World Dance Day was on April 29th, thus India-Forums has turned its attention to the evolution of dance in Bollywood. We went down memory lane to find some iconic songs that gave us signature moves that we mimic even to this day! On the way, we noticed how some tracks became famous only because of their dance moves, all thanks to the talent of their choreographers. These veteran choreographers are the masters of their art and their effort is visible in every performance they orchestrate. Today, we focus on those dance directors who have emerged as Dance Gurus of Bollywood and even brought us international acclaim.
When it comes to dance, the first name on the tip of our tongues is Saroj Khan. She is perhaps the revolutionary behind the “Bollywood” style of dance, solidifying it as a category amongst Indian dance forms. Beginning as an assistant choreographer, Khan’s first solo work began in the early 70s. Late 80s and early 90s brought her critical acclaim, thanks to dance numbers such as ‘Hawa Hawai’ from Mr. India (1987), ‘Ek Do Teen’ from Tezaab (1988), ‘Humko Aaj Kal Hai’ from Sailaab (1990) and ‘Dhak Dhak Karne Laga’ from Beta (1992). Her work in Tezaab (1988) was so good that Filmfare introduced a category award for choreography. By the late 90s and early 2000s, Khan was the most sought after choreographer with hits like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (1995), Pardes (1997), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), Taal (1999) and Devdas (2002) to her credit. She has been bestowed eight times with the Filmfare Award. Her career may have dwindled down in recent years, but she once again proved her mettle with ‘Tabaah Ho Gaye’ in Kalank (2019). Even today, she is considered one of the best choreographers in the industry and her body of work remains legendary.
If there is anyone in Bollywood, who is as impactful as Saroj Khan in the field of dance, it is definitely Farah Khan. She got her big break with ‘Pehla Nasha’ from Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar (1992) and hasn’t looked back since. Being one of the few ace choreographers back in the 90s and early 2000s, she’s worked widely in the film industry providing numerous unforgettable numbers filled with catchy steps. Some of her best work includes ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ from Dil Se (1998), ‘Ek Pal Ka Jeena’ from Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (2000), and ‘Chale Jaise Hawayein’ from Main Hoon Na (2004). Recently, she’s wowed with hits like ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’ from Dabangg (2010), ‘Radha’ from Student Of The Year (2012) and ‘Zingaat’ from Dhadak (2018). After peaking in the field of choreography, she has since ventured into direction and can also be seen on television shows as a celebrity judge.
While Ganesh Acharya may not be as well-known as some of our prior dances gurus, his work had garnered him numerous accolades. Starting his own dance troupe at the tender age of 12, he has been active in Bollywood since 1991. He came into the limelight with ‘Badi Mushkil’ from Lajja (2002) starring Madhuri Dixit. His work in ‘Aisa Jaadu Daala Re’ from Khakee (2004) was also well appreciated and ‘Beedi’ from Omkara (2006) won him the Filmfare Award for Best Choreography that year. In the last decade he has choreographed for movies like Race (2008), Agneepath (2012), Dabangg 2 (2012), Bajirao Mastani (2015), Judwaa 2 (2017) and many more. He also won the National Film Award for Best Choreography for ‘Maston Ko Jhund’ from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013).
Remo D’souza has donned many hats, excelling as an actor, director, and producer; but his choreography skills are what truly made him popular. After working as a background dancer, he got his breakthrough in early 2000s by choreographing for movies such as Saathiya (2002), Dhoom (2004), Pyaar Ke Side Effects (2006) and Rock On! (2008). He also directed and choreographed for ABCD: Any Body Can Dance (2013), which is also touted as the first dance film in Bollywood. His recent works include Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), ABCD 2 (2015) and Bajirao Mastani (2015). Furthermore, he is a prominent television personality and continues to judge and perform in many dance reality shows. He truly is a pioneer when it comes to creating spectacular western and contemporary dance styles fused with Bollywood. His talent and contribution to the field of freestyle dancing has helped propel him to the peaks of success as a choreographer.
Any top dance gurus list is incomplete without Vaibhavi Merchant. She started off as an assistant to yesteryear choreographer Chinni Prakash. Her first solo project was ‘Dhol Baaje’ from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), which won her the National Award. In 2005, she won multiple awards for the popular song ‘Kajra Re’ from Bunty Aur Babli (2005). Her repertoire includes some of the songs from Devdas (2002), Dhoom (2004), Veer Zaara (2004), Aaja Nachle (2007), Dostana (2008), Delhi 6 (2009), Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Sultan (2016) and Tiger Zinda Hai (2017). She has also choreographed in many movies in the southern film industries. Recently, she has worked on songs in Salman Khan’s Bharat (2019).
While these five come to mind when thinking of the top Bollywood choreographers, others who deserve an honourable mention include Shiamak Davar, Ahmed Khan, Geeta Kapoor, Prabhu Deva, and Bosco-Caesar. All of them have been crucial in bringing innovative dancing styles and techniques to not only Bollywood, but the world of dance at large. It is because of such amazing dance directors that Bollywood dance styles have been appreciated on a global level and many foreigners are keen on learning our Bollywood dance moves. Whois your favourite choreographer? Do let us know through your comments!
Writer: Kalpana K.C.
Editors: Anushka J.and Gunia K.
Graphics: Sandhya D.