Sunday, December 03, 2006

Inspirational and Heart Touching Story of a Dancer

I received this very inspiring story in my email a few days back which I would like to share it with you. How would you expect someone with a leg amputated and yet still make it big in dancing? She did it and inspire others. More Power to you!

Sudha Chandran, a classical dancer from India, was cut off in the prime of her career - quite literally - when her right leg had to be amputated after a car accident.

The dancer was 17 when tragedy struck. Her right leg was badly injured in a traffic accident and had to be amputated below the knee when gangrene set in. The tragedy was all the more poignant as Sudha was on the verge of beginning a glittering career in Baratha Natyam, one of the most exacting forms of Indian classical dance. Sudha's world crumbled. She felt that all the years of training had gone to waste and in any case what kind of life was it to be without a leg. The reality that she would never dance again was too much to cope with, she simply did not want to live.

During the six month recuperation period after surgery she became obsessed with the idea of walking again but without crutches. By chance she picked up a magazine and read about Dr Sethi and his famous Jaipur foot and immediately made an appointment to see him. This was in December 1981.

The first question she asked of him was 'will I dance again?'. His reply without hesitation was 'why not'. They tried out various options including a spring loaded ankle fitting for more flexibility essential for the intricate footwork required in Baratha Natyam. The spring was not successful as it kept jamming during practice. For the next round of fittings Sudha brought her dance teacher along.

For twenty days Dr Sethi and his team watched the two working together. In the end they fitted her with the same Jaipur foot and limb that was given to any other amputee who came to the rehabilitation centre at the SMS Hospital in Jaipur.

Sudha's dance practice resumed in earnest. It was like starting all over again. She persevered through pain, blood, tears and doubts. Her family, teacher and doctor stood by her in this ordeal. It was worth it, for in 1984, she danced again for the first time in front of a capacity Bombay audience. After paying obeisance to the Lord of Dance she started and finished to thunderous applause two and a half hours later. Overnight she had become a celebrity and a star was born. She was feted in the press.

She starred in a feature film 'Mayure' her life story, and it was an instant box office 'Bollywood' hit. Other offers of stardom and many dance recitals followed. She acted in many films and was invited to perform all over the world, living proof that the Jaipur foot works and became its most ardent ambassador.

She now lives and works in Bombay. Her heavy work schedule as leading lady and star of numerous TV soaps leaves very little time for dancing, she can only manage one or two dance recitals a year. She has come a long way from the young girl wanting to end it all to a mature woman who considers that fateful accident a blessing in disguise. Her story, much simplified, is also featured in a Standard Three reader for every primary school going child in India.

It truly shows that nothing is impossible in this world. If you have the will you can achieved anything in this world!
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