Once in a while a film comes along that redefines audience’s outlook and sets a new benchmark for filmmakers. Choreographer Shiamak Davar achieved this with his ground-breaking choreography in the 1997 film, Dil To Pagal Hai. This Yash Chopra directorial is a quintessential romantic drama for which Davar was awarded the National Film Award for Best Choreography.
Dil To Pagal Hai is celebrating its silver jubilee, #25yearsofDTPH, this year. ZeeZest caught up with the legendary choreographer for an exclusive chat about the iconic Bollywood chartbuster. “I am too happy. It’s been 25 years, so as the saying goes, DTPH stood the test of time and that’s a big thing for me!” Shaimak tells us.
Most 90s kids are familiar with the DTPH’s foot-tapping numbers such as ‘Chakk Dhum Dhum’, ‘Le Gayi Le Gayi’ and others, but it is the famous contemporary jugalbandi featuring Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor in ‘The Dance of Envy’ that still has people’s jaw dropping, 25 years later. Shiamak tells us that while both the actresses were actually given similar dance routines, it was the way they executed them that made the dance stand out. He explains, “Madhuri is very gifted and she is also classically trained and Karisma is very modern in her dance style. So, both complimented each other with their own strengths and I used that to make the song look so good.”
How much went into those perfect dance moves, we ask. “Madhuri and Karisma had to rehearse a lot since my movement was very different from the movements in those days. Even my style of counting was different. They had to understand my thought process and language of dance and they did that quickly and beautifully.” He also acknowledges that with both the actors being great dancers came as an advantage. But he adds, “It’s not always the case. Today many call it the Shiamak style and it demands a lot of ballet and contemporary training like in my show, Selcouth.”
Shiamak Davar’s role in Dil To Pagal Hai was more than just a choreographer; he was onboarded as a dance director. He tells shares, “Each song took about three days to prepare and I worked on the costumes and hair and looks along with Yash uncle. They gave me full creative control, which is why I could do what I had to do.”
At the time the film was made, all four lead actors (Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri, Karisma, Akshay Kumar) were big in the industry. The fact that they were all working closely together and each had as much of an important role in the film left fans wondering about the relationship they shared on set. “Neither Karisma nor Madhuri were insecure of each other. They were consummate professionals and very hard working,” assures Shiamak. He adds that his favourite actors to choreograph are Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.
Over his decades-long career as a choreographer, Shiamak has won many laurels, formed a new genre of his own dance style, yet DTPH still continues to be his favourite. “Yes, I bagged many awards for choreography but my favourite award was for DTPH. It was the best I did at that time, given the time. But I’ve grown to make my own style in over 35 years, which is a mix of Indo-contemporary movements,” he says.
“My most challenging choreography has been my first song. I never thought it would work as my style was too western and contemporary. So, in my head, it was the most challenging. Choreographing it was not challenging, but to think I could do this kind of choreography for Indian cinema, was,” Davar reminisces but in today her he finds, “the toughest actors to choreograph are the new breed who think they know it all and want to cut paste from other choreographers.”