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Film Bazaar dances to Khan's tune

Film Bazaar dances to Khan's tune

By Patrick Frater

Sun, 27 November 2011, 20:41 PM (HKT)

Industry News

Ace choreographer Farah KHAN delivered a welcome break from the earnest talk of finance, co-production and film projects at Goa's Film Bazaar when she gave a masterclass on the 'item song', the high concept song and dance number that adds spice to a Bollywood film.

However, these days she wants to direct.

Khan, who has designed dozens, defined the polarising item number both as an "interruption" and as "the song that defines a movie". More often than not they add nothing to the film's story, but they are of such a richness and flavour that audiences tend to treat them as a stirring high point, rather than an opportunity for a trip to the toilet. She described the best as "spicy and hot, like an Indian meal".

In her trademark frank but funny style Khan dished dirt on which actors cannot dance, explained that comedian Govinder turned up a day late the all star dance scene in her own film Om shanti om ओम शान्ति ओम (2007), while Fardeen KHAN got himself arrested in Dubai and never made it at all. She also threw out descriptions like "at her heaviest" when describing actress Katrina KAIF, or "not a dancer at all" in the case of superstar Salman KHAN.

Farah Khan confessed that her favourite routine remains 'Chaiyya Chaiyya', in 1998's Dil Se दिल से (1998), when she set Shah Rukh KHAN, Manisha Koiralla and a backup dance troupe to perform an energetic routine on the roof of a steam train. She said that there was little in the way of health and safety precautions in those days – apart from a man who would call out before they approached a tunnel or bridge. It took five days to complete.

And she used the example to score another industry point for Bollywood inventiveness – in regulatory matters. She said that the new James Bond film, Skyfall, had recently been refused permission to shoot in India after requesting a permit to film on the railways. Dil Se was also refused a permit to shoot in a station, but the ban did not prevent her using a moving train.

Khan said that that for all the attention paid to item songs and the career breaks they achieve for young actresses, item numbers are of limited power. They can help a film's opening weekend box office, but cannot save a bad movie from commercial failure.

She added that the budgets available for item numbers have swelled, but the end results have not always meant better dance routines on screen. "Sometimes having less money makes you more creative," she said.

Khan, who achieved huge success as a director with Om Shanti Om, but saw her recent Tees Maar Khan तीस मार ख़ान (2010) flop, recently arranged five dance routines for husband Shirish KUNDER's upcoming 3-D film Joker (2012). But she still says directing her own films is her biggest current passion.

She is currently working on Happy New Year, which she described as a cross between Oceans Eleven and The Full Monty. Produced by Kunder through their Three's Company Production, the film will first attach a star cast before being taken as a package to the major studios to finance and distribute.

She rounded off the session by roping in industry executives including National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) head Nina LATH GUPTA for a couple of easy, but typically sassy Bollywood, dance moves.

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