Shahid Kapoor traces his journey to stardom through his most memorable naach gana moments.
Prized memories of Shiamak Davar
My mother Neelima Azeem is a well-known Kathak dancer. I would sit in the wings or watch from the sidelines when she performed. Though I never thought of taking classical training myself, the exposure to dance and Bollywood movies sparked off an early interest. And at 15, as soon as I was out of school, I joined Shiamak Davar’s Dance Institute.
I was a really shy boy and always tried to blend with the group. Yet, I must have caught Shiamak’s eye when he was visiting because I was upgraded to an advanced batch. And for the end-of-the-term award ceremony made to dance to two songs, Madonna’s ‘Vogue…’ and a track from the just released James Bond film, Golden Eye.
After the show, the best dancers from every batch were felicitated. Almost every kid got a prize, except me. I remember standing there thinking to myself, “Yaar, I wasn’t that bad!” Then, suddenly, they were announcing my name for a special award - best of 1,500 dancers. And everyone was looking at me with eyes wide open. Some even wanted my autograph. Wow, I felt like a star!
Later, I joined the institute as an instructor. Shiamak was extremely patient but also hard on disciple. It’s from him that I not only learnt my dancing skills but also the first rules of professionalism. I was pretty strict myself. I also tried to balance out the good dancers with the not-so-good ones and ensure that everyone was treated equally.
Making medley with Ishq Vishk
I remember the medley from Ishq Vishk though I don’t remember the songs. Dancing was easy, emoting was the difficult part.
I remember a funny incident involving my brother Ishaan. He came to the set on the first day of shooting and bumped into Ken’s (director Ken Ghosh) son who told him he was the director’s son and wanted to know who Ishaan was.
“I’m the hero’s brother,” my brother replied proudly. And a friendship blossomed. Recently, when we were shooting for Chance Pe Dance, they wanted me to show them some moves that Marty (choreographer Marty Kudelka) had taught me. I was in the middle of a shoot but I had to stop and oblige.
The challenge of ‘Dhan te nan…’
I would say this is perhaps the most challenging song I have done. We knew that since Charlie was a man from the streets, the moves couldn’t look too choreographed and yet we couldn’t let the value of the dance or song dip. Ahmed (choreographer Ahmed Khan), Vishal (director Vishal Bhardwaj) and the rest of us sat together to figure out how a guy like him would dance in a club. And we came up with ‘Dhan te nan…’
My mom is biased, she likes everything I do but dad (Pankaj Kapoor) is not easy with his compliments. But even he like this Kaminey song because I was true to my character in it.
‘Mauja re mauja…’ with Pritam
We were at Khandala railway station, Imtiaz (director Imtiaz Ali) was shooting with Kareena. I was in my van waiting to be called. Suddenly, music director Pritam walked in strumming his guitar and singing Mauja re majua. He had just two words but it sounded good. We shot the song at Yashraj Studio in a day-and-a-half.
Moonwalking with MJ
Michael Jackson was coming to Mumbai and I had to be there. The Rs 500 tickets were too cheap, the Rs 5, 000 ones were out of my reach. I settled for a Rs 3000 one. For a whole year I saved up but could manage to come up with only Rs 1,900. My mom surprised me by chipping in with the balance.
I went for my first concert alone. I was really excited but couldn’t imagine screaming like all those other MJ fans. “Pagal hain sab,” I thought to myself as I watched them. Then the man himself was up there and suddenly I was also shouting, “I love you Michael!” That’s the power of a mega star!
After the concert, I came out of Andheri Sports Complex and walked all the way to my Versova home in a daze! Thriller was the first song I remember dancing to. I’ve been trying to perfect the moonwalk since I was a kid. In the privacy of my bedroom, I must have practised it a 100 times. And then I forgot it till we started working on Chance Pe Dance and one of the song needed the step.
My brother Ishaan who’s a dance freak and has been learning from me and also correcting me, came to the sets when we were shooting to check that I got the moves right. He even sprinkled talcum powder on the floor to smoothen things for me. On January 15, you will see me officially doing the moonwalk on screen. Whoa!
In Taal with Aishwarya
I had just started with Shiamak when I was called for ‘Kahin aag lage lag jaye…’ . I was one of the dancers who
circle around Aishwarya (Rai) in the Taal song, wrapping a white dupatta around her.
I must have been about 15 at the time and nervous in the presence of veterans with six-seven years of experience. There was a lot of discussion going on and all of us were wondering who would be the lucky guy to put the dupatta on Aishwarya’s head. I was sitting quietly when suddenly Shiamak shouted out, “Shahid get up and do this step.” I still remember the murderous looks I got from the rest.
Imagine a rank newcomer landing such a golden opportunity! I had no clue it was such a big deal. I was only worried about not messing up the shot. If you catch the song, you’ll see me white-faced. Those were the days when I thought I was this cool dude with a great body. I was disappointed on seeing the scared, skinny boy on screen and blamed the cameraman for taking such a bad shot.
I also did Dil To Pagal Hai with Shiamak’s dancers. Like with Aishwarya, I never worked up the courage to exchange words with Karisma Kapoor. I had just two-three days work since by the time I arrived, they had almost wrapped up the song. I was in the fourth row. Not surprising since the first two of rows were for the confident, chilled out dudes. Shamiak still has to choreogrpah a song for me.
Dancing with Marty
Having Marty Kudelka who has worked with international pop artistes like Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson choreograph for me in Chance Pe Dance was a high. Since by now everyone knows that I can dance, the idea was to surprise them with something new. It was difficult to unlearn all that I’d been doing and adapt to Marty’s moves. He came down just a week before we started shooting and I had just seven days to pull it off. But Marty seemed happy when he left.
5 Dancing Heroes
Michael Jackson: He’s evergreen and original. You can’t bracket him. His music and dance was his own. The first step Ahmed Khan’s three-year-old son picked up was from MJ’s video. His appeal transcends all boundaries of colour, country or even age. His untimely death is a huge loss. It took a day for it to sink that he was gone and another couple of days to get over the fact that he was really gone.
Gene Kelly: Energetic, athletic and likeable, he was dancer, actor, director, producer and choreographer rolled in one, par excellence.
Justin Timberlake: He’s another original. You never see him overdo things. He is able to mix his music and dance in a way that’s cool.
Jabba Wockeez: It is a dance group that wear singnature white masks. They appeared briefly on Step
Hrithik Roshan: I love him in all his songs, particularly ‘Main aasa kyun hun…’ from Lakshya, choreographed by Prabhu Devaa.
5 Songs to watch
‘Aapke seedhi lagi dil pe…’ (Half Ticket): Kishore Kumar sang both the male and female versions. The song is a riot!
‘Oo jaane jaana…’ (Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya): I’ve singled out this particular song of Salman (Khan) because for the first time perhaps you saw an actor bare bodied, looking like a Greek God.
‘Ek pal ka jeena…’ (Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai): One of my favourite Hrithik Roshan songs.
‘Aati kya Khandala…’ (Ghulam): I love this Aamir Khan song for its orginality.
‘Chaiya chaiya…’ (Dil Se): Shah Rukh (Khan) must have had so much fun dancing on top of a train.
5 Musicals to watch
Singin’ In The Rain (1952): I’m a huge fan of Gene Kelly and I’m told he shot the title track when he was running a temperature of 103 degrees. The director wanted to pack up for the day but Kelly insisted on staying on, wrapped the song up in one take, then went home to recuperate. Unbelievable!
Westside Story (1961): This Hollywood classic along the lines of Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, is adapted from a Broadway play, and was the first film to win a Best Director Oscar for its two directors, Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Elvis Presley was Wise’s original choice to play Tony.
Grease (1978): I’ve been wanting to do a campus film for a while now like this John Travolta-Olivia Newton- American musical with No 1 hits like Frankie Valli’s title track, ‘You’re the one that I want…’ and ‘Hopelessly devoted to you…’.
Chicago: One of the best musicals of the decade, Chicago was the first musical since Oliver! in ’68 to win an Oscar for Best Picture.
Step Up 2—The Streets (2008): To prepare for the role of Chase Collins, Robert Hoffman actually participated in competitive break dance circles.
5 Actresses I'd love to partner
Marilyn Monroe: How I wish we could have had just one dance together.
Madonaa: In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two, behind only The Beatles, on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, making her as the most successful solo artist in the history of Billboards. The golden girl is a golden dream.
Jennifer Lopez: Shall We Dance?, I’d borrow the title from her 2004 movie if I met JoLo.
Madhuri Dixit: What wouldn’t I give to do an ‘Ek do teen…’ with her.
Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif: It would be great matching steps with them.