Seemaa Desai is the daughter of veteran choreographers Pappu Khanna and Indumati. She debuted as an assistant director and moved to choreography much later. Her big break was with Golmaal 3.
Since, my parents are choreographers, dancing is in my genes. I have learnt semi-classical dance but I never thought I would make a career of it. I was always interested in directing films and I started as an assistant director with BR Chopra Films, working on ad films. When I was in college, I did some dance shows and was thrilled about dancing. I also watched Farah Khan and Ahmed Khan choreographing songs and gradually, things fell in to place and I moved to choreography.
My first project as a choreographer was with Paritosh Painter’s English play which had some dance sequences in it. Thankfully, as I belonged to this industry, I never had to struggle or assist any choreographers. I started on my own as people knew about my capabilities. After theatre, I did a few music videos, among which was Adnan Sami’s video. It became a hit and I was in. Then I choreographed for many T-Series video albums. My first break as an individual choreographer in the film industry was with the film Flat, which released pretty late but the dance and song sequences were nice.
Golmaal 3 in 2010 changed the course of my career completely. I choreographed the song Disco dancer for the film. The industry loved my work and so did the audience. Before that, I had choreographed more than 40-50 songs but just one big banner and one big name made all the difference. After Golmaal 3 (Disco dancer), I did Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji (Yeh dil nakhrewala) and Son Of Sardaar (Halki halki).
Choreography Is Not Easy
Earlier, choreography was not easy as there were gurus and one had to get promoted by them. Today, you get to assist choreographers and get your own platform via reality shows. To be a choreographer, one has to know how to execute a song creatively. It is like directing a song. It’s called ‘musical direction’ Like direction, choreography is also about story-telling. I have seen some great reality show dancers who couldn’t make a career out of choreography. My experience in directing helped me grow as a choreographer.
Usually, technicians don’t have any face value but with reality shows and marketing and promotions, some technicians do get recognition. Most choreographers who have a name have worked in the industry for a very long time but it’s only, recently, with reality shows that they have become popular.
When a song is accompanied by adance, it’s not hard to choreograph. But when there’s only a romantic sequence or a sad sequence, choreographing a song is tough. Here, the actor is, say, looking at something and in these three to four minutes, the story has to move forward.