge offered to every student in the institute are the contributing factors to making Archana Nrityalaya a highly reputed Kathak dance academy in the US.

On my recent trip to the US, I had the good fortune of meeting this dynamic, full of life dance guru and together we had a hearty talk, while engrossed in our conversation the gorgeous dancer-actress laughed, got emotional and at the same time gracefully spoke of her dancing life away from the arc lights of cinema.

At the peak of your career, you moved away from films, what made you make that move?
I found the right man with whom I wanted to start a family and most importantly, he unconditionally supported me for my dance. Dance for me is like oxygen, he totally understood that. What more could I have asked for?

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Do you miss the attention and the glamour that you were surrounded by when you were in India?
Filmmaking is a beautiful process that made me who I am, it made me completely discover myself. Yes, I miss that creative part of cinema for sure. Not the glamour quotient, being a dancer I am often on stage, so the attention and glamour is still a part of my life (she laughs).

Archana Nrityalaya is considered one of the foremost Kathak dance schools in the US. Please tell us more about it?
At my institute, we emphasise on perfection, riyaz, taiyyari in Tatkar, pandhant, command over the laykari, training the detailed nuances of abhinaya along with in-depth knowledge of theory. At Archana Nrityalaya, a student learns Kathak as a complete style, blending the plus points of all three Gharanas — Lucknow, Jaipur and Banaras. As a powerful tatkar, chakri of Jaipur, nazakat and beauty of torso movements, gat-nikas, finishes of the todas of Lucknow and powerful natwari bol of Benaras are all combined into a complete style in itself, created after endless hours of thoughtful input by my mother and guru, Asha Joglekar.

Each year you organise various festivals in India and in the US. What makes them all so unique?
Gandharva Festival is my way to pay tribute to my guru who taught me all that I know and much more. At Gandharva, we have a great blend of gayan, vachan and nritya, separately as well as all at the same time. Legends like Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Jasraj, Hari Prasad Chaurasiya and many more have been a part of this mark of respect which I hold each year for my guru.

I also have Bal Kalakar Sangeet Samelan, a festival which is especially meant for the kids below 14 years of age and then there is Nav Gandharva Festival which is for the rising star dancers. These festivals are a doorway for new upcoming dancers to showcase their talent in the US. I try my best to give every participant world-class facilities and a platform to shine as bright as they can.

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What difference you see in students in India and the US?
In India, I see students give more time to dance. Students dance daily or even a few days a week, whereas in the US it is more of a weekend culture but I am known to be a sweet bad teacher. I often use modern technology and give face time lessons to the ones who show interest and there are many who are now attending class regularly.

Apart from teaching dance, what kept you busy in the US?
(Laughs) My son Dhruv, he kept me busy all the time. He is brilliant. I am not saying this because I am his mother but because he is a topper in studies and has knowledge of Kathak, table tennis, chess and more. (Emotional) My divorce from my husband Dr Nirmal Mulye kept me busy too. (Laughs again) and finding a new partner through a dating site took up my time as well.

Life teaches us many lessons and we experience wonderful things in our journey. One thing was nice that being away from films allowed me to write and I have put together few scripts. Right now ready with me is a romantic script — a high voltage family drama one — a story on real life incidence and of course a dance film too.

So do we see you direct a film soon? Who are your favourite in Bollywood today?
Yes. If I find the right person to produce it, for sure, I would love to sit on the director’s chair. I would love to make my high voltage family drama film with Alia Bhatt, the real life one with Shah Rukh Khan and the dance film with Katrina Kaif and mind you, though I am a choreographer too I would not choreograph that film. I will ask Ganesh Acharya to plan all the moves for me because I think he is just brilliant and marvellous with his work.

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Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
(Laughs) Holidaying and enjoying my life, like I always did. I never take life seriously. For me, dance is life. I see myself dancing away happily with my students and if they not there, no worries, I can dance alone because dance to me is oxygen.

Meeting Archana ji was a like breathing fresh air, after all dance was her oxygen and she gave some to me too. While we said our goodbyes she promised to help find a partner for me through dating sites. She said “Sandip if I can find one so can you, I have met some wonderful people and some weirdoes through the dating sites and finally did settle for one. So I have the experience to find one for you.” So through this article, I wish to allow her to do that for me now (smiles)

Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore, is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with three National Excellence Awards and one National Achievement Award by the Government of India. He can be contacted on sandipsoparrkar06@gmail.com


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