It’s an unbearably hot day on March 28 and Filmistan Studios, Goregaon is no different. It’s like a railway station. Metal staircases, humming vanity vans and women chit-chatting, laughing and combing their hair.
But Floor No 4 — where Jhalak Dikhhlaa Jaa 3 is being shot — is another world — cool, dark and full of muffled noises. Off camera, the show dances to a different beat altogether. A little jhalki before the shoot begins.
Koena Mitra and her partner Himanshu rehearse on the dance floor. Mitra’s face is devoid of emotion while her partner looks better in his faded tracks than the costume. The studio comes alive every now and then in candy pink, icy blue and Dev D red as the lightmen test.. well.. the lights.
Finally, as the duo leave to get ready, the studio audience pours in. The floor manager begins a lecture. The audience can’t leave whenever they please.
“Anyone who wants to go can do so, right now,” he says. No reply.
“Anyone?” This time, a cameraman gingerly raises a hand. Not that he has a choice. More rules (no littering, and clapping must conform to a certain decibel) and the floor manager shuts up. A couple of firangs in the audience nod blankly for everything he has just said (in chaste Mumbaiyya Hindi).
Parul Chauhan and choreographer Deepak enter to a round of applause. They’re said to be an item though an insider says he has a girlfriend.
Monica Bedi appears looking like a pretty ostrich (if ostriches are pretty) with a costume burping feathers. She tic-tocs gracefully to a corner of the stage and flashes a winning smile.
Crew members click snapshots with hostess Shweta Tiwari (get over the Prerna chiffon look!) as Shiv Pandit and she exchange small talk.
Miss White (Saroj Khan), Miss Pink (Juhi Chawla) and Miss Black-and-green (Vaibhavi Merchant) walk in to thunderous applause. A loud catcall from Hanif Hilal as Karan Singh Grover walks in with another pretty ostrich, his dance instructor, Nicole.
Enter a rotund man in a checkered lungi and hideous striped tee-shirt. No one pays any heed. Suddenly, he does a jig for the judges which would shame Govinda and the face (boot-blacked plus a Hitler moustache) comes into view — Ram Kapoor.
Not a dull moment now. Kapoor floors the judges with his words, charm oozing out of all that shoe-polish. Yes, he’s doing a Mehmood.
The other contestants walk in without much uproar. Mitra struts back in to a smattering of applause. Finally, the director starts instructions. Shiv Pandit begins his welcome notes. Three retakes later, Kapoor mock advises him, “More feeling!”
Tiwari and Pandit introduce the judges. He saves the words ‘Nazneen, haseena’ and a shower of red rose petals for Vaibhavi Merchant. Juhi Chawla (that smile is a 1000-watt bulb) complains to the production people that she didn’t get a flower-burst.
Pandit instantly obliges. As Mitra’s entry into Jhalak.. is announced, the other contestants stand in tense silence. Suddenly, Kapoor jumps forward facing her in a ‘threatening’ Kung-fu pose that even makes the icy Miss giggle.
The contestants retreat to the green room as the episode begins in full steam. We move out, now that all the unscripted fun is over.