October 7th, 2010 - 9:38 pm ICT by Sampurn Wire  

October 7, 2010 (Sampurn Wire): Sandeep Soparrkar, a well trained choreographer from Germany had come to India on a Holiday and ended up doing choreography for a Shyam Benegal film ‘Zubeida’. More famous for his dancing style in Latin American Ballroom dancing his forte remains limited in Bollywood. Nevertheless he has indeed created a niche for himself out here. Recently he was seen as a judge in ‘Little Masters -Dance India Dance’ along with Farah Khan and of course guest Mithun Chakraborty. Here in this telephonic interview he discuses about his journey in Bollywood in particular and about other aspects of choreography in general.

How did your journey as a choreographer begin in Bollywood?
You see I don’t belong to any filmy family in Bollywood. In fact I am a well trained choreographer from Germany who had come to India for a Holiday. Then it so happened that on a good friend’s suggestion I started my dancing class in Latin American Ballroom dancing which is my forte. Then by sheer luck I got a call from Shyam Benegal to choreograph for his film ‘Zubeida’ and I stayed on. It has now been a decade in Bollywood and now I have grown so used to it that I think I am here to stay.

So what difference do you find in choreography in Bollywood then and now?
I think I am the wrong person to answer this query. I think Saroj Khan would be the best and the right person to answer this. As it is I have hardly done 12 films in a decade that I have stayed here because Latin American Ballroom dancing is my only forte along with Salsa and Cha Cha Cha and I am not at all aware of the choreographic scenario prior to my coming to India.

But some choreographers are of the opinion that Saroj Khan maybe good at Indian dance forms but she has not moved ahead with times. What say?
Well! What can I say? She is considered a Dance Guru. In fact she is an institute in herself as far as Indian dance form is concerned for who else can give such hit and sensuous dance songs as ‘Kaate Nahin Kat Te Yeh Din Yeh Raat’, ‘Dhak Dhak Karne Laga’, ‘Ek Do Teen’ et al.       

Do you think that any form of dance completely backs choreography?
I think it’s the other way round. Most of the time a perfect choreography covers up for lack of prefect dance forms. As choreography includes a complete package of a scene, background, concept, lighting, camera angles, technique, best equipments which enhances a choreographer’s visualization and of course the perfect main dancers and chorus dancers in the background or the foreground also helps a lot.

Can a choreographer unlearn his dance style, form and technique while choreographing a song?
No I don’t think so. Nothing of the sort! But yes of course a choreographer can unlearn his English and learn or even polish his Hindi like me by keeping track of the nuance and meaning of every word which has to sync with every rhythm and every beat of the music in tandem with the requisite dance steps.

Which stars do you think are very good at dancing in Bollywood?
I think I can safely name the trio of Hrithik Roshan, Kajol and Priyanka Chopra. First of all Hrithik Roshan is a fabulous dancer. While Priyanka is an amazing dancer as I have noticed while working with her for Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’. And of course Kajol is a brilliant dancer. In fact it is her dancing skill alone that has not been tapped perfectly till now.

So what do you do when you find an actor with two left feet on the sets?
Nothing except cheating. I think most of the choreographers take refuge in cheating. I do so with the help of my choreography like taking long, close or mid shot of the actor in question. Yes sometimes the attitude of the actors also help but rest of the time I make do with the background or the foreground dancers, the scenes. Like I did with Manoj Bajpai in ‘Zubeida’, with Emraan Hashmi in one of the film whose name I don’t remember off hand and with Jackie Chan in ‘The Myth’. All of whom can’t dance for nuts. But things are changing now actors are now putting in more efforts in learning their dance steps and movements, giving ample time for rehearsals.     

Can a choreographer become a good director and succeed and moreover do you share the same ambition?
I don’t know about that but yes they can certainly try to be a good director and even succeed. Any ways what’s the harm in trying and achieving then not trying at all? As for me yes I do share the same ambition but at least not so soon or not even in the near future. Right now I am content enough with what I am doing including my dance class. Besides my hands are full now!

How was it being on the small screen by judging ‘Little Masters -Dance India Dance’? Are you doing any more dance reality show on the same lines?
Oh! It was wonderful! In the beginning I was very skeptical about accepting the show by thinking what the kids will do. But I was proved wrong by their amazing talent. They literally floored me. I instantly fell in love with them. They were brilliant, out of this world. Yes I am in talks with a channel for doing another reality show albeit not on the same lines but as they have not yet announced it I cannot give you any more details about it right now. 

Did you have any clash with your director while choreographing a song?
Yes indeed only once with Pooja Bhatt while choreographing a song for her film ‘Holiday’. While on the sets I insist on my director’s presence as I cannot handle the shoot by way of technique and handling the camera I can only choreograph a song but she refused to come on the sets during the filming of the songs. So I was left with no alternative but to walk out of the film. I was supposed to do 4 songs but I ended up doing only 2.

Can a choreographer and an actor be good friends on and off the sets?
Yes I think they can be, just like a designer and an actor, depending upon the vibing they share on and off the sets but it is rare.

Finally tell us who is the best choreographer amongst the current lot?
I think many of them like Terence Lewis and Bosco – Ceaser they are very innovative. Farah Khan as she is very creative and always thinks out of the box! Remo D’Souza as far as Hip – Hop is concerned. While Saroj Khan is the best for her grandness, oomph and extreme sensuality!

– Shaheen Raaj / Sampurn Wire

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