First of all, we would like to welcome a lady with a vision who has contributed the Kokborok Industry from past 14 Years.Today we have one of the best Choreographer of the industry Sharmili Debbarma.Thank You for sitting down here to answer these few questions for us and for your fans.
So let’s start.It’s going to be interesting to know the in depth story behind you & your team 🙂
Borok TV: So tell us something about yourself.
Sharmili: Hello, I’m Sharmili Debbarma. I hail from Champahour, Khowai. I’ve done my schooling at my village, graduated from Women’s College and did my MA from Tripura University. Most people know me as a choreographer but apart from that, I’m a teacher by profession for the last 6 years. I’m an ardent traveller and love traveling. I’m a caring, cheerful and jolly person. Singing songs are a favorite hobby of mine and I’m an enthusiastic converser. I love interacting with people. That’s me in a nutshell.
Borok TV: You’ve been in the dancing domain for quite a long time. How long exactly have you been into this field?
Sharmili: When I first set foot in the world of dance, there were no such good platforms or ample chances to hone and display our talents back then. I came to Agartala in the year 2004 for my higher studies. By luck’s stroke, I happened to get acquainted with a popular musical team/band then, named Chongpreng. I was one of the performers in a group dance at an event of theirs. We performed on the song, “Twisa rukungtwi kormoti” which was appraised by all. However deep down I wanted to be something else. Not just a performer, but a voice inside told me I could be a choreographer. By fate’s will, I did get my first chance to choreograph a kokborok dance at a programme in my college. That was my first experience choreographing a dance. So you could say I entered the domain of dance in 2004, and it has been 13 years of an exhilarating experience.
Borok TV: You’re a pioneer in the dance domain. What changes have you seen in the dance domain so far as a choreographer?
Sharmili: Thank you for the compliment. The world of dance belongs to the realm of performing arts, and to stay and persevere in this domain isn’t as simple as it seems. As a choreographer, I’ve seen my fair share of changes in the field of dance. These changes have been remarkable and are evident from the level of dance performances that you get to see these days. At first, it was quite a task to convince my parents to agree with my unknown uncharted venture. When I first started, there were no proper practice studios. Back then the songs were different than the songs nowadays. With the variations in the genres of songs and the singers, there also have been changes in the style of dances. For example, the kokborok dances these days have the aura of the folk dance and the tinge of western styles. Now apart from folk dances, western dances are also gaining popularity and acclaim. Such an amalgamation is the outcome of the changes that have occurred with time, and the change is worth it.
Borok TV: How does dance inspire you? And what do you achieve from it?
Sharmili: Dance is the essence of my life. I could literally say that I’ve been dancing since I was born! It helps me live life to the fullest. No matter how hard life may be or how stressful work is, dance helps me to overcome and relieve stress. It inspires me to be a better person and a better choreographer. Dance inspires me to strive for excellence. With every successive choreography, my skills home and I get to display my work and entertain audiences.
I achieve content, satisfaction, and happiness from it. Dance is something that soothes my soul, both when I’m dancing and choreographing. There is no greater joy and satisfaction to see and hear people applaud and commend my work. That’s what makes me happy. I feel contented when people are able to feel the emotions that I convey to them through my work, be it a sad and solemn performance that rhymes with the feelings of a melancholy person or the romantic performance that touches a person’s, heart.
Borok TV: What is the reason behind you got into dancing/choreography?
Sharmili: If I were to personify dance, she’d be my twin sister! Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved dancing, be it anywhere anytime. Dance is not just a part-time hobby, it’s my passion. As a child I recall myself to be so thrilled to hear songs playing that I’d be dancing the very next moment. Also, I was quite the stage performer back then! Unlike some kids of my age then I wasn’t a shy. Be it the neighbor’s wedding or a village concert, I’d always groove my feet to the music. But back then, there were no such platforms to nurture our hobbies or passions. Amidst all the barriers, I resolved that I could be a person who could endure the hardships and inflame my passion for dance and do something to promote our culture and rejuvenate Kokborok dances. As a career option, the choreographer is not a popular choice here in Tripura. I wanted to break the taboo and show people that one should follow their passion, and it would bring them success. I want to inspire people and show them that if dance is your dream than that dream will come true. I want to do something that everyone will aspire to do and turn their dreams into reality. If somebody wants to be a choreographer than he/she will be a successful one someday. That is what got me into choreography- A passion for following, and a determination to fulfill it.
Borok TV: How did you learn it? Who supported you? What were the difficulties that you faced?
Sharmili: Well I’ve been waiting to answer that! Since childhood, I’ve been a fan of Madhuri Dixit and it was so enthralling to see her movies and her dances. Her way of acting and her expressions were so endearing to look at, and being the child I was I’d try to imitate her performances. I’m also a big fan of Saroj Khan and I love her choreographies. Another source of inspiration is my mother herself. She’s taught me a lot about dance, and I really love seeing her dance. To be a choreographer, one would need to know the basics, so I did a 2-year diploma in folk dance after graduation. From my point of view, I’d say experience is the best teacher.
The road to being a choreographer isn’t a well-paved one. It’s filled with bubbles, trenches, and potholes. Persevering in such a competitive area is quite the mammoth task. It wouldn’t have been possible for me without stronghold supports. My parents were, are and will always be my biggest supporters. Their love, care, and support have brought me this far. I couldn’t have made it without them. They’ve always supported me in my choice and never nagged me. My relatives and my friends have been really supportive. My colleagues have also been great supporters.
Difficulties are an endless phenomenon. They’re meant to be there and provide a trial to us all. A lot of people often question us, “What are you doing?”, “This is completely useless!”, “People like you are ruining the youth and distracting them from their path”. We welcome constructive criticisms openly, but often the ones we face are of a much harsher nature. Above all that we’ve managed to propagate past such difficulties and here we are today.
Borok TV: What keeps you from not quitting dance, in other words: what inspires you to keep on dancing?
Sharmili: Frankly speaking, my sole passion for dance inspires me to continue doing my work. I can’t think of a day in a world when I wouldn’t dance. My passion for dance has brought me this far and this passion is the only one that’ll kindle my future and lead me forward. Everyone has a passion, don’t they? All we need to do is to believe that we can. Dance is a way of upholding our rich tradition and culture and I want to do that by promoting our folk dances. That’s the time when our society will develop and grow further. I want to show others that if dance is your passion, then make it your profession. There are lots who aspire to be choreographers. What I want to do is to show them that, yes, your dreams can come true. This is what inspires me every day.
Borok TV: What do you think is the key to success?
Sharmili: What I believe is that dedication and hard work for your goal, honesty to others and loyalty to everyone are the keys that open the door of success. These virtues have been an essential mantra to me. Apart from that, I believe that one’s love for one’s own work is also a determining factor of success in a field. In a domain of dance, I’d consider the fact that one should know what the audience wants and invent and be creative. That’s all it takes.
Borok TV: What is your favorite style of dance to perform?
Sharmili: I love and respect all dance styles, but I have a predisposition for our Indian dance forms, especially Kathak. Dances involving classical forms are my favorite. Aside from that, I love to perform and choreograph our very own Kokborok Folk dances as well as Modern dances.
Borok TV: Do you plan to do something with dance later in life, or is it just a hobby?
Sharmili: At first, it occurred to me as a hobby. Later I realized it had become a passion, which ultimately led me to become a choreographer. Yes, indeed. I do have plans to do something with dance later in life. I intend to open a Dance School/Academy in the near future and train budding aspiring talents and help them follow their passions.
Borok TV: You inspire others to dance too. Do you have any suggestions for the young dancers who want to follow in your footstep?
Sharmili: I’m delighted to know that I’ve been able to present my work to people and their love and appreciation show it all. I feel so happy when people say that they love my work and ask me to continue doing the good deed. People who attend my programs also comment me and tell me how their children love my choreographies. Those are really heart-warming and I feel happy.
For the budding dancers, I sure do have something to say. I can understand how young dancers would feel about dance because I’ve been through that. But dancing isn’t the only thing that’s important. Studies are as equally important as dance. One should not only just concentrate on developing one’s dance skills, but should also be well-educated. There is no alternative to education. Aspiring dancers should take initiative to enroll in dance academies, thus nurturing their talents and enriching their skills. They should indulge in extra-curricular activities that’ll help them sharpen their skills. The upcoming generations should learn the good virtues and courtesy. They should learn to behave well and live their life in a disciplined manner and respect each and everyone because they’re going to be the future members of the society. And there can be no success without it.
Borok TV: Besides choreography, you are also into direction & producing music videos these days. What is the reason behind it? Your recent release “Nono Khatango” was a massive hit. When can we expect another release?
Sharmili: Well, music video direction and production aren’t a new thing to me. I’ve been a producer before. The music album Miling Malang was produced by me in 2005. After that, I also produced the music video Swrwk Swrwk in 2007. I took a hiatus after that and I returned again this year with Nono Khatango. According to me, the choreography is not that different from direction. The choreography is in fact, a way of direction. I had my fingers crossed when Nono Khatango came out earlier last month. I wondered if the audience would like it or not. Thanks to my co-workers, it was a success and people appraised me.
Yes, we’re working on another music video. It’s scheduled for release in June, this year. We’ll be introducing a new couple, and hope that you’ll like their chemistry. The theme will incorporate love but will have a unique approach to it, with an added dance number.
Borok TV: You have a massive team in your dance troupe. How do you manage people with a different mindset? It must be a really tough job.
Sharmili: Yes! It is quite the mammoth task to handle such a troupe. As you know, my team Khathansa comprises of humongous numbers of members, it is a tough challenge to handle the dancers. The members vary from different ages, different mindsets who also are studying at different places all over the country. So arranging a meeting and attending practice sessions is quite a challenge. There are many members who have been with me for about 10 years and some who’re new. They’re so supportive amidst all their differences. They may be different in nature, mindset, and character, but what unites all of us together is our love for dance. I feel that they’re my own children and have a sense of responsibility towards them. Their love and patience for me are what makes me adore them, and I’d always want them to be a part and parcel of my life and continue to follow their passion for dance. I’d always support them, no matter how trivial the circumstances may be. I’d also like to thank the parents who’ve provided their consent and support to their children. Without their permission and never-ending backing, it wouldn’t have been possible to come this far. We organize charity dance events every year, and through this, we help the people in need and would like to continue doing this good deed.Thank you. Hambai.
We Would like to thank you, for giving your time to answers these lengthly questions . Hahaha 😀 . We also wish you and your team, very best for the upcoming works & projects.We hope to catch up with your team sometime very soon.