‘I loved dancing in front of the mirror’

Actor Shibani Dandekar talks about her journey to stardom and the need to be true to oneself.

Shibani Dandekar

As a child, I always loved dressing up and dancing in front of the mirror. Those were very private moments for me because I shied away from any kind of public attention. I still remember that my father would make me perform in front of a small audience on the terrace of our house just to help me overcome my shyness. 

I was very drawn to fashion and music in my younger days. I would blend these two arts to come up with something of my own. However, my creativity was on display only in front of the mirror; it somehow always made me feel confident.

That paid off when I enrolled into a dance academy and trained in dance through school and college. I was part of the college dance team and before I realised it, I was performing on several stages and giving at least one or two stage performances in a week. No wonder dance was a natural part of my film.

I still remember when I first watched myself on the big screen for the first time, it seemed a little surreal. I realised that I had grown up enjoying the arts and dance was an integral part of my life. But I hadn’t ever imagined that it would become more than just a hobby and turn into a full-fledged career. I felt a sense of achievement at that time though. 

Over the years, I am grateful that I am able to wake up every morning and do a job that I truly love. There are good and bad sides to being an actor. The worst part is that one doesn’t get enough time to spend with one’s family. However, I’ve realised that I am in a zone that many people dream of and not many are able to get into.

I’ve slowly understood that stardom is not a natural progression and doesn’t come to everyone. I am grateful for every opportunity and know the responsibility that I have in hand. 

There are a few lessons that I have learnt over the years and one of them is to accept who you are. There was a time when I struggled with my weight and my acne issues. But once I started owning them and accepting them, I began dealing with them in a much better way.

I began making an effort to get fit. Keeping it real and being who you are two important things that can take you a long way. 

Another thing to keep in mind is realising the fact that I am in a space where one is being watched all the time. You have to watch what you say and also be presentable at all times.

But when I am in a space of my own then I let go of myself. There are a few things that I used to do in my childhood that I continue even to this day. When I am by myself, I sing at the top of my voice, turn off the lights and dance. This gives me a lot of positive energy and is a great stress reliever.

I have met many youngsters who aspire to be actors and one thing that I constantly tell them is to work hard towards achieving their goal after they’ve set their mind on it. Looking back, I feel that had I set my aim to become an actor a little early on in my life, I would have worked towards it and been better at my craft. 

I have also understood that it’s not about how many follow you on social media or how big a star you are. What truly matters is that you must always aim to be a better person than you already are. Just be true to yourself and focus on your craft. 

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‘I loved dancing in front of the mirror’

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