By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 31, 2017
In June 2009, a newcomer performed with sincerity on screen. The movie was Let’s Dance and though it had a cast of first-timers, the film was decent in the sense that it was way above the Bollywood films with stars (and no content) that we often are subjected to. Those films bank on heavy promotions.
Nothing of that sort happened with this flick. It came and went. However, it did receive good reviews and Gayatri Patel, who performed in the lead, was acknowledged not only for her acting but also for her dancing which was an integral part of the film.
Movie done, Gayatri hoped that Bollywood would welcome her with open arms. Nepotism was rampant even then! Soon she was wondering if her choice of getting into Bollywood was right. The offers were taking forever and then it dawned on her that this industry is not just song and dance! It’s also about having the right ‘connections’ which go by the name of God Fathers!
“After Let’s Dance I gave myself six months to get an offer for a film with a brilliant actor, director or producer. And instead, Emory offered me an 18,000 Dollar semester grant to finish University. It was a sign that I needed to finish my education and realign with my higher truth,” reveals Gayatri Patel, now Bahl, who is settled in the US of A and doing pretty well for herself pursuing her dreams and pushing her talent to the limits.
Gayatri likes to live life to the fullest and in her husband, Dr Sumeet Bahl, she has found that anchor who has allowed her to spread her wings and soar to the skies…
Opening Doorz connected with Suhani from Let’s Dance and here’s what came about from this wonderful long-distance chat…
Let’s Dance… and then no dance. What exactly happened?
I get asked that question a lot. Especially after starring as the lead in a film for which I received rave reviews. At some point, I remember feeling as if I wasn’t living my truth. For me, my initial vision was to share my passion and art with a wider audience. That’s why I left college at Emory University to move to Mumbai. After Let’s Dance, I gave myself six months to get an offer for a film with a brilliant actor, director or producer. Instead, Emory offered me an 18,000 Dollar semester grant to finish university. It was a sign that I needed to finish my education and realign with my higher truth.
Did you plan to come back after completing your education?
I planned to actually come back to Bollywood after I finished college. However, I met my future husband literally 10 days after moving back from India to finish my studies. Sometimes you have to follow where life takes you. I love what I’m doing now and am so blessed to be able to live in one of the greatest cities in the world—New York City!
How did you meet your husband, Dr Sumeet?
We went to college together but didn’t know one another that well. After I moved back from India he reached out via facebook and we reconnected. He was in Medical School at the time and we had a six-hour Skype conversation.
So it was love at first skype?
Absolutely! What I love about our marriage is that I fall in love with him again and again. Sometimes while discussing meditation and quantum physics and sometimes while discussing our passion for a life that contributes to a greater cause and purpose.
Indian dance seems to be getting a lot of exposure through you in the US…
I love the Indian form of dance. I was recently featured by Elle Magazine US in their Movement Series. It was a true honor to represent Indian dance and expression and share it with the international Indian audience as well as non-Indian patrons of dance.
Post your return to the US, and after University, what have you been busy with?
Since Mumbai, I’ve done so many amazing and surprising things, like learning to code, starting a tech company and being accepted to (arguably) the #1 Tech Accelerator in the world, Techstars NYC. I’m just wrapping up production for a comedic web series, I’m co-producing and staring in and lastly, I’m writing my first screenplay.
In a way, it would be right to say that you are living your dream, not pursuing it?
In India, I was trying to pursue a dream. Today, it’s a truly thrilling feeling to be living and constantly rediscovering your art and it was incredibly liberating for me to realize that my art could still live and perhaps even thrive beyond Bollywood.
Can you give a brief about the training you have received in dance and its various forms?
I have had the privilege of training under and eventually being choreographed by Saroj Khan; training in contemporary and modern dance at Terrence Lewis’ studio; and finally training with Pandit Birju Maharaj’s direct disciple, Vijayshree Chaudhary. I learnt the finer nuances of dance from Vijayshreeji. She rounded off my skills like no other guru could have done. Her strengths as a dancer lie in her ability to not only be technically beautiful, but also expressive and engaging. In addition, I have also had the privilege of working with Longinus Fernandes and Rajeev Goswami.
Did you at any time feel frustrated or upset that things did not look up your way after Let’s Dance?
I was definitely heartbroken when Let’s Dance didn’t go the way we planned. But looking back, 85 per cent of reviewers admired my work and my performance. And as I said before, life has interesting ways of changing course for the better. I love all the amazing opportunities that I am finding in NYC and love living in the most multicultural and global city in the world. Life has interesting ways of taking you down different paths. I needed to leave Mumbai to experience New York!
What would be your message for newcomers who are hoping against hope in Bollywood?
Life is an adventure. Go for it, but like Krishna said, “’Don’t be attached to the results.” I’m not sure if he said it like that, but that’s my interpretation of the Gita and I try my best to live by that sentiment. Work hard and then let God do the rest and accept the results with an even mind and open heart.
Also Read: Our very own Commando: Vidyut Jamwal