Husn Hai Suhana from Coolie No. 1
This was the song that really made my career in choreography take off. There were a lot of big choreographers at that time – Saroj Khanji, Chiniji. Ramesh Taurani, the producer, wanted them to choreograph this song; not a new choreographer like me, because it was a sure-fire hit song. But David Dhawan and Govinda wanted me to choreograph this song. Somehow they convinced Ramesh Taurani, and he agreed. I put everything I could into the song, everything I’d learnt in my life, and all my energy and enthusiasm. The steps of this song helped register the style that Govinda and I would be known for.
Beedi Jalaile from Omkara
I had done some many songs before this and my family used to say, “You’ve given so many hits like Coolie No. 1, Ghatak, Agni Sakshi and Judwa but you’ve never won a Filmfare Award.” This was the only song that I’ve ever done with Vishal Bhardwaj. It was shot randomly. He said, “Give me a sign movement that people will catch.” It was a great song with lyrics by Gulzar saab and music by Vishal Bhardwaj. I thought about how I would create a new style – so I left go of the miming and gave the kite-flying movement. The song was a hit and it earned me my first Filmfare Award. The song was a mass song but it established me as a “class” choreographer.
Masti ki Paathshala from Rang De Basanti
My sign movement style had been established by then. It was a weird shoot but we needed the ‘masti’ in it. We spent two days practising just the one clapping step. The film was so good and I did two songs in it – Masti and Khalbali. After that, Rakeysh Omprakash callled me for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. And I told him, “We did Apni Ki Paathshala so well but we never got the packback for it.” He said, “I think we should break that same step in half and put it in Maston Ka Jhund.” I ended up winning my first National Award for that.
Chikni Chameli from Agneepath
After 22 years of my career, Dharma Productions called me for Agneepath. In the original film, I was a group dancer. I was on the fence about working on this but I got a call from Karan Malhotra. He said, “Do you remember me? I used to be 7th assistant with Rajkumar Santoshi and used to come to your vanity van to call you when you did Lajja. Please listen to the song once for me, it’s my first film.” And when I heard it and found out that Katrina Kaif was doing it, I said, “I’ll surely do it.” She had already done belly dance and hip-hop but never done this Marathi tadapta type dance. She did 7-8 days rehearsal and shot for 8-9 days without slippers or shoes!
Malhaari from Bajirao Mastani
I had worked with Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the song Kaipoche from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and then 14 years later for Tattad Tattad from Bajirao Mastani. Nobody can match Ranveer Singh. You ask him for 100 and he’ll give you 1000! Sanjay said This is my king but should he dance or should we get a hero for the song? He saw the choreography and the style and attitude of the king and that’s how we did Malhaari.