People now realise the hard work of choreographers in making a star look good on the dance floor

If your child is jiving away to “Badtameez Dil” in a birthday party don’t blame or thank Ranbir Kapoor. It is Remo D’ Souza who made the star go crazy on the dance floor. “This distinction has come through dance-based reality shows. Now people realise the hard work a choreographer puts in to make the star look good on the dance floor,” says Remo, one of the most sought after judges on dance-based reality shows, who is doing something Shiamak Davar did in the ’90s.

Unlike Shiamak, Remo has come from humble origins and reached come up the rarefied world of Bollywood choreographers. “When I started it was very difficult to break through the established names. They had relationships with top names and the best you could do was to assist them and wait for your turn,” says Remo who started as an assistant to Ahmed Khan. “After Rangeela, I decided to start on my own knowing well that if I fail I would lose the Rs.3000 a day I was getting as an assistant.” The move clicked. Today he has an army of choreographers working with him. “I am not insecure at all. I learn from them and promote them whenever I get a chance. Salman and Punit (Pathak) are already doing well,” says Remo, whose first Hindi film ABCD: Anybody Can Dance featured all his assistants and students. “My idea is to democratise dance. Most choreographers used to practise with stars in closed rooms fearing somebody might steal their steps. I started rehearsing in the open and invited people to watch.”

Veterans like Saroj Khan find today’s choreography gimmicky. “She is right in the sense that these days a choreographer should know dance as well as camera work. I try to strike a balance between the two.”

Remo agrees that we had a culture of dance-based films. “I am a fan of Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Navrang. I want to bring that era back in a contemporary way. With Hollywood films being dubbed in regional languages today, western influence is so strong that you can’t go for a pure Indian dance forms right away. I made a Bengali film around Chhau but it is yet to be sold. I have a script around tiger dance (Pulikali) of Kerala but the industry will invest in me only when I will deliver a big Bollywood success,” says Remo, now working on the sequel of ABCD with Shraddha Kapoor and Varun Dhawan.

Remo says the judges should resist from making loose comments like ‘you learnt Kathak in a week’. “One should clarify that you learnt a particular mudra of Kathak in a week. At the same time I must say that audiences can distinguish between different dance forms. You can’t fool them in the name of putting together a good show.”

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