Arun Nandakumar is high on dance

Arun Nandakumar   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“Ready master?” For a second Arun Nandakumar was rooted to the spot, as an assistant director waited to hand him a microphone. On the sets of new campus-movie Queen, out in theatres last week, the choreographer stood before a sea of faces that awaited his cue. “It was close to 100 artistes, 41 of them being actors, the rest junior artistes and dancers looking at me from different floors of Government Engineering College, Thrissur to begin the take. I had never managed such a big group before,” Arun says, almost reliving the exhilaration.

His second film as choreographer, the Thiruvananthapuram-based 35-year-old is elated after the popularity of Podipaarana... where the lead actors dance to his steps. We are talking about the celebratory song, a flurry of men in purple shirts and white mundu led by a confident lass in a red sari. The image, based on a photograph in which students of Sree Buddha College of Engineering in Pattoor, Alappuzha, held a procession in the same way, caught the eye of director Dijo Jose Antony, forming the plot for Queen where a female student becomes part of a batch of boys in the mechanical engineering department of an institution.

Queen had a cast of youngsters, all debutants. Arun was to teach them the steps in the three days that they had in between the schedule, and arrive almost a month later for the shoot. He had rehearsed the steps with his assistants Sharook and Govarthan before arriving on the sets to teach the actors after which they rehearsed with the help of videos shot on their mobile phones. The hard work has paid off.

Arun Nandakumar

Arun Nandakumar   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“None of them, save for the female actor Saniya Iyappan, had any background in dance. But their enthusiasm to learn was commendable,” he says, mentioning nights when the chaps would knock on his room door at the hotel after dinner, ready for yet another rehearsal. Almost 10 takes later, where he was assured by a crew member that the first day was always the longest, everything fell into place.

Arun came on board Queen after the choreographer who was slated to join had to withdraw at the last minute. Not that he’s new to challenges that arrive on short notice. For Chemparathipoo, his first movie as choreographer, Arun was asked to arrive on location with steps in mind for a situational song. “But circumstances led to the shoot for that song being shelved and I was asked to choreograph for a romantic number called Chilluveyil Chayumee instead. I had one night to do it!”

With a strong foundation in contemporary dance, Arun has been teaching since the age of 15, something he now continues to do as an instructor at Toronto Art Café in Pettah. He is all thanks to contemporary dancers Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sajeev of Samudra Arts for changing his life with their holistic training.

Arun is hoping for a time in the Malayalam film industry when choreography will be given as much importance as in the neighbouring film industries.

A die-hard Mohanlal fan, he confesses that choreographing even one step with the actor would land him on cloud nine.

Then comes Vineeth, whom he assisted at the opening ceremony of the National Games. Kunchacko Boban and Prithviraj are the other actors who he thinks has immense potential.

A music video he conceptualised is due for release soon.

For now, he is celebrating his moments – those few seconds when his name appears on credits; the first time he saw a hoarding of Queen at Pattom with a scene he choreographed and pulled his car over to capture the moment on his mobile phone…

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 7:44:09 AM |

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