Joined: 01 September 2010
He calls himself a dancer first then a teacher and lastly, a judge. He became popular as a judge with Zee's Dance India Dance (DID) and after having judged three seasons the dancer-choreographer has moved on to explore more. He will be now judging again, though another show, on another channel. He will share space with Javed Jaffrey and Mallika Sherawat to be part of Chak Dhoom Dhoom on Colors.
You have judged solo and duet dances earlier but this time it is team dancing. How different is it going to be?
In solo and duet performances, the pressure is more and one does not have support of many things. In a group, the energy is there as you have so many people dancing with you. One can explore different areas and be more creative. For example, you can give them themes, say 'Sholay'. A group will perform Sholay in hip hop style well but in a duet, how will you do it. Similarly, there are many ideas and stories you can do in a group which you cannot do in a duet. There is so much of drama, I wanted to explore that I wanted to show India how different it is.
Group dancing is not a new concept on television? What's different about this one?
Generally you see group dancing in movies where a star is dancing and the rest are dancing behind him or her. This is very boring for me.
Even India's Got Talent (IGT) had Group dances….
Yes and it was on the same channel then why would they do a show like this. The reason is in IGT, they had three rounds, two semi finals and then a final. In that time, one does not get to explore the groups. In the case of Chak Dhoom Dhoom, we have 12 weeks and in that time you will get to see new ideas and the groups will create something different each week.
Dance India Dance (DID) was a platform that made you popular. Are you going to miss it now?
All three of us were good. Remo (D'Souza) was doing his films, I was doing my corporate shows and performances and running classes and Geeta (Kapur) had her own work. But, DID gave us a platform and today when I walk on the street people know me for DID but, it's time to move on to explore more. This does not mean I will cut off my ties with Zee; even if Zee wants to cut off I won't let them because I have this loyalty towards them. And just because I am loyal does not mean I shouldn't explore and experiment with new things.
You guys had a rule in DID where you all had decided never to walk out of the show. Does that rule apply here too?
Yes, because it is like insulting this platform. There is something called respect and we must respect a platform that gives us our bread and butter. I cannot insult it.
When do we see you coming back on DID?
Whenever DID calls me back I will be there.
On DID, your trademark line was 'That was a chumeshwari performance', do we hear you saying the same here?
It's a secret. But I won't be using chumeshwari as it is associated with DID. But, something that comes from the bottom of my heart will be 'the' word.
Have you come across any differences with your co-judges till date?
Javed (Jaffery) is a senior and he is very technical and Mallika (Sherawat) is fun to work with as she is so bindaas. Generally artists are reserved but she is muphat! I enjoy their company.
Which of your co-judges are you fonder of Javed and Mallika or Geeta and Remo?
This is like comparing apples to oranges. They are both very different, their energies are different. Geeta is so vibrant and bubbly and her energy is different. Remo is quiet, man of few words. Javed speaks well and very eloquently. Mallika talks straight from her heart. They all have very different flavours and different vibes, everyone is unique.
Will we see you pointing every detail of dancing just like before?
Yes, you will definitely see me pointing things because an artist does a lot of hard work and you just can't tell them they have performed badly. I am a Guru and it is my responsibility to show them the right path. I must point out everything, every detail. I should tell them what I did not like and explain the right technique or show it to them. This is something that I as a judge pointed out to the contestants and I will continue doing it.
When was the first time you danced?
I was six-years-old then and I had seen Kurbani with my family on the big screen. I was blown away when I saw 'Laila main Laila'. Later there was a dance competition in school and I wanted to participate and I performed on 'Laila'. I was in St Joseph School, Bandra when I got my first prize for dancing and I was enjoying myself the teacher who handed me the prize said, 'You are very good but you're best of the worst'. She said, 'You did it from the Michel Jackson video'. I was like 'yes' and she asked me to join her dancing school. I went there but my parents weren't ready to pay 500 rupees for three months. I told her I couldn't afford that much money so, she offered me to clean the place and she would teach me to dance in return. So, I did clean the floor but that was where I got to start.
Has there been any performance in the auditions that touched your heart?
Yes, there was this group from Orissa that enacted a dance on beggars and there was a scene where the boy picks up food from the dust bin and eats. This was an incident straight from my life. My father was the only bread earner of our family and once when he had a lockout in his company it was very difficult for them to run our family. We used to get just one meal a day and during our break time in school the rich guys would throw their food in the dustbin and I would collect the same food and eat. That dance bought all the memories back and I couldn't stop crying. God has given me a lot today.
Can we say you are more accessible on small screen now?
I am not being immodest but recently twice I was on a flight with these two big stars and people recognized me and took my autograph in front of them. They recognize me more than them; this is the kind of connect comes with masses when you are on TV. I am part of their dinner-time conversation.
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