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Since 1st March, 1999
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Dance Dance
(From left) Sakshi Tanwar, Shweta Tiwari, Varun Badola, Prachi Desai
at the launch of Yeh Hai Jalwa in Mumbai.
Rosa Catalano and Rakhi Sawant at the launch of Yeh Hai Jalwa in Mumbai. Picture by Sudeshna Banerjee

You may have watched the first episode of Yeh Hai Jalwa last night at 8pm but you’ll still have no clue as to why Rakhi Sawant is back on a dance reality show weeks after crying foul over the results of Nach Baliye 3, in which she and her partner came second best.

After the glittering launch of the 9X show at the Taj Land’s End on Wednesday, Rakhi was seen reading out from a diary to whoever cared to listen. “I still have not got Rs 33 lakh from the last show (Nach Baliye). Humne big car lee hai... uska instalment hai Rs 75,000, gym aur health club ke liye Rs 50,000, personal travel ke liye Rs 25,000, driver ka Rs 10,000, bai ki Rs 5,000....” The monthly cost of being Rakhi Sawant? Rs 3.5 lakh (approx). “Yeh kharcha to humko bharna padega.”

A galaxy of small-screen stars is ready to shake a leg on Yeh Hai Jalwa and teach teammates to do the same. “The best part is mentoring others. I am not a good dancer, I know I miss my steps. Nor am I versatile. Ginke char steps aatey hain mujhe,” Shweta Tiwari of Kasautii Zindagii Kay fame confessed to t2. But she is now busy watching MTV and recording whatever she likes on her mobile. She leads a team of housewives called Bahu Ki Behnein. “None of them could dance. I chose the ones who at least had hand-leg coordination.”

Rosa Catalano (yes, Saif’s ex) is practising hard with Rangeele Dilwale — car washers, rickshawwallahs and dabbawallahs. “I may not speak Hindi but they are so sweet, humble and hard-working that my only concern is that they do not get scared.” (“At the end of the show, all car-washers will speak Italian,” came Ronit Roy’s aside, in Hindi.)

For Ronit, the lucre was the lure. After all, the leader of white-collared workers hardly has an incentive like his brother Rohit, who will be dancing with blonde bombshells, Firangi Phatake. “He has got more friendly with me ever since he saw my team members,” said Rohit, pointing to Varun Badola.

No surprises there, for Varun is leading 40-plus citizens in a team called Guru Kool. “Many of them last danced before I was born,” he scowled.

Rakhi will sympathise. “Bachchon ko dance sikhana asaan nahin,” she says of her Chillar Patti. “Mujhe dar hai ki mujhe brain tumour na ho jaye.” The day before, during rehearsals, she had been hit on the head by a wild little elbow. “Dekho, yahan tunda aa gaya,” she points to a lump on her forehead, before adding: “The kids come from slums, they do not know what a stage is. I am doing the show for them.” Nach Baliye 2 winner Hussain Kuwajerwala and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 2 winner Prachi Desai will have it easier with teams of aspiring actors and college kids respectively.

But Bonnie Jain of Eternal Dreams Entertainment refused to accept that Calcutta boy Sharad Malhotra, of Dulhann fame, had an edge. “Yes, he leads a team of professional dancers. But he has no experience in reality shows, unlike most others.”

And smiling away in the middle was Sakshi Tanwar. “Why am I not competing? Call it laziness,” laughed the lady who is hosting the show with another star telly bahu, Smriti Irani.

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