Chorographer Shabina Khan had a very bumpy ride before she finally entered the industry and made the actors dance to her tunes. Coming from a non-filmi background she had to make her way in the industry. Much before choreographing for Salman Khan, she got her first break with MAIN MADHURI DIXIT BANNA CHAHTI HOON and Ram Gopal Varma came forth as an in angel in disguise for her. Post which Salman Khan went on to become her Godfather and she choreographed songs for Salman Khan’s films like PREM RATAN DHAN PAAYO, TUBELIGHT. Though she embarked her career with RGV, it is her association with Salman Khan that fetched her desired recognition.
In a candid conversation with Shabina Khan she spoke in length about her journey in Bollywood, how Ram Gopal Varma gave her that big break & Salman Khan became her godfather and more…
Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us about your journey?
It has been a long journey. I didn’t even want to become a dancer. I did not even know what dancing meant. It was Ganesh Hegde who gave me my break as a dancer in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s KHAMOSHI while I was still studying in school way back in 1995. Around that time, my mom had enrolled me in Madhumati aunty’s acting academy where in exchange for learning acting, I used to teach Urdu diction to her students. In fact, we were not well off and at one time my family ran because of me. I used to treat my work like a diligent student. After dancing in films choreographed by Ganesh Hegde for almost seven years, I started doing stage shows all over the world with him as a dancer. Then I joined Ganesh Master with whom I worked for six years and learned a lot. Later, I joined Sarojji and assisted her in SOLDIER as an assistant, till one day Prabhu Dheva asked her if he could borrow me to assist him in the choreography of the film KHUSHI which was being directed by a South Indian, since I knew Hindi.
How did you get your break as an independent choreographer?
It was with Chandan Arora’s film MAIN MADHURI DIXIT BANNA CHAHTHI HOON that I bagged my break as an independent choreographer in 2005. I had choreographed the song ‘Nikal Re Bhaiyya’ in ROAD produced by Ram Gopal Verma, who remembered me when he decided to launch MAIN MADHURI DIXIT BANNA CHAHTHI HOON, and called me. He had actually signed on Saroj Khan to do the choreography but felt that I’d be better. To tell you the truth, initially, I did not want to take up his offer as I felt that I was not technically good especially, as I was hardly 19 then but went to his office and showed to Ram Gopal Verma and Chandan Arora the steps of ‘Ek Do Teen’ and ‘Humko Aaj Tumse’. I ended up choreographing not just one or two but ten songs.
From MAIN MADHURI DIXIT BANNA CHAHTHI HOON, there was no turning back for me. I continued to get offers for choreography from Ram Gopal Verma for his films. Salman Khan saw my hard work and referred me. He is Godfather to me in the industry. I was elated when I did PREM RATAN DHAN PAAYO wherein I choreographed for eight songs in the film. The film gave me the guts and also the right platform.
How was the experience choreographing for Salman Khan, considering he is known to come up his signature dance steps?
It was not at all difficult for me to choreograph Salman Khan’s steps as I was an assistant on the sets of his film JUDWAA and we know each other well. He has always encouraged me with his judgment. I have to judge his steps in advance and keep alternative steps too. We have to use our own judgment and keep on changing steps to suit the actors because not all actors are Hrithik Roshan or Salman Khan. Especially with Salman Khan, I know that my step will be a hit. Though I choreographed only the steps of Sonam Kapoor in PREM RATAN DHAN PAAYO, Salman khan puts in lot of hard work and rehearses a lot.
We hear Salman Khan recommended you to Kabir Khan for TUBELIGHT?
Yes. Salman Khan only recommends where he feels that the particular choreographer will do justice to his dances.
What kind of chorography do you like and enjoy?
I like all kinds of dancing. It depends upon the film’s subject.
Who are Bollywood’s best dancers?
Tiger Shroff, Hrithik Roshan, Varun Dhawan and few more.
Which actor would you like to choreograph for?
Shah Rukh Khan
What are your upcoming projects?
After ANARKALI OF AARAH which was released recently, Kabir Khan’s TUBELIGHT, things in pipleline are Ananth Mahadevan’s AKSAR 2 and Govind Sakaria’s RAM RATAN.