Dance like them
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- Published 24.03.11
|Saroj Khan with Madhuri at the shoot of Choli ke peechhe|
There would be little dhak dhak in Bollywood without her. For close to five decades, Saroj Khan has made movie stars dance to her tune, choreographing some of the iconic celluloid moments and making the careers of many. In town to teach Calcuttans a few of her famous matkas, Khan is hopping between Gorky Sadan and Natya Shodh Sansthan in Salt Lake, where her classes are on till March 31. Her 10-day workshop, Ek Do Teen, organised by Gleam Beyond Beauty salon, comes to a close with a performance by the students at Kala Mandir on April 1. t2 caught up with the star choreographer before she took over the classroom.
|Dola re (Devdas): One of the most beautiful moments. When I watched it on screen, I could not believe it!|
What prompted you to hold this dance workshop in Calcutta?
I would like my style to spread everywhere. That’s why I decided to come to Calcutta. I will be teaching Bollywood dance.
You’ve been doing Bollywood dance for about 50 years. How did you start out in cinema?
|Nimbooda (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam): Sanjay Leela Bhansali rang me and said that it was not good, that it was not what he wanted. Aishwarya and I were completely red in the face. Then he showed us the song and we watched it together. Twelve times!|
My parents came from Pakistan but I was born in Mumbai. We were refugees and we had nothing. At the age of three, I discovered dancing. My mother thought I was mad because in my family there was no dancer, painter or photographer. They were all business people. So, she took me to the doctor. The doctor said that if I loved dancing and the family required money, they should send me to the film industry. My mother told him that we didn’t know anyone in films. The doctor said, “Don’t worry, a lot of the film people come to my clinic.” He passed on my name. There was a film called Nazrana where a child is sitting on the moon. I started my career with that!
Then at the age of 10, I lost my father. I had no other way to feed my family except by becoming a background dancer. We call it group dancing. Then I met Masterji, (B.) Sohanlalji. He was the one who choreographed Hothon pein aisi baat and he was the one who did Ina mina dika. He saw me dancing and he said he could make me a good dancer and asked me to become his assistant. So, at the age of 12, I became his assistant.
|Choli ke peechhe (Khal Nayak): Subhashji (Ghai) never used to leave the sets for any song. For this song, he had said that Ashok Mehta (cameraman) and I should do it. I got an award for it. For 12 years I was with Mr Subhash Ghai and I never got an award. I told him that the first time he left me alone on the floor, I got my award. Thank you, Subhash Ghai.|
The first lady I taught was Vyjayanthimala for College Girl, in which Shammi Kapoor was the hero. At 14, I became independent and did Dil Hi Toh Hai. My Masterji went for Sangam’s shooting and I choreographed Nigahen milane ko jee chahta hain. It gave me a lot of confidence.
Can you pick some memorable moments from your life?
The first would be when I became aware of who my mother was. It was very special; I hugged her tightly. The second is when I became an assistant to Sohanlalji. Third would be when I choreographed my first song. And fourth would be the day I had my son.
Do you like the choreography that is happening in Bollywood now?
|Kaate nahin kat te (Mr. India): Shekhar Kapur and I were the first ones to see that song. When the song was over, in the darkness, I saw Shekhar Kapur do a war dance... screaming and dancing.|
No, I don’t like it. It has no meaning. What you have done, your brother is doing and your sister is also doing the same thing. Same type of movements, dresses, colours and hairstyle.
What do you think of Munni and Sheila?
Munni badnaam (hui) is still better as it has the Indian touch. It is a better song. Sheila ki jawaani you can forget, but not Munni. Though while shooting Munni, I don’t think any work has been done. It’s as if they are only dancing for fun. No proper hand movements. Aisa lagta hai ke western ladki ko kamar mein ghagra chipka ke bhej diya, Malaika ko. But the song is strong.
|Dhak dhak karne laga (Beta): When I was shooting for Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, Indra Kumar came to me for final clarifications about the song. I asked him to show it to me on wide-screen. He brought the footage to RK Studios and when we had a break, Anil Kapoor, Satish Kaushik and Boney Kapoor... all saw the song. Not once, but thrice. There was no whistling and no clapping. There was pin-drop silence. While leaving, I asked Satish Kaushik, “Tere ko lagta hai kisiko bhi mera gaana pasand nahin aaya hoga?” He whispered, “Koi haath khaali thhey hi nahin taali bajaane ke liye!” That is the biggest compliment I’ve ever got!|
Who do you like watching these days?
Nobody is a good dancer except Aishwarya (Rai Bachchan); the one who is showing good signs is Kareena Kapoor.