Evolution of dance in Bollywood

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Latke-jhatke, jhumke-thumke to breakin-krumpin — On International Dance Day, Bombay Times traces the evolution of dance

in Bollywood and what lies ahead

In veteran danseuse Alarmel Valli’s words, ‘Dance is like wine; it matures with every performance’. That pretty much puts in perspective what Bollywood has been through in the last 100-plus years with its song-and-dance routines. Over the decades, our movies have developed their own style, blending classical and folk dances with elements of popular Western forms.

Let’s rewind

Though it’s difficult to pin down the first film that brought dance to Bollywood, what is evident is the way in which it has evolved in our movies. The earliest dance sequences in Hindi films were derived from Indian classical and folk dance forms. Later, it was Cuckoo, who ushered in cabaret dancing and came to be the the queen of film dancing in 1940s. Post-Independence, in the 1950s and 60s, group dances began to show up in films and dance masters with large groups of performers came to occupy centre-stage. Remember the twin sisters, Sai and Subbulaxmi, in ‘Aplam Chaplam’ (‘Azaad’, 1955)?

With the passage of time, performers like Vyjanthimala, Sandhya and Helen became popular for their individual styles of dancing. Though she didn’t start with cabaret, Helen became synonymous with the style and was followed by artistes like Bindu and Aruna Irani. Padmini, Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore, Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman, Rekha, Reena Roy and Parveen Babi —everyone performed to the gallery and displayed oomph in their individual style.

Heroes, on the other hand, often struggled to match up, though most displayed an inimitable style. Shammi Kapoor’s self-styled dance moves went on to be imitated for generations. Signature styles of actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor were entertaining.

Mithun Chakraborty and Govinda brought disco and break dance to the shore with their signature styles. Thanks to the culture of dubbing South Indian films in Hindi, Bollywood was exposed to a phenomenon from the Tamil film industry — Prabhu Dheva. The post-1995 era saw a sea change in dance — every new actor came with a body trained to groove. Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Tiger Shroff —today, almost everyone can dance saala!

Moves that rock Bollywood today

Classical, cabaret, disco, break-dance and free-style have now found company in some of the finest global forms of dance. Hip-hop, locking-and-popping, belly dance, or salsa — you name it and Bollywood’s got it. Credit must be given to music channels, internet and reality shows that helped create awareness about just how big the world of dance is.

“In a way, the 50s, 60s and 70s were more modern than today’s generation. There was a lingering British influence, which was beautifully balanced by films like ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ (1960) and ‘Pakeezah’ (1972). Now, we don’t have heroes drumming, or heroines doing the kind of cabaret Helenji did. That was bold. And that was also India’s only window into the Western culture of stage-shows,” points out choreographer Ahmed Khan, adding that since today’s songs enjoy shorter shelf life, they have to be crafted like bullets that catalyse a film’s promotional activity. He adds, “We have much wider access to dance and music from across the world now, which is evident in the way our numbers are shot. Attention is paid to every detail. We have blended what we learn from the West with what we have.”

Bollywood groovers

‘Rangeela’ (1995), choreographed by Ahmed, added youth and colour to the songs, which have only become more fine-tuned with time. “A lot of credit for the way our dance has progressed goes to the heroes and heroines. Heroes like Dilip saab and Dev saab weren’t dancers in the true sense. Today, every actor and actress can pull off every form of dance. To add to it, the choreographers are far more well-versed than the previous generations,” adds Ahmed.

Choreographer Remo D’Souza, who gave India its first series of dance films, credits music for the way dance has changed over the years. “Look at the beats we have now. EDM and hip-hop has become so common these days. This modernisation of dance started in the late 1990s with ‘Rangeela’ and ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997). Early 2000s saw a surge in the number of dance-based reality shows. They not only made dance a household phenomenon, but also a respectable profession. They have also given the industry so many talented dancers and choreographers,” says the choreographer-filmmaker, who shot to fame as a reality show judge. Credit also goes to the Jaffery brothers (Javed and Naved) and Ravi Behl for introducing reality shows to Indian television with ‘Boogie Woogie’.

Every dance-based reality show today seems to be tilted more towards the West. Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan points out that we’ve left our own dance forms far behind. “I’d seen a Broadway sort of a performance in America, which showed how pure dance has been pushed on the sidelines, leaving all the space for circus-kind of dancing. Bollywood has seen glorious dancers in the past, what we see today looks pale and lifeless. If a trapeze kind of act works for one artiste in one situation, everyone wants to do it. Whatever happened to individuality? With the same sort of dance style flooding the scene, people are getting bored. They are slowly returning to their roots, but it will take time,” she says.

She remembers that artistes like Sharmila Tagore, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and even, Aamir Khan rehearsed for days (sometimes months) before the shoot. “Though some of the girls today are good, they tell me that ‘Shoot pe hi kar lenge Masterji. Rehearsal ka kya karenge?’ No one wants to devote time and show some respect for the craft,” rues Khan. She feels that dance is also losing sheen as songs no longer have melody. “Who makes a great dance-worthy song today? The lyrics are so shoddy,” she remarks.

Yesterday’s thumkas V/s today’s jhatkas

Many in the industry would like to disagree with Khan’s views on the current lack of dance-worthy music. Remo, for one, believes that cabaret, known to be one of the most glamorous forms of Bollywood dancing, has only become more modern with time. “There’s so much more effort put into our item songs. Heroines like Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra would never agree to an item song, if there was anything amiss about them,” he argues.

Music-wise, composer Vishal Dadlani feels that we’re in the golden age of experimentation, where every kind of song and all kinds of beats co-exist. “Dance and music go hand-in-hand, and I believe that we’ve come a long way. In fact, this is the golden age of song-and-dance because we’re blending global sounds with ours. We’re open to everything and everything is accessible to us,” he insists.

Shiamak Davar, who introduced the acrobatic style of dance with ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ and ‘Taal’ (1999), concludes, “Have you seen the subtlety with which we did a pelvic thrust in the dance of envy in ‘Dil To Pagal Hai?’ Every dance form can be picked up and given an individual appearance. Pelvic thrusts were always part of Bollywood’s dance menu, but one doesn’t have to go by the book. Dance should bind hearts and liberate souls. And any form that you think can do that, should always be welcomed.”

While liberating souls is debatable, Bollywood dancing is definitely binding hearts, not just on Indian screens, but worldwide, too. Want proof? Go check the many international dance reality shows and trends abroad. Bollywood is written everywhere!

Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/one-two--three-four--get-on-the--dance-floor/articleshow/58417619.cms All Images and Article Content Copyright own by Same Source Owner.

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