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Bend it like KUTTY!

Dancing with one leg? Yes...battling against odds, a Chennai youth has pursued his passion, says PRINCE FREDERICK


TWENTY-YEAR-OLD Kutty has indeed put his best foot forward which happens to be his left one. As a matter of fact, that is the only foot he has. He has no right leg. He does not wear an artificial leg as there is little limb below the place where the head of the thigh-bone fits into the socket of the ilium. What makes one take notice of Kutty is that he has struck gold in an activity that is practically out of bounds for a one-legged man like him - stage-dancing.

One of five brothers, Philip Brewtman Das, alias Kutty, has always wanted to be a film dancer. With support from his big brother Solomon, a film dancer, he seemed well on course to realise this dream. But fate put the wrench into the works. In 1998, Kutty lost his right leg in a road accident while vacationing in Kumbakonam, his native town.

While Kutty had been gregarious to a fault before the accident, after this cruel twist of fate he retreated into a shell. But in those hours of silent brooding, he was planning something astoundingly remarkable. Not even his parents and siblings had the faintest idea as to what it was.

"I remember the day clearly. The year was 1999. It was Vinayaka Chaturthi. Our street (Mosque Street in Vadapalani) wore a festive look. Song and dance programmes on makeshift stages continued without any let-up. It was then the unbelievable happened. Kutty had hobbled on to the street and he was dancing on one leg. It was such a beautiful performance that the people were struck with wonder. They lavished praise on him, but we were speechless. We were crying for joy," remembers Stanley, another of Kutty's brothers.

Soon, Kutty wanted to put his amazing talent to the acid test. He wanted to perform on stage. And he did, with aplomb. At events, he was the unchallenged hero. Though one leg less, his talent made him look larger than life. Kutty would dance to songs (such as Bharatiyar's `Acham illai, Acham illai') that are meant to evoke an emotion. To thunderous applause.

Though his stage shows were well-received, his dream of dancing in films seemed hopelessly distant. But he did not sulk or lose heart. He displayed an amazing firmness of purpose - he kept on with his stage performances.

One such performance turned the tide - as luck would have it, Kutty performed at a function that filmmaker KR happened to preside over.

Kutty's wait was over. KR told the young dancer that he would be in his next film. Not just as a dancer, but as its central character.

That is the story of how Kutty "travelled" from the stage to the screen. On just one leg.

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