Man with the Moves
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When Remo D'Souza was younger, growing up in the small town of Jamnagar, Gujarat, he had access to only one dance teacher ó Michael Jackson. For most Indians who grew up in the '80s, English music and dance were synonymous with Jackson. D'Souza's formative years, too, revolved around the King of Pop.
"Every time a Michael Jackson song played on TV, I would watch it and repeat his steps. MJ taught me popping and break dance," he states. Today, at the threshold of releasing India's first dance-based 3D film, ABCD Ė Any Body Can Dance, D'Souza attributes this achievement to his "teacher".
The idea of making a dance-based film took germ in D'Souza's mind many years ago, soon after he turned choreographer. However, he lacked the technical expertise to make a film and it wasn't easy to find talented dancers. "But the idea was revived when I started judging reality shows and saw the kind of talent now available in various parts of the country," says the choreographer-turned-director.
The film, he knew, would be incomplete without the presence of Prabhu Deva who was the first contemporary Indian dancer to gain nationwide popularity for his moves. Once Prabhu Deva was on board, he roped in Dance India Dance show participants Salman Yusuff Khan, Dharmesh Yelande, Punit Pathak and Vrushali Chavan to play other, key characters.
The themes of D'Souza's films are often rooted in his modest upbringing. His debut feature, FALTU, was about believing in one's dreams and aspirations, while ABCD is about living one's dream. "In Jamnagar, choreography as a profession was unheard of. So when I told my parents and my friends my dream of becoming a dancer, they were convinced I had chosen unwisely. But I insisted and shifted base to Mumbai in 1993," he says
Once in the city, he started off as a background dancer with Ahmed Khan. "I trained in all the dance forms, from krumping to folk, while on the job. I learned about Chhau when I made a film on it," he recalls.
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