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Step By Step

Shabina Khan’s familiarity with every frame of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo was instrumental in her choreographing eight songs in the film, starting with the title track

On Bagging Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

I had worked with Sooraj (Barjatya) sir on Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi, which he had produced, choreographing all the songs in that film. He had told me then that he would call me for his next. So when he started work on Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, he called me for a meeting. Choreographing for his film is a huge deal for me. Initially, he offered me two songs – the title track and Jalte diye. Once I had finished choreographing those two songs, Salman sir and Sooraj sir offered me all the songs in the film. I have choreographed eight songs in the movie.

The Brief

Sooraj sir is the kind of director who briefs everyone on the sets every day. He shares his thoughts about each scene or song with everyone, from the choreographer to the set designer and spot boys, to get their feedback. I have never seen anyone else do this. Sooraj sir makes sure his songs are as grand as his films. For the title track, the brief he gave me was that the song should say everything about the film. The title track is taken from the aarti Ram ratan dhan payo, so I had to choreograph the song in a way that would do justice to the title and to the aarti.

On Getting The Actors To Dance

I have worked with Salman sir before so I knew his style, but this was the first time I was working with Sonam Kapoor. I wanted to get a sense of her style, so I watched all her films. One thing I noticed was that she has grace, be it in the way she speaks, acts or moves. I then designed steps that both could perform gracefully. This was an interesting learning experience. She is a fashionista, without a doubt, and she carries off everything so gracefully that even the steps look good. The title of the film means ‘I have found the right man’; that’s what Ram ratan dhan payo also means. So every step was choreographed keeping the film title and genre in mind.

On choreographing eight songs

I have choreographed all eight songs in the film. I believe this is because I knew the script, I was on the sets every day, and I understood every frame of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Watching the scenes being shot, I could see that none of the songs had been forcefully inserted into the film. One challenged for me was using only classical Indian dance moves, since this is a film about Indian traditions.

On Salman Khan

I have always loved to dance, so my mother had me learn Indian classical dance. While I was learning, I was chosen by Ganesh Hegde, who was making his debut as a choreographer in Khamoshi. So I have worked with Salman sir since then, after which I also assisted Ganesh Acharya and Prabhudheva. My first solo film as choreographer was Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon. But it was Prem Ratan Dhan Payo that allowed me to work closely with Salman sir, and he loved the steps I choreographed for the title track. When I first showed them to him, he said, ‘This will become viral; it’s a step which anyone can do and everyone will love.’ It is due to Sonam Kapoor too that the video went viral on social media.

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