Bollywood actresses Shilpa Shetty and Jayaprada took lessons in the classical Indian dance form of Odissi for an India-China joint film venture. And the Orissa-based dance guru is all praise for Shilpa's grace and commitment.
"Shilpa Shetty went through a week-long Odissi dance workshop under my supervision at Kollam (in Kerala), where the film is being shot," Odissi dance Guru Ratikant Mohapatra told IANS here.
Tentatively titled The Desire, the film will see Shilpa sharing screen space with Chinese superstar Xia Yu, who is considered the Shah Rukh Khan of China. Produced jointly by Sharad Hegde from Mumbai and Tracy Shiyun from China, it is being directed by R. Sarath.
"I was specially invited by director R. Sarath to teach Odissi to Shilpa and choreograph the song for her in the film," said Mohapatra, son of legendary Odissi exponent late Kelucharan Mohapatra.
"My working experience with Shilpa Shetty was very good. As an actress and Bharatnatyam dancer she was able to understand the style and form of Odissi and its execution," he said.
"Practising in the morning and evening, Shilpa had no star tantrums and she proved herself to be a committed artiste. Her performance in the shooting was also satisfying," Mohapatra said.
The dance guru said the training session took place from January 14-19, while Jayaprada also took lessons for a brief period.
The Indo-Chinese project, under the banner of C-9 Motion Pictures in association with Indish Creations, also features Anupam Kher, Sachin Khedekar, Sheetal Menon and Nakul Vaid.
The Desire revolves around Goutami (Shilpa), an accomplished Odissi dancer, and a talented artist Jai Leang (Yu) and follows the journey of their respective lives until they are separated and brought together again by destiny.
Yu is not the first Chinese actor to star alongside Bollywood stars. Veteran Chinese martial arts actor Gordon Liu was seen in Nikhil Advani's Chandni Chowk To China that released Jan 16.
Mohapatra, who is director of Srujan, the dance school started by his father Kelucharan Mohapatra in Bhubaneswar, was involved in composing the music for the dance sequences as well.
"Sarath told me to compose the music for the Odissi (dance sequences) and choose an Oriya song. Then Shri Lakshmikant Palit was invited to compose the music and I composed the rhythm of Odissi Mardala," Mohapatra added.
"Presenting Odissi dance in a Bollywood film with its purity and form intact, along with Odissi music and Oriya literature is certainly an achievement for me personally, for our state and for the Oriya people," the dancer said.