She first heard about
Sheila ki jawani…
at Mehboob Studio from the film’s director-choreographer Farah Khan who wanted a trained professional to teach her heroine, Katrina Kaif, belly dancing. “Katrina was in Spain then, shooting for Zoya Akhtar’s
Zindagii Na Mile Dobara
, and I had to air dash to South America too. At our first meeting we were both jet-lagged,” recalls choreographer-instructor Veronica Simas de Souza Rosas whose clientele includes actors Ria Sen, Masumeh Makhija, Rakhi Sawant, Salman Khan’s sister Arpita and Shah Rukh Khan’s wife, Gauri.
Veve, as she is popularly known, was impressed with Kaif’s posture and her professionalism. “Katrina had been working on her body with her trainer, and was determined to get every movement right,” she says.
What makes belly dancing different from the Bollywood-styled
is that while in our
dances the head, chest and limbs move in tune to the music, in the former, everything is still, and only one isolated muscle vibrates. “Less is more,” smiles Veve who worked on Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan’s music video,
She says that they would work on each movement for a minimum of half-an-hour during the five-day rehearsal before Katrina was ready to face the camera. The belly dance portions were shot over one day during which the actor was believed to have suffered abdominal cramps.
Veve confirms this but says that the cramps weren’t the result of poor technique. “It could be because of exhaustion, even trained dancers can’t dance for a prolonged time. Also, they never eat a big meal before going on stage. Katrina tried to keep her stomach empty and that may have caused acidity. Or the snacks she nibbled on did her in,” she shrugs.
The instructor is busy setting up her dance company and hosting the Hafla Lounge: The Art of Belly Dancing at Zenzi. She insists that interest in belly dancing has peaked periodically, usually with the release of a Shakira video. Bollywood, she admits, hasn’t been big on it,
being the exception.
“More than technique it embodied the emotion and essence of the dance. Helen was inspired by the item number girls who ruled in Cairo and Lebanon back in the 1930s and ’40s. I’m hoping that ‘
Sheila ki jawani...
can bring belly dancing into Bollywood. Katrina is sensuous and coquettish, graceful and elegant, like a flower slowly opening up,” she raves.
So what’s the next ace? “This is just a teaser. Even Shakira fuses her belly dancing with hip-hop or salsa. But the next time I do it, it will be the ‘asli’ thing, no mixes,” she promises.