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'Dance inspired me to make films'

Ace film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali speaks about his passion for dancing and his favourite Bollywood dancers.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 19:23 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

It was Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's love for dance that inspired him to make films. And it is this love that has prompted him to judge a dance contest on television.

Although his list of favourite dances and dancers runs long, he likes veteran actress Vyjayanthimala the best. Mumtaz, Helen, Waheeda Rahman, Hema Malini, Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi finish quite close.

Talking exclusively to IANS, Sanjay, who feels judging the show is a good way to chill, says: "I needed a much-needed break from my schedules. Besides television is a good medium to connect with a larger audience. For me, this stint is in some ways therapeutic."


Why have you suddenly decided to judge a dance contest?
Dancing is the soul of all my films. Even in a song-less film like Black, the characters laughed and danced. So what if Rani Mukerji was deaf and blind? She had to let her hair down, go wild, and dance... Dance was my main inspiration to make films."

It was Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's love for dance that inspired him to make films

But you've never done television before.

I realise television today is an extremely important medium of expression and entertainment. It reaches out to millions of homes. After having shot through two taxing schedules of my new film


, I needed to chill out, smile a little bit. I'm not doing the show to judge anyone, just to watch people have a good time through dancing. I also like the concept.

The show I'm doing isn't about dancers dancing, but people from different walks of life - like a chef. It's the spirit of the show, which seduced me into doing it. Just because I'm a serious filmmaker it doesn't mean I can't have a good time. It makes me smile and I hope it will make viewers smile too.

How would you describe your penchant for dancing?
I remember as a child I'd come home from school, put on the radio between 2.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and dance to any number that was played. Since my childhood my deepest form of self-expression has been dance. When guests came home they had to watch me and my sister Bela dance. And god forbid if the radio or record player didn't work, there was chaos. Therefore, song and dance forms an integral part of my creativity. The whole universe dances.

What about your "serious" image?
I don't know which image you're talking about? You mean of me in a dark 'kurta' brooding in a dark room? That isn't the real me. I don't think my image gets diluted by dancing. I love dancing. Dancing is my life.

Name your favourite dancers?
My favourite dancers in Hindi cinema? Vyjayanthimala is the ultimate. I love her dances in Amrapali. I enjoy Mumtaz's vivacity and spontaneity. Motiyon ki ladi hoon main from Loafer is my favourite Mumtaz dance. Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit are also my favourites. I think Sridevi's dances in Chalbaaz and Madhuri teaming up with my favourite dancer Birju Maharaj for Kahe chede mohe in Devdas are among my golden moments as a dance aficionado.

I worshipped Waheeda Rehmanji for her snake dance in Guide. Hemaji is my favourite actress, for her grace. I adore her Ta thai tat thai dance in Tere Mere Sapne. But my real superstar dancer is Helen aunty.

My favourite dance of hers is Piya tu ab to aaja from Caravan. And my most favourite dance item featured Vyjayanthimalaji and Helen aunty in the song Muqabla humse na karo in the film Prince.

And among the male actors?
I enjoyed Govinda's dances immensely. My favourite male dancer is Hrithik Roshan.

First Published: Oct 10, 2006 21:00 IST