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"I'm petrified of facing the camera" - SLB

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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Monday, October 09, 2006
Why did you suddenly decide to judge a dance contest?
Dancing is the soul of all my films. Even in a song-less film like Black, the characters laughed and danced. So what if Rani Mukherjee was deaf and blind? She had to let her hair down, go wild, and dance... Dance was my main inspiration to make films.

But you've never done television before.
I realize television is an extremely important medium today of expression and entertainment. It reaches out to millions of homes. After having shot through two taxing schedules of my new film Saawariya I needed to chill out, smile a little bit. I'm not doing the show to judge anyone, just to watch people have a good time through dancing. I also like the concept. The show I'm doing isn't about dancers dancing, but people from different walks of life, like a chef. It's the spirit of the show which seduced me into doing it. Just because I'm a serious filmmaker it doesn't mean I can't have a good time. It makes me smile and I hope it will make viewers smile too.

Describe your penchant for dancing.
I remember as a child I'd come home from school, put on the radio between 2.30 and 3 in the afternoon and dance to any number that was played. Since my childhood my deepest form of self-expression has been dance. When guests came home they had to watch me and my sister Bela dance. And God forbid if the radio or record player didn't work there was chaos. Therefore song and dance forms an integral part of my creativity. The whole universe dances.

What about your 'serious' image?
I don't know which image you're talking about? You mean of me in a dark kurta brooding in a dark room? That isn't the real me. I don't think my image gets diluted by dancing. I love dancing. Dancing is my life.

Name your favourite dancers.
From Hindi cinema? Vyjanthimala is the ultimate. I love her dances in Amrapali. I enjoy Mumtaz's vivacity and spontaneity. Motiyon ki ladi hoon main from Loafer is my favourite Mumtaz dance. Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit are also my favourites. I think Sridevi's dances in Chalbaaz and Madhuri teaming up with my favourite dancer Birju Maharaj for Kahe chede mohe in my Devdas are among my golden moments as a dance aficionado. I worshipped Waheeda Rehmanji for her snake dance in Guide. Hemaji is my favourite actress, for her grace. I adore her Ta thai tat thai dance in Tere Mere Sapne. But my real superstar dancer is Helen Aunty. My favourite dance of hers is Piya tu ab to aaja from Caravan. And my most favourite dance item featured Vyjanthimalaji and Helen Aunty in the song Muqabla humse na karo in the film Prince.

That's quite an impressive list!
I must add that dancing in Hindi cinema owes a lot to Laxmi Chhaya who danced fabulously in Mera Gaon Mera Desh. Then there's Padma Khanna, Aruna Irani (who danced like dream in Caravan). Jayshree and Meena T can never be discounted from any discussion on film dancing. Sandhyaji who danced like a lightning with Gopi Krishna in Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje...I could go on and on.

And among the male actors?
I enjoyed Govinda's dances immensely. My favourite male dancer is Hrithik Roshan.

Aren't you afraid of going into a new medium?
I'm petrified of facing the camera. Even to shoot for a photograph is an ordeal. But it's important to break free of your inhibitions at some point of your life. As long as what you do reaches out to people, I don't think there's any reason to stop yourself from doing anything.

How much of your time will this new job take?
Just enough to give me a much-needed break from my schedules. If it had in any way impinged on my shooting schedules I'd have most certainly not done it. This stint on television is on some ways, therapeutic. It gives me a chance to reach out to the world. I don't care about the money. This short shift into another medium gives me a chance to connect with a larger audience, as long as it entertains me and the people who watch the show, I'm happy.



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