Dancer Sohum Deb on acing dance moves with expressions and eyes that speak, and what Pride means to him

Watch his video on the song Chor that went viral overnight, and dancer Sohum Deb will need no introduction
Sohum Deb
Sohum Deb

He is young, talented and captures hearts with every dance video he uploads. But those are things that have been said in the past. What’s unique about Sohum Deb is, his eyes speak and sparkle with honesty and innocence that’s rare to find. What is also special about Sohum is that he is changing the narrative of how Pride and art are perceived and tells us why his art should matter, not his sexuality, gender or preferences. As we come to the end of the Pride Month, Sohum’s narrative resonates with a lot of people and we are more than willing to listen in.

Redefining Pride without underplaying anything that it stands for, Sohum says his art is his pride and he wants to be known for it. He believes in normalising, questioning the need for him to identify himself into brackets. “I have attended Pride, and whatever I believe in is no way intended to offend anyone. I have a lot of friends from the LGBTQAI++ community, but I don’t want to fit myself into a community, because, you know, there’s a lot of divisions, spaces breaking into multiple segments, where people are trying to say ‘we are normal, they are not normal’. For me, it’s all about keeping my choices, whatever sexuality I prefer, to myself, because it’s personal. What I do in my bedroom shouldn’t affect anyone and is no one's business either. Most importantly, I want to be known as Sohum, a dancer, and if people were to judge, I just want them to judge me for my dance or for my deeds. I wouldn’t want to be judged for belonging to a particular community, and that brings me back to what I said earlier -- that I don’t want to be bracketed into any community, because then people will put a stamp on it,” Sohum says.

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He further explains, “And I think if someone is fighting for what they believe is normal, then you don’t need to segment it and shout out 'it’s normal!' For me, if it’s just normal, I don’t want to talk about it, because well, it is normal, right? ‘Straight’ (for the lack of a better term to explain) people don’t go around saying, ‘I’m straight’. Then why do I have to label myself; I don’t think I need to say that I’m gay, or I’m lesbian, or I'm bi-sexual… That’s not important at all. Those are not the things people need to know about me. I am a normal person leading a normal life.”

Not too long back, no one really knew this talented dancer. Until of course, one fine day, he woke up to likes and messages for a video he had uploaded. “It was Chor. I had no clue that Chor would click! I didn’t even like it when I shot it, and wasn’t sure about posting it. I was trying to do the piece similar to one dancer who had done it so gracefully; and I wasn’t happy with how my video turned out. But to my surprise, overnight, that video went viral! It was all new to me!” he shares.

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Sohum has, after Chor, posted many dance videos, and they have all been receiving a lot of love. Especially because Sohum emphasises on dance through expressions. He dances sitting, with his eyes doing most of the talking and his graceful hand movements lending poise to the choreography. They are all Sohum’s creations, and watching them one may think he is trained in Kathak, but he is not. “I have been dancing all my life. But I am from Shillong and there were no teachers there for the Indian classical dance forms. I used to dance every day at my home, in a corner. But one fine day, when I was watching Devdas and saw Madhuri Dixit dance, I knew that I wanted to learn Kathak. After my graduation, I moved to Hyderabad, and then started learning from a few teachers. Then of course, COVID happened, and I couldn’t continue. It’s been a year that I am back in Hyderabad now and I am looking to restart learning Kathak,” Sohum says.

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The dancer portrays many female characters in his videos, the latest ones being from Heeramandi, which have been receiving a lot of love. Kohled eyes, tinted lips, tresses cascading down his slender shoulders, Sohum paints a picture one can watch without a blink. “It was my sister who told me that I have a very strong female side, which is very elegant and graceful, and she said, ‘you should hold on to that because that would keep you grounded’. Also, I’ve seen my mom, my grandmom, who have been very strong women. I have actually always been surrounded by a lot of women. And I’ve learned a lot from them. So, when my sister said what she said, it made a lot of sense, and I thought, if I have it, I should nurture it,” Sohum says, as he adds, laughing, “Of course, I am not at all poised and graceful beyond the characters I portray.”

On a parting note, Sohum also tells us that one comment from someone special he is waiting for. "It's Madhuri Dixit! Forget 'likes' and 'comments', if any of my videos receives even a 'view' from her, I will be on cloud nine!"

Email: rupam@newindianexpress.com

X: @rupsjain

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