‘My parents wanted me to join the army & were shocked that I wanted to become a nachaniya’
He is famous as the ‘King of Slow Motion’ in the world of dance. His stage name ‘Crockroaxz’ best describes his dancing style — as powerful as a crocodile and as swift as a cockroach. Raghav Juyal needs no introduction, his moves and grooves speak for him. The actor dancer recently visited the Bombay Times office, and showed off his talent. And guess what, it’s not just his dance moves that are effortless; he’s a smooth talker, too.
Better known for his flawless reinvention of the slow-motion walk, Raghav comes from a small town in Uttarakhand and draws inspiration from nature. He says, “I have performed a lot of dance forms, but I got popular because of slow motion. I have copied and got inspired by a lot of dances that I have seen and I am not scared to admit that.”
However, as they say, the journey is always more fascinating than the destination. So, how did it all begin? He tells us, “My mother tells me that I started dancing even before I learnt how to walk. I draw inspiration from nature trails and walks — I can choreograph a dance step by watching the manner in which a leaf falls; everything has a distinct form and movement. The slo-mo dance, too, is an outcome of observing nature. I perfected the technique by following international dancers on the internet, but my actual training began in Mumbai.”
However, it was no ‘moonwalk’. Raghav, who’s currently hosting Dance Champions, had to fight against several odds to realise his dreams. He recalls, “My parents were against me pursuing dance.
So, I quit it for a while and joined school unions. I would often end up picking fights, as I didn’t know how else to release pent-up energy. I started staying away from my parents from Class IX because of their lack of support. However, I would still practise dance away from their eyes. After a lot of arguments, they finally allowed me to audition for Dance India Dance in Delhi. They wanted me to either join the army or study law and were shocked that I wanted to become a nachaniya. Things are better now and I have started visiting my parents. I love it there, I prefer it to the city life.”
I was dyslexic and couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t able to calculate numbers. That’s how I tilted towards dance and nautanki: Raghav Juyal
While he has mended fences with his parents, Raghav still has bones to pick with our education system. He says, “I was first exposed to racism in a school in Dehradun. While ‘A’ section consisted of studious children, I was in the ‘B’ section which comprised average students. I was baffled by this arrangement. Another problem was that I was dyslexic and my mother had to take me for counselling. As a child, I couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t able to calculate numbers. In fact, I still can’t do calculations. That’s how I tilted towards dance and nautanki. I was a notorious child and hence, would get punished both at school and home. In fact, I was rusticated from many schools. Today, however, the same schools proudly flaunt that I am their alumni (laughs).”
After carving a niche for himself as a dancer, Raghav took up hosting, where he displayed his comic timing. And now, he is pursuing films. Ask him if his unconventional looks serve as an impediment and he says, “A casting director told me that I need to have well-built body. I am a rebel and I argued with him, but I joined a gym. However, I could not continue beyond a month. I think the concept of fitness is very wrong in our society. I want to be naturally fit with that unconventional touch. I don’t want to do the conventional things that are expected from an actor. You are beautiful as you are. I remain fit by climbing the stairs of my 30-floor building and doing push-ups.”
On the personal front, the dancer-actor is taken. He has been in a relationship for the past three years. “My girlfriend is from Europe and is pursuing theatre there. We meet just twice or thrice a year. It’s indeed difficult to maintain a long-distance relationship, but our love is very strong,” he says.