Rajesh Mudki: “Hard Work Pays Off!”

by December 1, 2018 0 comments

Becoming the only indian to be associated with Cirque du Soleil, Rajesh Mudki tells Chahak Mittal how his hard work helped him traverse struggles.

India has always been a hub of sports and has harboured a well-entrenched tradition of indigenuous games — gilli-danda, kho-kho, teen-patti, kanche, kabaddi, mallakhamb, pahalwani or even shatranj. A believer and practitioner of this is Rajesh Mudki, a mallakhamb artist from Santa Cruz, who was introduced to the traditional Indian sport at a tender age of six. This is a sport in which a gymnast performs yoga aerially by keeping a grip on a vertical stationary or hanging wooden pole, cane, or hanging rope. The artist is now all set to deliver a power-packed performance with other international artists in the Canadian company Cirque Du Soleil’s current production Bazzar, debuting in India.

If you ask Rajesh about what it takes to be a mallakhamb artist and prepare for it, he will tell you that all it takes is a sportsman spirit that an artist should never leave as well as a lot of “concentration that would only help one to analyse and plan out things for the future.” He adds, “It’s after many years of practice, many bone-breaking experiences and body aches that you reach a certain level of expertise.”

The artist has also showcased his talent at the reality show India’s Got Talent, grabbing eyeballs and gaining applause. He believes that such shows provide a huge platform to aspiring artists. “It’s not only a tool to showcase your talent and reach out to masses, but also a stage to boost your confidence. I never thought about sports seriously. But soon I realised that it is something that can help reach a large audience,” says Rajesh.

Indeed, art connects you to a larger part of the society  domestically and also globally. He feels that in 27 years of his practice, countless tournaments and championships, there was only one thing that was lacking — “taking mallakhamb outside the country.” It was only after he relieved his highest award, Shiv Chhatrapati Award, that he decided to take the sport to  global frontiers. “My team and I started thinking about what and how we take it forward. We started a website to create awareness about the sport through it,” he says.

However, success still didn’t knock at his doors as there were no responses. He didn’t hear from anybody for a year and then they finally started getting some queries. “We then started teaching them through online classes and people began inviting us to their countries and cultural programs.”

Since the act doesn’t involve any traditional musical elements, Rajesh stringed his performance to a few beats to give it an entertaining touch when he performed it at the reality TV show.

Talking about how he joined Cirque’s Bazzar, he tells us that the company first contacted Rajesh during December 2017. “I had applied there but never received a response until last year. They told me that they wanted me to join their team of acrobats and gymnasts. That is how all the talks and experiences began,” says he, adding, “It was surreal. I have always followed Cirque. I saw it as a great opportunity to bring alive my dream of making the sport international.”

He believes that with time, the prominence and popularity of the act has surely “increased.” When he began, not many people knew about it or attempted to learn it. Now that it is being performed and viewed by so many people, “there has been a lot of dialogue around it. We started with theatrical performances and championships, I am sure people noticed. That is a great development.”

He says that while practising for Cirque, there have been both tears and smiles, “We have cried and laughed. We have had broken bones, but hardly did we let our spirits break down. No matter how difficult the elements were, we kept calm and smiled to entertain the audience.” The artist has an indomitable spirit that says that the show must go on!

(Cirque Du Soleil’s performances in Delhi will begin in December.)

Writer: Chahak Mittal

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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