Mission Delhi – Kanchan Patwa, South Delhi Garden
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Long hair. Same-same dresses. And all three are dancing together this morning in a corner of this south Delhi public park.
As if fairies had taken over a secret spot, thinking no one else was around.
The young women laugh. “No, I want to be a YouTuber,” says one of them, clearly the group leader. But Kanchan Patwa corrects herself immediately. “I’m already a YouTuber… I have my own channel with lakhs of followers.”
Kanchan currently has 219K subscribers on her YouTube channel. She is a dancer, and lands up daily in one of the very many Delhi destinations (Connaught Place, Dilli Haat, Lodhi Road, Puste Paar, etc.), where she makes short videos of herself dancing to film songs, later uploading them on her YouTube channel.
“My dream is to make my channel more successful, with millions of followers… it should become so wildly popular that (film) heroes and heroines should want to dance with me.”
At 23, when everything might seem possible, Kanchan is hopeful. A commerce graduate, she doubles up as a tuition teacher to “paas-paros” (neighbourhood) kids “in all subjects” to fund her daily travels—she doesn’t want that burden to fall on her parents with whom she lives in north east Delhi’s Shastri Park. “ I also give dance classes in Bollywood free style to youngsters and ladies of the neighbourhood.”
Kanchan’s parents are supportive of her endeavors, “but sometimes Papa gets worried about who will marry me if I dance so much.” He runs a wedding cards shop in Chawri Bazar.
Everyday, Kanchan leaves for shoots to scenic markets by 8 am, so that “I can complete the shooting while the shops are still closed.” She often operates alone (and mostly dances barefoot) but today she is with her elder sister, Kirti, and a friend, Divya, who is in 10th standard. “My school is closed due to the coronavirus,” Divya says. She also lives in Shastri Park.
It took the three women about two hours to get here from their home. “We first took an auto, then the metro, and then we booked an Uber,” says Kanchan. Referring to their identical dresses, she says, “We got these from a footpath stall in Bhajanpura… the skirt was for 300 rupees.”
Now Divya holds the phone—the shoots are always done through Kanchan’s mobile phone camera—and the other two hold hands and start to dance.
[This is the 398th portrait of Mission Delhi project]