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Actor Dharmesh Yelande says he dropped out of college at 19 and worked as a peon, reveals his father still runs a tea stall

Dancer, choreographer and actor Dharmesh Yelande’s career took off after he participated in the second season of Dance India Dance, but his journey has been anything but easy. In a new interview, he talked about the financial hardships faced by his family during his growing up years.

Fond of dancing from an early age, Dharmesh would sit in front of the television and imitate Govinda. He was not deterred by the lack of space in their house; he would go out on the streets and dance to his heart’s content.

“Our lives turned upside down when the municipality demolished Papa’s shop. So he opened up a tea stall–he’d make 50-60 Rs a day; feeding a family of four was tough. But Papa always said, ‘Padhai kabhi nahi chodni chahiye’; he saved every penny for our school fees,” he told Humans of Bombay.

Despite their financial condition, Dharmesh’s father took notice of his talent and signed him up for dance classes after he won a dance competition in the sixth grade. “But my grades dropped. I was 19 when I quit college. I started working as a peon & taught dance to kids–I’d make 1600 Rs a month. After, I’d rush to dance practice. But as I advanced to the senior batch, I quit my job & took up dance full-time. Around then, I worked as a backup dancer in a film–on set, I knew that’s where I was meant to be,” he said.

In order to make his Bollywood dreams come true, Dharmesh moved to Mumbai. He participated in the dance reality show Boogie Woogie, ended up winning and cleared his father’s debts with the prize money of Rs 5 lakh. However, this did not translate into lead roles in films, and after two years, he ran out of money and moved back home.

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Things changed for Dharmesh a few months later, when he auditioned for Dance India Dance. Though he did not walk away with the trophy, it catapulted him to fame overnight and got choreography opportunities as well as offers for guest appearances on dance shows.

Dharmesh’s dream of becoming a lead actor came true when Remo D’Souza offered him a role in ABCD : Any Body Can Dance, which was a sleeper hit at the box office. “With my earnings, I bought a house for my family but still, Papa runs the same tea stall. I told him, ‘You don’t have to work anymore.’ But he refuses. I think I’ve gotten this never-give-up attitude from him. Because even though there were hurdles, I just followed my heart,” he said.

Earlier this year, Dharmesh was seen alongside Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Nora Fatehi and Prabhudeva in Street Dancer 3D. He will be seen next in Safalta 0 km, which marks his debut in Gujarati films.

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