Bollywood is currently coping with an unprecedented situation. The industry is suddenly short of background dancers. Producer Shubir Mukherjee, who brought Hollywood actor Judith Shekoni of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part 2) fame, and planned to shoot an extravagant song for his next film, Club Dancers, says, “I required 100 dancers, but had to make do with 30.” Cashing on the situation, the few dancers that the producer managed to get, quoted a large sum. “I had to pay quite a lot. Not double, but at least one and a half times more,” says Shubir.
The reason behind this sudden shortage — some filmmakers, such as Remo D’ Souza and Ayan Mukerji are believed to have blocked many dancers. While Remo’s ABCD — Anybody Can Dance, featured many junior dancers, Mukerji booked around 600 dancers for a song he is shooting with Madhuri Dixit
and Ranbir Kapoor
for Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.
Raju Nagpal, choreographer of Judith’s song, says, “Others too are currently shooting with background dancers. That’s why we are finding it difficult to get dancers.” Choreographer Ashley Lobo says, “There’s the same set of dancers in the industry, so if there are two projects that require them at the same time, there’s obviously a scarcity.” Lobo classifies these dancers in three categories depending on skill and personality, and points out that “foreign dancers are most expensive”.
Choreographer Saroj Khan brings up another factor: “Rather than dancing at the backdrop, the dancers now have avenues to go and become actors in TV and also in films.” There’s always a way to cope, though. “If directors don’t want to wait and agree to stretch budget, we call people from outside (the industry),” says Choreographer Geeta Kapoor.