Location Diaries: Making Shah Rukh groove to his tunes
Dance choreographer Prasanna Sujit talks about his experiences in the films Billu Barber, Kakkakuyil and Kaadhal Kondein
At the location of the Bollywood film, Billu Barber, at Film City, Mumbai, in 2008, the sun was shining brightly at 11 am. But dance choreographer Prasanna Sujit was shivering. That was because he was about to show the signature step for the song, Marjaani Marjaani to superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
Soon, Shah Rukh appeared on the set. He watched Prasanna from a distance. Then he came up and said, “Are you nervous?” The choreographer said, “Yes, I am.” Shah Rukh smiled and said, “Relax, I am a chilled-out guy.”
Prasanna began to breathe easier. Then he went some distance away from the star and performed the steps. Shah Rukh immediately came running up and said, “This is fabulous. Please teach me.”
After a brief rehearsal, the shot was taken and completed in one take.
Thereafter, Prasanna went to have lunch in his vanity van. After a while, there was a knock. When the door opened, Shah Rukh came in and said, “Thanks, Prasanna, you did a very good job. Hope to meet you soon.”
Then Shah Rukh paused and said, “Why don't you call me when the IPL match comes to Chennai? You can watch it with me in the VIP box.” An overwhelmed Prasanna nodded silently.
Another superstar who made a lasting impact on Prasanna was Mohanlal. Prasanna worked with him for the song, Govinda Govinda in the Malayalam film Kakkakuyil (2001). “I was recovering from a fracture on the right hand,” says Prasanna. “Mohanlal was also not well. He was suffering from cold and fever and taking medicines.”
There was a sequence in which director Priyardarshan asked Prasanna to do a cartwheel, land on one knee and remain in that position. “When I was practising, my hand slipped and I was not able to land properly,” says Prasanna.
Mohanlal noticed this and told Prasanna, “You are trying to do a cartwheel when you have a problem with your hand. You should not do it. In fact, I will do it.”
Though Prasanna pleaded that he would do it, Mohanlal stood firm.
In the end, Priyadarshan agreed for a physically-weak Mohanlal to practise the cartwheels. “Again, like with Shah Rukh, the shot was done in one take,” says Prasanna. “It was a very touching gesture on Mohanlal's part.”
Prasanna had a different experience on the sets of the Tamil film Kaadhal Kondein (2003), which had Dhanush in the lead role. It was being shot in the Talakona forest, near Tirupati. “It was an era where there was no wifi or WhatsApp,” says Prasanna.
At 2 pm, director Selvaraghavan gave the audio track, which contained the theme music, to Prasanna and asked him to choreograph the dance immediately. “We have to complete the shoot before 5.30 pm,” the director said. “It is winter, so the light will fade very fast.”
Prasanna thought for a while and came up with the idea to use the choreography of a tribal dance. When Prasanna showed the steps to Selvaraghavan, he liked it. He quickly turned to Dhanush, and said, “Learn it from Prasanna.”
Soon, the shoot took place. When it was over, Selvaraghavan came up to Prasanna and said, “Actually, this music was to be used much earlier. But because it has come out so well, I want to use it in the climax, along with a fight sequence.”
Prasanna said, “Please go ahead. It is an honour.”