choreographer turns into tea seler
National News

From Bollywood To Roadside Tea Stall: Pandemic Crisis Of An Odia Choreographer

Lives of innumerable people have gone topsy-turvy ever since the entire country went under lockdown in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in March. Many lost their breadwinning jobs, while others were forced to take up new means for survival.

Once aiming to make a name for Odias in Bollywood, Sauling Padhiali of P Nuagaon in Ganjam district had to take the toughest decision of his life- quit his dream and return back because of the pandemic. His story of crisis from being a choreographer in Mumbai to selling tea on his village street to eke out a living sums it all.

He was earning well enough to keep his five-member family contented and had earned quite a name in Bollywood, Ollywood, and even in Jollywood with his choreography.

29-year-old Sauling Padhiali was born in Gujarat. He lost his father at a tender age of 10 and was raised by his mother Budhi, who had to struggle to make ends meet.

Sauling was fascinated towards dance since childhood and as he grew up, he learned dancing from a Gujarat based teacher. Gradually, people noticed his talent which got him a break in Hindi and Odia films.

However, with everything shut after the announcement of nation-wide lockdown, Sauling was left jobless. He managed to take care of his family for some months with the savings he had but later decided to return to his ancestral village in Ganjam after he ran out of resources.

Since there was not much visibility, Sauling had to choose a footpath and started selling ‘rabidi’ tea in the roadside tea-stall near his village. Nowadays, he is earning a profit of around Rs 200-300 per day from his shop thanks to the craze for his ‘rabidi’ tea.

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“I was earning well enough through dance. As studios and programs were closed due to the pandemic, I was forced to return to village and sell tea to earn something for survival,” said a disheartened Sauling.

In 2017, Sauling choreographed for ‘Hare Krishna Hare Rama’ track in ‘Commando 2’, which was his first break in Bollywood. He also worked for two Odia films-‘Bindas’ and ‘Jaga Hatare Pagha’. He had also assisted as a leading choreographer in the Odia movie- ‘Sundergarh Ra Salman Khan’. Sauling is also well known for his work in jatra industry and Odia albums.

“He is a talented choreographer and has garnered fame by working in Hindi and Odia films. He has also choreographed for Jatras and operas. However, he had to return to Odisha after the Covid-19 lockdown,” said a local of Beguniapda, Debendra Moharana.

“I often taste the earthen pot rabidi tea prepared by him and it’s fantastic. It is heart-breaking to see that being a choreographer, he is selling tea here,” said a customer.