From being a gym instructor to winning MasterChef India’s third edition and now shaking a leg with girlfriend Shivangi Verma on Nach Baliye 6 — Ripudaman Handa’s journey has been varied, to say the least.
He is, however, quick to assure us where his heart lies.
“I only did Nach Baliye for Shivangi; it was a platform to spend more time with her, cooking is my true passion,” he says, with Shivangi chipping in to testify his dance skills, “I told him not to go because he’d get eliminated in the initial few weeks.
He only agreed to put his best foot forward for me,” she laughs.All of 24 years old and one of the youngest contestants on MasterChef, Ripudaman’s journey has been filled with challenges, both on and off the show, but he believes it was all worth it to win the top spot.
“I have listened to others all my life, and my mother would complain that I always listen to my friends over her. I wanted to do something for myself; my parents did not even know I auditioned for the show and only found out when I reached the top 12, but the risk definitely paid off,” says Ripudaman, in Chandigarh with Shivangi on Thursday.
“I didn’t sleep during the Chandigarh leg of the journey as I was up all night making chapattis at a gurdwara. I find rotis very hard to make,” he adds.
Ripudaman credits his brother and sister-in-law for supporting him both financially and emotionally through out.
The discerning factor that set him apart from other contestants, according to him, is that he followed his heart and not a recipe book.
“I always gave 10 minutes to think about my dish before every task and the next 50 minutes went in preparing the dish.
I think this habit of mine worked for me and judges too liked it,” says he. His dream is to cook for the award winning British chef Gordon Ramsay.
According to him, Nach Baliye was a little tougher than MasterChef, as his passion for cooking exceeds that of dancing.
“Nach Baliye is mental AND physical stress, and we had to rehearse 14 hours a day; in hindsight, cooking seems easier. Initially, I was also a lot more shy and hesitant to face the camera whilst dancing.”
Even though Shivangi, 23, loves dancing, it wasn’t all that easy for either one of them. “Both me and Ripudaman are from a non-dancing and non-acting background, so that definitely made things a little harder for us both,” says Shivangi.
Though having made it to the final stages, it’s clear that he can shake a leg just as well as he can whip up a meal.