From Choreographer To Director: 4 Lessons We Learnt From Farah Khan

On her 58th birthday, we’re looking at Khan’s journey in Bollywood for some life lessons.

Published On Jan 09, 2023 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024


For decades, Farah Khan was one of the most sought-after choreographers in Bollywood. Khan has given the Hindi film industry iconic dance steps and has choreographed everyone from Shahrukh Khan and Kajol in Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to Hrithik Roshan in Ek Pal Ka Jeena from Kaho Na… Pyaar Hai. Ask any 90s kid, and they’ll instantly know the steps to Farah Khan’s iconic choreography. In recent years, the choreographer-turned-director has audiences thronging to theatres to catch her hits. While it has been several years since Farah Khan first began directing films, her journey to success has not been easy. You can learn a lot from her journey, and on Farah Khan’s 58th birthday, we’re congratulating her on her successes by looking at some lessons worthy of learning from her life.

It’s common knowledge that Farah Khan does not come from a privileged family. She’s a classic example of a rags-to-riches story. Khan’s father was a wealthy film director until his film Aisa Bhi Hota Hai, flopped at the box office on a Friday morning. Khan has on several occasions revealed that her father died soon after with only Rs 30 in his pocket. But the fallback that Khan’s father faced never deterred her. She went on to become an ace choreographer in Bollywood, working on some of the biggest hit songs the industry has ever seen. And, as you know, eventually has become a Hindi film director and gained equal success as one. Khan has also launched Kantha by Farah Khan, an exclusive boutique in Kolkata for Kantha silk sarees. 

If there’s one thing Farah Khan knows, it’s how to make India dance. Khan has perhaps choreographed over 100 songs in Bollywood and has given the industry several hits and iconic dance steps. But she has no formal degree or training in dance. It seems like when Khan became a choreographer, she had got the formula right. In a world where we’re all hopping that our dance reels go viral, Khan has managed to ‘go viral’ even before the term ever existed.

Do you know many Indian celebrities with surrogate babies? Chances are you’re aware of only a few. But Farah Khan’s journey with surrogacy was one of the first to be spoken of in the media. And, Khan stayed confident of her decision through it all. She was one of the first Indian celebrities to boldly talk about surrogacy and has been an inspiring mother to her three kids. Khan has always taken bold decisions personally and professionally. Even her marriage to Shirish Kunder at the age of 40 was a bold move in the early 2000s.

Farah Khan’s choreography was always a success. So, was a career shift necessary? To Khan, her age and success as a choreographer didn’t matter. In 2004, she launched her directorial debut, Main Hoon Na and had everyone swooning over Sushmita Sen and Shahrukh Khan’s on-screen chemistry. We don’t need to remind you that the film was a box office success and even has songs and classic Khan dance steps that to date manage to make anyone move.

Farah Khan is now a popular dance show host. And, rightly so, because she’s given the industry iconic dance steps that anyone who hears the song can replicate. 

No one ever expected Bollywood’s badhshah to dance on top of a moving train. But Farah Khan’s choreography put Sharukh Khan and Malaika Arora there. Khan gave us not just an iconic dance number but also steps that any non-dancer could replicate.  

Hrithik Roshan dancing to Ek Pal Ka Jeena was truly iconic. But Farah Khan also choreographed him and Preity Zinta in Idhar Chala. The way Roshan balances his body in this number is noteworthy, but it’s all thanks to Khan’s choreography of course.  

Farah Khan’s directorial debut naturally had her choreographing the film too. The song introduced the softer side of Amrita Rao’s character in the film. And, of course, had college students dreaming to replicate this in their campuses as well.

A comical dance number? You could only expect Farah Khan’s choreography to pull that off. Deepika Padukone has fun steps and performs them with grace. This song not only had audiences trying to ape the steps but also laugh as they dance.

You could only trust Farah Khan to turn Katrina Kaif’s average dancing skills into a sizzling number. Sheila Ki Jawanai has gone on to become a popular number, with even more popular dance steps.

Yet another iconic item number, Munni Badnaam Hui not only managed to get Salman Khan perform a comical step on-screen, which went to become quite popular but also showed Malaika Arora’s dancing prowess. And, it’s all thanks to Khan’s choreography. 

Photo: Instagram/Farah Khan