It’s a muggy summer evening and Shaan is showing off his battle scars – red elbows, bruised shoulder, kneecaps that have seen better days. It’s been barely a week into his training for the reality dance show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and already his inexperience is showing.
"This is my first step outside of music," Shaan points out. "And most of the other contestants have had some dance training." But he’s grinning that grin of his and bearing it. "I can’t let the fact that I’m an established singer cast a shadow over my performance," he says as he takes a breather with his pug Chowder and chats with Brunch.
You’ve been a wholesome good guy for two decades. Is it hard to pull off?
Quite often, being the good guy means people walk all over you. I’ve tried to be something I’m not, putting my foot down and being a tough act, but it’s never worked. It happened recently at a multi-artist concert in London. They kept changing the line-up, pushing me from opening act to finale and back. I tried shouting back but it changed nothing – I was the opening performer anyway. At the end of the day, it’s also the kind of person you are. I’ve never had to struggle to get here so I guess easygoing is the natural way to be. I feel that there is something called destiny – that there is a plan and as long as I can just go with it, good things are meant to happen. If you try something that doesn’t come naturally, you end up hating what happens after.
And they are happening, with alarming regularity, aren’t they?
Yeah. But if you’re talking about Jhalak, I’m not sure that’s a good thing! I’m 40. I’ve done simple choreography, but I never gave dance much thought. I was in for a rude surprise. I’ve been hurled around this past week and I’m trying so hard to keep up. But I’m also discovering so much about myself as I learn the steps. I’ve pushed myself more in dance than I ever did with music. It’s made me realise there are other aspects of life that could do with a push too. I’m discovering so much about myself with this show.
Are you any good? How long do you reckon you’ll last?
My wife is impressed! But I’ve already made vacation plans for mid-July. I’m sure I’ll be out of the running by then. See, I can’t do more than one thing at a time. If I’m talking and driving, I often don’t know where I’m headed. If you ask me to move my left hand, my right hand will have a life of its own and will be doing something else altogether. I’m so uncoordinated, even a bounce is a move, a step in itself. Then I’m supposed to do the bounce with moves for the feet and hands... it’s terrible! I’ll be great fun to watch – the comedy relief on the show. Who knows?
They’ve got the moves
"You know, until Jhalak, I never ever noticed people’s dancing," Shaan says. "I thought it was very easy, that anyone could do it. But man, it’s hard" Here are the dancers who get his respect
Michael Jackson: For me, it begins and ends with him. His music is just so danceable, right from the early boogie and disco to the later punk. He’s the guy that makes me dance.
Beyonce: With her, it’s full-on choreography. And what’s amazing is that she doesn’t let her talent stop at her voice. She’s the one I want to dance with. Maybe a tango.
Ranveer Singh: I saw him perform at an awards show and I was surprised and impressed at how he moved with such energy
Madonna: She’s 55, but she really knows how to put a show together. And she’s always ahead of the game. You’ve got to respect that.
Hrithik Roshan: I’ve always heard about his dancing. But now that I’m dancing, I know how hard his moves are to
execute. He’s fantastic!
From HT Brunch, May 26
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