A dancer, actor, director, producer and choreographer, our very own Mahesh Kumar Hiremath or Mahi as he is popularly called, is just out of his teens, but loves to shake a leg, the Bollywood way.
But ask him and he says, “The Bollywood jig is just an excuse to get people hooked into Indian classical dance. I am more into Kalaripayattu, Indian folk dance, Bharatanatyam and classical stuff,” he says.
So the idea is to begin with a Bollywood number and get the audience on their feet. And then get them into Kathakali and Bharatanatyam.
Couple of months back, Mahi’s show, Bollywood Fusion, at the Jewish Commercial Centre in Palo Alto, California had over 120 dancers performing Bollywood, Bharatanatyam, Kalari and Indian contemporary, Salsa, Hip-hop, and Western dance. The well known Teresa Cox, Trade Advisor to Obama Administration, was the chief guest at the show.
The show had a purpose; it helped raise funds for Sahaita Foundation, an India-based NGO, and Sarvaguna, an NGO based in the US, for organising free medical camps to the poor in both the countries.
Been there, done that Mahi has performed shows for the world’s best companies like Facebook and LinkedIn, performed for San Francisco’s basketball team, Giants in January and was part of Utsav Show, presented by Star Plus.
Currently, Mahi is in Bangalore to attend the Indian International Dance Congress (IIDC) and is impressed with the buzzing dance scene here. "The dancing scenario in the city has changed and it is definitely good times for people like me to be here," he says.
The dance journey
Right from when he was a four-year-old, Mahi took a fancy for dance and was trained by veteran Abilash Ningappa in Kalari. Mahi’s forte is Kalaripayattu and Navarasa (Bharatanatyam) and he specialises in the ancient temple dance form called Shringara Nrityam.
Recalling his early days, Mahi says he first got his feet in at Shiamak Davar’s dance class. Folk dances were his first love, but he went on to evolve and experiment with diametrically different forms. Like, he learnt Salsa from Eddie and is also a internationally certified Salsa dancer. Along the way, he extended his repertoire to Latin, Jazz, hip hop… and more.
Mahi shot to limelight in the dance reality show, ‘Sye to Dance’. The show’s judge was Prabhu Deva and Mahi admits to having a few goose bumps initially. Mahi danced his way to the semi-finalist stage. And he went on to play lead roles in TV serials.
After his stint in TV, Mahi took to film making and went on to do a course in digital film making from the San Francisco School of Digital Film Making.
Mahi has trained and worked with several big names in the field of dance. With Lourd Vijay of the LVDS Team, he groomed himself in Kalaripayattu, contemporary dance, jive, Salsa and of course Bollywood. Lourd Vijay, a Latin cultural music and dance artist, is the Guinness world record holder for the maximum number of swing dance flips in a minute.
Rajesh Nair, a veteran dance choreographer who has given more than 1000 stage shows, was his mentor in the reality show, Sye to Dance. Mahi has also worked with Richard Tholoor, international Salsa champion, Abhilash Ningappa, his guru, and Shiamak Davar among others.
“Bollywood is a mix of so many dance forms; Indian, Western, classical, and contemporary. My own take is that we have blended everything together and packaged it in a way that will appeal to the masses,” he says. According to Mahi, it was this mix and match that appealed to him and inspired him to come up with his own inventive moves. “My dance is focused on the ancient temple dance form which is an element of Bharatanatyam,” he says.