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Daddy, daddy cool

Choreographer Soparrkar on being the first single Indian male to adopt a child

Daddy, daddy cool

Sandip Soparrkar celebrates Father’s Day with his sons Arjun and Kabir.



Renu Sud Sinha

He was all of 16 when well-known choreographer Sandip Soparrkar decided to have a child who was not his ‘apna khoon’. “My aunt had adopted a little girl and I was smitten. I asked my mom to also adopt a baby. She refused, saying, ‘I don’t have patience for another one. You can do it when you grow up.’ I literally held on to that,” recalls Soparrkar (59), who teaches Latin American and ballroom dances.

At 21, when Soparrkar wanted to actualise his dream, he soon realised that both the law as well as reality would not permit it. “I found that a single man could adopt a child only at or after the age of 30, while a single woman could do so 18 onwards. I still don’t find any logic in it though,” says the much awarded artist, recipient of three National Excellence Awards and a National Achievement Award.

He waited till he turned 30. Settled in his career, an emotionally and financially secure Soparrkar started his journey again. “For most people, family resistance is their first hurdle. For me, the struggle was beyond that.”

Now that the law was in his favour, society, its perceptions and attitude were not. “How can a single man take care of a child?” The question became an insurmountable wall at every orphanage he visited across India. As no single man had ever exercised the adoption law, no orphanage was even ready to accept his application for adoption and file on Soparrkar’s behalf. “Finally, in 2003, after over two years, an orphanage in Mumbai, Bal Anand, agreed to file my application,” says the dancer, who has choreographed for films like ‘Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji’, ‘Kites’, ‘Mangal Pandey’, ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ and many other Bollywood hits in a career spanning nearly three decades.

Besides his gender, there were many other things that went against him. “My celebrity status emerged as a major obstacle. Because I was part of the glamour industry, questions would be raised about my morality, my affairs, my break-ups, as if these things didn’t happen to other people,” says Soparrkar, recalling his four-year-long legal battle.

Finally, Soparrkar was able to bring his eldest son, Arjun, home in 2007. “He was about a year-and-a-half old. Now he’s 19 and studying engineering. It has been tough being a single parent. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. Till Class 6, I would take Arjun along while travelling across the world. He has been to 34 countries till date.”

In 2020, Soparrkar brought home his second child, Kabir, who is differently-abled. “Both my sons love each other,” he says.

Soparrkar’s battles have resolved many bureaucratic tangles for other single parents. “When I applied for Arjun’s passport in 2007, it was a long wait as they had to change the system to process it without the mother’s name. It took me just three weeks for Kabir.”

The biggest challenge has been balancing a professional life of glamour and a normal one at home for the artist, for whom a child born out of heart is more special than the one with his DNA. Soparrkar, who has been the brand ambassador for Catalysts For Social Action, an NGO that promotes adoptions in India, a loving single-parent home is better than no home. He wants to provide such a home to more kids. “I am trying to adopt an African kid and then I will look for more adoptions from other Asian countries. I hope I can achieve my goal.”


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