The Boy Who Dared to Dream- The Journey of Salman Yusuff Khan
‘The Harder the Struggle, The More Glorious The Triumph.’ This phrase is most applicable to inspiring journey of Dance India Dance Winner (Season 1), Lead Actor of the hit franchise, ABCD and now Celebrity Challenger of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa 2016, SALMAN YUSUFF KHAN.
A 23 year old aspiring dancer Salman, in his last year of engineering and a few days away from his final examinations, decided to quit the dream of becoming a professional dancer. Hailing from a conservative middle class Muslim family in Bangalore, Salman knew that this dream could never turn into a reality, given that he wanted to help his father who was close to retirement, get his sister married, and contribute to the household with a 9 to 5 job.
His family was always apprehensive of his dancing career and had not even seen him dance! However, a phone call from his then choreographer who informed him that a format like So You Think You Can Dance called ‘Dance India Dance’ is coming to India and he must audition, proved to be a game changer of a phone call. Salman’s friends, his then girlfriend and now wife, his cousins dissuaded him and told him to focus on his exams, get a job and get his life sorted.
He only had once cousin in his close knit group, who said to him, ‘If you go into this, you will come out a winner because only you, from all us, have it in you to make this happen, do not give up, Go For It.’ And that is exactly what Salman did, he cleared the Bangalore auditions while giving his exams simultaneously, without telling anyone anything. The final round of auditions were taking place in Mumbai, between his exam dates, and Salman had no money for a ticket or even a place to stay. He took his mother into confidence, who paid for the ticket and with Rs. 2000 in his pocket, he came to Mumbai. Finding a hotel was an ordeal as he could not afford anything, a kind rickshaw driver took him to a lodge inside Bandra Station and that is where he stayed while auditioning for DID, at Rs. 500 per night.
Salman cleared his exams, became an engineer that his family always wanted but the icing on the cake was that he got selected as a finalist for DID as well. When he broke this news to his father, he was not very happy with him going but when the first episode of DID aired and his father saw Salman perform effortlessly and wow the judges, he called him and said, “You are amazing and I am proud of you. You have to win this one and come home.” The call was all the motivation that young Salman needed and win DID is what he did! Following that, Remo D’souza took Salman under his wing, even gave him place in his house stay for 3 months, got him on board as an assistant director for Faltu and offered him a dream role in ABCD.
Salman reminiscences about his struggling days and says that, “I had no money for good food during the three months of shooting for DID and Remo Sir and his wife Lizele would take us all out on weekends and I would wait for those nights, that was the highlight and angels like him do exist. I would have dreams like owing a sports bike some of my friends had in college, which the cost ran into lakhs but I never found those dreams silly and now they are true! I worked very hard towards achieving them and they were pure and they have all come true. I am a true believer in Allah and I think He has made these dreams into my reality and I think it is important to always thank God for what we have. A big role in my life is also played by my parents, Remo Sir, my wife, people’s love and blessings that I am here today, from a nobody to a somebody.”
Salman has been one of the strongest choreographers in Jhalak Dikhla Jaa since (2011) season 4, and each year he and his partner have made it to the final rounds, he even won the 6th season with Drashti Dhami. This year, the offering was different and even bigger than it has ever been before. The makers approached him, not to be the choreographer but as a celebrity challenger which adds yet another feature to his illustrious hat. This year will be special, not because his journey has evolved to a contestant but because it will be his first time competing in Jhalak as a father. His dream for this one is to have his son in the crowd, though being a few months old only, he is sure that he will not understand much. If little Hamdan takes after his father, we can sure hope to see his first dancing moves on National television soon! Here is to a man who Dared to Dream, Never Gave Up and is here to rock the Jhalak Dikhla Jaa stage once again!