Choreographer Ganesh Acharya On How Coolie No. 1 Changed His Life, Film Companion
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National Award-winning choreographer Ganesh Acharya’s handiwork is instantly recognisable in iconic songs such as Chikni Chameli, Beedi Jalaile and Malhaari. The talented performer, who formed his own dance troupe at the age of 12, bagged his first film Aanam at 21. One of his biggest successes, however, was the choreography for the song Husn Hai Suhana in the movie Coolie No. 1 (1995), which features Govinda at his prime and a midriff-baring Karisma Kapoor busting a move along with hundreds of synchronized backup dancers. Acharya went on to have a longstanding and fruitful professional relationship with Govinda, choreographing him in movies such as Saajan Chale Sasural and Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan. Husn Hai Suhana, however, is emblematic of peak ’90s fashion, with glitter on everything – from hairbands to caps to shiny panels on the dancers’ skirts. Here Acharya tells us about the song that gave him his big break:

“The song ‘Husn Hai Suhana’ is 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. When I finished choreographing it, my dancers and I were waiting for David Dhawan, Govinda and Ramesh Taurani to come and watch the dance. We hadn’t eaten all day! We only drank juice. When they saw the dance, they realised it was the correct decision [to hire me].”

“Karisma was wearing shorts for the song. There was a step that required her to move forward on her knees, jump and then land back on her knees. When Karisma’s mother Babitaji saw this, she told Karisma she’d have to do it. Karisma said it wasn’t possible, but her mother told her if she wanted to be a big star, she would have to do the step. It took half a day, but Karisma did it without knee-pads. Her knees were bleeding. The song was a hit; and it was as a result of its success that I came to be recognised as a choreographer in the industry. For me, because of this, David Dhawan and Govinda are my godfathers.”

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