Khushbu Sundar: Spot boys were, are and will forever be our guardians
In conversation with Sundar and choreographer Brinda, who have joined hands to judge the new dance reality show, Dance Vs Dance Season 2
Dance and emotion is inseparable, but must dance shows become a platform through which to tell personal stories? Khushbu Sundar and choreographer Brinda, judges of Colors Tamil's new dance reality program, Dance Vs Dance Season 2, believe so. "Female dancers have forever been character assassinated by society. Getting to know their backstory and struggles silences trash-talkers and inspires dancers from similar backgrounds," says Khushbu. Brinda highlights that life isn't kind and fair to everyone, and so, knowing the personal battles of contestants helps the audience assess them fairly. "Dancers, who come from extremely humble families, come to the shoot sometimes after losing their loved ones. When viewers become aware of their stories, they would think twice before passing judgements."
Reel vs real
Brinda: There is a tendency for films to show that reality shows are heavily orchestrated and manipulative. But that isn't the case, or at least with shows I have been a part of. We, judges, never get prompting from the producers, and the decisions we make or the words we speak are completely unscripted. I have never been asked to do something for the sake of TRP. Naan ukaandhu irukkurathu unmai pesura seat, poi pesinaa adhu enna kuththi konnudum. We see the unedited version of the dances with flaws, so we can never give a false judgement.
A safe place
Khushbu: People assume that cinema or dancing, in general, isn't safe for women. But the truth is that we are not safe anywhere, and in comparison, cinema is a really safe workspace for women. While corporate employees may shy away from standing up for a girl, those in a shooting unit don't ever think twice about fighting against injustice.
Brinda: From co-actors to light men, everyone has a dignified gaze on the sets. Even when we shoot an intimate scene, they only see it as art and focus on the aesthetics.
Khushbu: Back in the day, we didn't have change rooms or caravans to change costumes. For outdoor shoots, I would change behind rocks or a saree screen. I have never had an unpleasant experience because the spot boys and assistants would always safely guard the perimeter. They were, are, and will be our guardians.
Behind the scenes
Khushbu: Every song you see on screen has its own story. Most people believe that the famous Ival Oru Ilanguruvi song (Bramma) was just me having fun, without instructions of a choreographer. But if you look closely, you will see that the song is choreographed in a way that the movements are carefully not synced to the beat. Choreographer DKS Babu had the audacity to do this experimentation. On the contrary, the peppy Seevi Sinukeduthu song from Vetri Vizha was choreographed by Prabhu sir and me. Clapping in between movement changes is against the thumb rule of film dance, but we do that in that song, as the entire sequence was impromptu.
Brinda: The final out you see on screen is hardly the same as the conditions we shoot the songs in. Kodu Potta from Ravanan is a song of celebration, but in reality, the dancers were bleeding when we filmed it. The den of Ravanan you see in the film is a set and the floor was made of metal sheets. So, when dancers started performing, most of them began to get themselves cut by the sharp sheets. They continued to perform despite that and none of them showed pain on their face, as they love the art so much.
Khushbu: Brinda is the reason I took up this Dance Vs Dance Season 2 project. Mol (referring to Brinda) and I have been best friends for the past 35 years, but we hadn't been able to meet each other recently due to the pandemic and our erratic schedules. I saw this programme as a double treat as I would get a chance to spend an entire day with her every week and also, contribute to dance.
Brinda: Khush is my lucky charm and a crucial part of my life. I wouldn't make any major decisions without her approval. In fact, I got married to my husband only after she gave a green signal. Every new year, she gifts me a purse and I use only that for the rest of the year. My purse is always full because of her love and blessings.
Khushbu: Annaatthe! Enakku pudicha Rajini adhula irukaru. People will feel that the film has the vibe and energy of his classics like Muthu, Annamalai and Arunachalam. Shooting for Marudhani song alongside him and Meena was a riot. During the shoot, I missed a step and did it in the opposite direction. Rajini sir spotted it and laughed for fifteen minutes straight. He kept saying, 'Khusbu periya dancer, adhuve thappu panniduchu, naan pannala!" till we packed up for the day.
Brinda: I choreographed the song (laughs). The entire unit had a gala time, and I am sure the film will be a terrific festival release. Ponniyin Selvan, the other major project of mine, has very interesting dance numbers. The songs have Bharatanatyam and ancient folk dance. We rehearsed for the songs well-ahead with the lead actors and dancers to save our time on the set and we managed to finish most of the songs within two days.
Also, my directorial release, Hey Sinamika, starring Dulquer, Aditi and Kajal is gearing up for a release. I can say with confidence that the film will show you a never-before-seen Dulquer.
Dance vs Dance Season 2 airs during the weekends at 7:30 pm, in Colors Tamil.