Sometimes life brings you full circle just to show you how much you have grown. Breakdancer Ashif Khan’s life changed in a similar way.
The 24-year-old had a tough time with the family surviving on his father’s meagre earnings as a kabadiwala and constant migration across several areas of Delhi-NCR, including Palam, Goyla Dairy Slum, Najafgarh, and Batla House. But Khan found a way out of poverty, and now doles out tips and tricks of breaking culture (break dance) to slum children for free.
“I realised dance is my calling while rehearsing the Bollywood song ‘Tera Hi Jalwa’ for the school function. I was just 12, and that performance became a hit with the students and teachers,” remembers Khan, now an assistant Media & Production Coordinator with Khoj International Artists’ Association (KHOJ) in Malviya Nagar.
Mostly, talent is forced to give in to financial issues or societal pressure. “Goyla Dairy was a Muslim area, and the locals did not accept my dancing. I used to wear bracelets and long tshirts, and the maulvi ji would often reprimand me, saying, “ye naach gana karna achi baat nahi hai. Hatho mein choodiyan kyun pehen rakhi hain? (Dancing and singing are not good. Why have you worn bangles [bracelets] on your hands?)”, he adds.
To fit in, he changed his looks but the passion for dancing was still there. In 2010, a breakdancer called Amit introduced him to the breakdancing. “For the next five years, we got commissioned to perform at events and clubs in Rajouri Garden. But we only got free food and conveyance, no money,” remembers Khan, who looks up to B Boys Lilou and Hong 10.
After graduating in BA from Jamia Millia Islamia, he started working with DTDC as a delivery boy for Rs 10,000 a month. “I used to go to Khoj to pick up and deliver packages. There, I would practice with other kids, and one day, the people from Khoj told me they were looking for street artists for a cultural exchange programme. I joined it, got selected, and was sent to the US for 18 days in July 2018,” adds Khan.
After coming back, he searched for a job that allowed him more time for dancing, and again Khoj came to his rescue.
Now, he teaches dance to the kids as his way of giving back to society. He also founded Instagram and Facebook pages like India Breaking Culture, Delhi Breaking Culture, where he posts pictures and videos showcasing the young breaking talent from the mohallas of Delhi. “I don’t have the power to give them a bigger platform, but by doing small activities with them that I can post and share on my pages, I can motivate them to look beyond their penury and have a goal,” says B Boy Shif aka Khan.
POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Khan has founded Instagram and Facebook pages like India Breaking Culture, Delhi Breaking Culture, where he posts pictures and videos showcasing the young breaking talent from the mohallas of Delhi