Making Bollywood celebrities dance to their tunes is surely not an easy task, but that is done by our amazing choreographers, and one of them is Adil Shaikh. He has choreographed some amazing songs like ‘Babaji Ki Booty’, ‘Punjabiyaan Di Battery’, ‘Gulcharrey’, ‘Daingad Daingad’, ‘Manali Trance’, ‘Bhar Do Jholi’, ‘Let’s Nacho’, ‘Kar Gayi Chull’, ‘Move Your Lakk’, and many more.
This year Adil received a Filmfare award for his choreography in ‘Kapoor & Sons’. We recently had a chat with him, and the choreographer spoke to us about how he felt on winning the Filmfare award, his experience of working with different actors, his latest song ‘Move Your Lakk’ from ‘Noor’, and many other things.
Congratulations for winning the Filmfare award for your choreography in ‘Kapoor & Sons’. How does it feel to take the black lady in your hand?
It’s a lovely feeling. It’s like holding the best lady in your hand.
The recent songs that you choreographed are ‘Move Your Lakk’ and ‘Gulabi’ featuring Sonakshi Sinha. So, how was the experience of working with the actress?
Working with Sonakshi is amazing. On a very friendly note we have done this film. The character she is playing in the film is what she is in real-life. The way she has taken the song and the shoot, everything was mingling around, the dance was according to her, and everything went really well with her.
Sonakshi Sinha has earlier done desi dance numbers, but for ‘Noor’ the actress, for the first time, is doing something different. So, was it challenging for you to choreograph for her?
‘Move Your Lakk’ and ‘Gulabi’ were a challenge for me because people have always seen Sonakshi doing a lot of desi dance stuff as you just said. But, you know she always had that hip-hop grove, she had that western feel in her which I had to take out. She was really excited and she jumped of the chair and was like ‘I always wanted to do something like this, so let’s go for it’. So, that’s how we did, and also there were some inputs by Sonakshi in the songs which really helped me and my team to conceptualise the song. She incorporated a lot in the songs. So, that’s why the songs are doing so well, people are loving it. It always happens that when you perform what you love, so it is appreciated by the audience.
‘Move Your Lakk’ also has Diljit Dosanjh and Badshah. So, how was it working them?
Diljit and Badshah, I have worked before with them. Whenever I work with them, they are like happy-go-lucky guys, and there was not too much of dancing in the song, not too much of choreography. Basically, they need to have fun in the song. My first question was what is the meaning of ‘lakk’, so ‘lakk’ means waist. So, it was like move your waist or hips. When these guys came on the sets I told them they just have to have fun, and then the camera started and they were having fun, that’s what you can see in the song. And there’s one hook step which they do it in between which is on ‘Move Your Lakk’.
Tell us something about your background. Did dancing come to you naturally or you have taken any professional training in it?
Nowadays dance has become more popular, so every child and every small kid enjoys dancing. In our times, dance was not too much popular. We used to just see Mithun Da or Govinda or Michael Jackson on TV. So, watching them was the main part of getting into dance, and also in my family everybody has got the rhythm. Whenever there is a function everybody starts dancing, so the base was there always. But, nothing forced me into dancing. I used to do a job, and I was once standing at Andheri station having an ice cream. One guy came an asked me if I would like to be a model. So, I thought the fashion model, but he was like not that model, it’s like standing behind the actors and just waving the hands. He told me you will get around Rs 300 a day, and I was like that sounds amazing how many days will I get that job, so he was like 15-20 days and I was like amazing. So, I entered the industry as a junior artiste. I was from a very lower middle class family, money was needed. As a child I would always work. So, that’s how I got into the industry by watching all the dancers, performers, the lifestyle they had. It was like for the same thing you are travelling around the world, for the same thing you are getting food, so it’s like, so much of fun in Bollywood. That’s how I entered the dancing industry and then step by step it went on.
Dance has always been an integral part of Bollywood films. But, nowadays the songs are getting repetitive. So, as a choreographer what changes you want to get in Bollywood songs?
When I get a song, I try to do a different kind of lighting, I try doing a different kind of clothing, and I try to do the different kind of moves. See moves are like what you have seen daily, that only comes to your mind. People say that they have done kind of choreography that is never done; it’s the same choreography that we always see. So, we just try to do different kind of lighting, give a different kind of design to the song. I totally understand when you are saying that the songs are looking very repetitive because people are loving those kind of songs. People want to watch these kinds of songs. When you give them different, they don’t agree on that. People like all those things like the hook step, larger-than-life kind of video. So, what people want, we are giving them that.
Going through a few videos of the songs that you have choreographed like ‘Kar Gayi Chull’ and ‘Let’s Nacho’ on YouTube, mostly everyone’s name is there in the credits, but your name is not there. So, do you feel a choreographer doesn’t get his credit that he/she deserves?
On this thing we choreographers had taken a call in between. A very good choreographer called Bosco had gotten this input in one of his interviews, that choreographers don’t get credits for the video of the songs. Basically when you see a video, the name of the music composer is there, singer is there, but the choreographer’s name is not there. It’s a director’s job. When an audio is given, we do the whole thing, we design the song, we choreograph the song, we sit on the actor’s make-up and hair, and after the song is shot we sit on the edit of it. So, it’s totally our baby. I believe that it’s time that we get a little more credit. I understand that it’s a behind the camera technician, but then choreographers should get a little more credit. Even in promotions it is important, like when a song is launched there’s no choreographer. I believe when you watch a song you like it, while hearing the audio it doesn’t become great.
At a song launch a celeb talks about the musicians and the singers, but never about the choreographer. Do you feel celebs should at least give the credit to the choreographers?
When all these kind of events happen, everybody is busy in their own thing. You cannot blame anybody like the actors should take the name (choreographer) or the producers should take name. It’s like if an actor is doing a video launch, they are excited about the song, they are excited about press taking their interviews, they are excited about what they have to talk in the interviews. So, in excitement you don’t realise whose name you should take and whose not. So, I believe it’s not their problem; it’s about the people who are organising it like producers and the companies. It should be their call.
You have worked with big banners like Dharma Productions, YRF, and many more. So, do they give you the freedom to choreograph the songs your way?
Amazingly! All the productions I have worked till now, they just give you so much of respect. I just love to be with the productions in Bollywood. It’s much better than what we work outside. They understand the technicians; they understand the technician’s value. So, it’s amazing.
You have worked with many actors like Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Sidharth Malhotra and many more. So, which actor it was difficult to work with?
Nowadays actors and actresses don’t make anything difficult because everybody is down to earth. It’s like when you are going on the job, you are not going to any government job that you have to have lunch at this time and leave at this time. We too have such rules, we shoot 9-9, but it’s on a friendly note, everybody is friendly and is having a happy going shoot. It shows up on screen there. See I am not an action director that on my set everybody is going to be serious or I am not an emotional director that everybody has to cry when I enter. I am choreographer; I have to choreograph the songs, so when I come to the sets, everybody is already happy. So, it’s never difficult for me to work with any of the actors.
On actor and actress you would like to choreograph.
I have always said this, and I will always want this to happen. I want to choreograph Govinda sir with the actresses I have grown up watching like Karisma Kapoor, Twinkle Khanna or Raveena Tandon in some kind of songs like which were there in ‘Hero No 1’ and others. So, keeping the western and the hip hop aside, when I party I dance on these songs.
There are many choreographers who have turned directors. So, is direction on cards for you too?
I am very go-with-the-flow kind of person. As I told you, I entered the industry as a junior artiste, suddenly I became a dancer, my boss made me an assistant choreographer, and then I became a choreographer. So, you never know as I am choreographing the songs and some day if somebody proposes me that why don’t you direct a film for us, I may do it. But, nothing has been planned for it.
Tell us something about your upcoming projects.
‘Hindi Medium’ is my next, ‘MOM’ is there, then Y-Films’ ‘Bank Chor’ is there. So, these three films are there right now.
You have choreographed for ‘MOM’ and we all know that Sridevi is a great dancer. So, what kind of choreography you have done for the film?
Basically when the film promos or the song promos come out, I will be able to speak more on it.