World beyond dance: French directors making documentary on choreographer Terence Lewis

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New Delhi : French directors Pierre X. Garnier and Jose Revault are working on a documentary which traces the life of ace choreographer Terence Lewis as a man in his 40s and follows his move to step away from the world of dance for acting.

Lewis met the directors -- the founders of 7eme Lune, the International Film Festival of Rennes for young directors in France -- during his vacation in Corsica in 2016. He hid his identity, but they discovered about him through social media.

"I was pleasantly surprised when they told me that they want to do a documentary because I was very curious to, first of all, know why they want to do a documentary as I have already shot for lots of television shows where a lot of my life has been captured, especially the BBC show 'Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai'.

"I have also spoken about my life quite a lot of times to newspapers, channels and there have been lots of stories about from where I come from and how and where I have reached here," Lewis told IANS in an email.

So, he wasn't keen to add one more story.

"But they explained to me that, 'We were not interested in your story (going) from rags to riches because that's already been kind of documented. We don't want to talk about your success, films, TV shows or any other things that are already there. We want to talk about all the things I shared with them in Corsica on a one-on-one'... They found my personal talk with them very interesting."

The dance guru says the documentary is "different from the regular" ones.

"It is a little bit more internal, in the head and deep... It is not about me talking about my success, my laurels or how amazing my journey is... It is about me as a person now in the present --- what are the challenges I am facing as a man in 40s, as a person who is also moving from dance and taking a step... into films as an actor and writer... so it is that journey that they want to chronicle."

They have shot around 40 per cent and, technically, "need to have 60 hours of footage to make it into a documentary series". The makers are now crowdfunding to shoot the latter part of the film and for post-production. They need to raise around Rs 700,000.

"What started as a simple project has now become a full-fledged project and we are on Wishberry this month, urging people to help us make the film to just cover the basic expenses of shooting, editing and camera...I hope we are able to reach the target."

Lewis is hopeful that the documentary will be out next year.

He runs the Terence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company and specialises in Indian folk, contemporary and neo-classical dance forms. He has even choreographed international stage shows, Bollywood shows, Broadway Western musicals and music videos. He became popular as a mentor and judge on "Dance India Dance".

What was his first reaction to the documentary project?

"I was like 'Oh my God, that's bit scary' as I spoke to them like friends... Like sharing my life about things that were beyond my films and work. I spoke to them about my personal quest... how I was searching for meaning in my life and the philosophies that combine us, politics to history.

"They were like, 'We want to talk about many things that are going on in your head' because they found my philosophy -- and a certain aspect of my questioning and reasoning things and embracing certain aspects of life -- very interesting.

"They wanted to present this kind of an Indian man, a thinking Indian man with certain questions about life, to the Western universe and they said it is very important for an Indian voice to be heard. And they were very curious about new India and (the) conversations that are happening between the traditional and conventional and politics and history."

Lewis said they were interested in the artistic and cultural changes that are happening in India, and to know how he perceived India as opposed to the Western form, what are the difficulties, strengths of living in a country like this.

He also shared with them his thoughts on nationality, region and ethnicity, apart from a lot about life and the ways people are dealing with relationships, choices, why we are the way we are.

(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at