The backstory of contestants on any reality show gives us a glimpse into their daunting journey, but, there are many other talents whose stories remain untold despite them carrying loads of dedication and ability. One such example is Karan Singh Nirwan, who stood firm with courage and backed his talent against fierce opposition from family and the society to become a respectable dancer. Karan’s story has all the flavours of struggle, ups and downs, challenges, emotional breakdowns, and success.
“We know what we are, but know not what we may be” - William Shakespeare
Born to a Rajput family of Ajmer, Rajasthan, Karan was loved by all for his notorious and childish acts. His father worked for the Indian Railways, and his mother was a housewife. From the very beginning, artistic and creative work attracted him more than academic studies, and instead of writing alphabets with the pencil, he would draw sketches of his favourite things. Like most of the kids, he was also active in the field of sports but, unlike others, his tilt was not towards cricket or football but Boxing. In addition to this, he also had a liking for dance but, due to the casual social attitude towards dancing, it remained limited to a mere hobby.
Bouquet of Talents
As he grew old, what seemed only a regular pastime to others became his passion. In school, at home, and anywhere possible, in front of the mirror, he used to flex his body and perform dance moves that were unique and flawless. Karan started participating in dance competitions at the school level and left a mark in the audiences’ hearts with his superior moves. No one in the family, other than his mother and elder brother, supported his passion for the art form. Instead, everyone wanted him to do well in academics and grab a decent job. Despite the opposition, he never left any opportunity to perform in social and cultural gatherings held near his house, which attracted some arguments and quarrels at home because his father was never a fan of his dancing acts.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” - Oscar Wilde
The Jawahar Senior Secondary school of Ajmer brought in his life not only dancing but also Boxing opportunities. Karan enrolled as a boxer, and soon his performance got rewarded, and he went on to compete at the state level. He led his school to victory in many competitions in both the fields of dancing and boxing. His life seemed to be on track since he now had two distinct career options in front of him and the fascinating thing was that he was excelling in both of them.
Making Up Mind
Everyone experiences tough choices in life, and for Karan, that moment came in 2005. One day, he was about to qualify for playing at the National level of Boxing after winning the first bout of the qualifier held in Jodhpur. And, to share this joyous news of the status of his match, he called home, but what his mother informed him in return, turned out to be more startling to him. She told Karan about the call from a dance show whose audition is to be held the next day, reminding him of the registration form that he filled some time back.
And now, he didn’t have much time to decide whether he would give up on the qualifier, for his passion of dancing or put aside the art that came naturally to him and continue playing. Quickly introspecting at the crossroad, he decided to follow his heart. This was the very first time when he dared not to listen to the world and fight for his passion.
It will be the toughest thing you’ll ever do, but your heart is never wrong- Maxime Lagacé
He immediately left for Ajmer, where auditions were to be held, leaving the match in the middle. First, rigorous Boxing and then the train journey, both were tiring, but the excitement and grit with which he had left were above all of it. Sadly, he also caught up with fever upon reaching the venue, but as nothing can beat dedication, he showed exemplary courage to dance in sickness. All the hard work finally brought fruit when he cleared the audition with ease and was selected to compete in the show.
True ‘Ajmer Idol’
Karan knew that Ajmer Idol could change things for good when it comes to his dancing, and that's what pumping him to give his best. It was the competition which was going to run for six months with a new challenge to face every week. Moreover, more than 250 contestants were participating in this, coming from different cities and different genres of dance.
While facing tough competition from dancers, he stood tall and spread the magic of his self-learnt dance steps and moves over the judges and the audiences alike. The entire city was left spellbound by his performances, and his efforts. His hard work and self-belief combined with the love he received in return helped him lift the title of 'Ajmer Idol', triumphantly. As rewards, the young man received a bike, in addition to the cash prizes, and of course, the bundle of praises. And, he did not stop here, he started taking dance classes as he wanted to teach as many students as he could, proving the worth of his title.
The Turning Points
The win at Ajmer Idol changed the mindset of Karan's family, and it was then his family started taking his Dancing Journey seriously. For the next four years, Karan won every dance competition for his college and also grabbed several gold medals in Boxing at the state and university level. Everything was going well, and things had begun to fall in place for the young talent, but a lot was yet to come.
In 2009, Karan was riding high on his success and excitedly started preparing for auditions of Dance India Dance (DID). When he was all set to rock one more stage, a very heart wrenching incident occurred. His strongest support system, his mother died due to some severe health condition, which left him emotionally devastated. He wanted to drop everything he was doing and, as a result, he missed his auditions as well. It took him a lot of time to come out of the trauma, and the fact that his mother would have wanted him to prosper in life inspired him to get back to work.
“Everything is possible. The impossible just takes longer” - Dan Brown
Owning His Dreams
Believing in not to give up, he had vowed to himself to bring DID to Ajmer on his own, since he had missed the auditions. Then, in 2012, his dream came true when he managed to bring to the state, for the first time, a celebrity, Prince Gupta, from the popular dance reality show, and this goes on and on. In 2014, chasing down his another goal of teaching dance to thousands of students, he took one big step of opening his dance academy, ‘Ajmer Dance Club’, along with one of his friends. It is this level of determination that has led him to a point where his students range from the lowest strata to the highest income group of the society and he imparts training to young and upcoming superstars of India.
Walking down the lane, this talented choreographer explored his one more talent, at various occasions, of organizing the events; and this is something he enjoyed doing as well. Hence, in 2019, putting one more feather to his hat, he commenced his event management company, Bandhan Sutra. Karan’s journey has peaks and valleys, twists and turns, but one thing which remains constant is his dedication towards his work.
“Playing it safe is the riskiest choice we can ever make” - Sarah Ban Breathnah
Right from the beginning, Karan has put plenty of efforts consistently without getting complacent. He has truly been an epitome of hard work, self-determination, and perseverance. A guy, who used to perform only in family functions and cultural events at one point of time, today organises events in places outside India and has a dance academy to his name, what else one could ask for. He is a fine example of turning dreams into reality despite continuous opposition from family and relatives who give only minute importance to artistic professions, and preferably, emphasise on popular choices like government jobs with a 9 to 5 routine. The day when everyone will start listening to their heart and start following their passion with brains, then this earth will become happier; Karan did it!