MUMBAI— He is starring in the first Indian silent film since 1987’s “Pushpak” (which, thank you, he has watched), and that too in a path-breaking negative protagonist’s role. Prabhu Dheva, choreographer, director, and actor, even wonders why he was cast by eminent director Karthik Subbaraj!

Excerpts from an interview:

Q: So did you ask him that?

A: I did, after it sunk in that it was a silent film. Two hours, I told him, how can there no dialogues? He told me, “Listen to the script.” I listened as he was a good director. I was very happy with what I heard, and asked him why he thought of me. He said, “Because you can do it.” So I did!

Q: Do you think that such films rely more on your expressions and body language and you as a choreographer have that as a strong point?

A: No, I don’t think so. But he had lots of confidence in me. When he explained the scene, I wanted to be spontaneous, so I told him I would not rehearse but head straight for the shot. He could correct me if I did it wrong. He agreed. You will love the film. After the 10th minute, you will feel this is not a silent film.

Q: Now that you have done it, how is the process different from that of a normal film?

A: There is no difference. This is a tough film to make but Karthik made it very easy, I am very excited. I would have gladly done any film he offered, but this was special.

Q: With a story like this, do you get inspired to direct something out of the box as well?

A (Laughs): If I offer producers something different, they say, “Good. Now let’s make a commercial film!”

Q: Why do you say we will not feel that it is a silent film after 10 minutes?

A: Because the story is that way. The last 90 minutes of 120 is the climax! It is the story of one night and you will not want to turn! In “Pushpak,” there were times when you felt that someone could have talked. But here, you will never feel, “Why are they not talking?” As audience, you will love it, love it!

Q: Dance, act and direct. How do you decide what to do next? Or do you like to mix two or all things?

A: Of the three, as a trained Bharatanatyam director, I love dancing the best, it’s the most fun! But I like to do all things simultaneously, like I am doing five Tamil films as actor now, and directing Varun Dhawan and Katrina Kaif in a T-Series film.

Q: Aren’t you also producing a Tamil film too?

A (Smiles): Yes, I am, but giving money is tough. Receiving money is easy!

Q: When a choreographer turns film director, what are the advantages?

A: You know the producer very well! No, I am not joking! You know how sound he is, and he too is aware how hard I work and how sound I am technically. Besides, Farah Khan, Remo and I have proved ourselves.

Q: What do you think about dance today? Has it not moved away from Indianness and solo dancing into what are practically group gymnastics and acrobatics?

A (Ruefully): I know. It is very sad. International influences through YouTube are very powerful. I am also a victim because we are all influenced. Children are not at all interested in classical Indian dance or even folk. In our time, our parents were very strong, and we were scared of them, so they would decide what was good or bad for us. Now, we are like friends to our children, sometimes scared of them, like I am of my son! But he is not scared of me. I really do not know how this can be corrected. It is good that our dance forms are still popular in foreign countries.

Q: Among our actors, who do you love as dancers?

A: Hrithik Roshan and Shahid Kapoor are too good. I recently worked with Katrina Kaif – what a hard worker she is. So also Aamir Khan-sir and Amitabh Bachchan-sir, with all three of whom I recently worked on a song in “Thugs Of Hindostan.” Shraddha Kapoor is too good too, and we would rehearse so much between shots during “ABCD 2.” Jacqueline Fernandez is also excellent. These are people I have worked with. Among others, Tiger Shroff is like a dream, though I have not yet worked with him.

Q: What about Salman Khan, whom you direct in”Dabangg 3?”

A (Instantly): He is the best! No, seriously. Sir is super-cool. If you see his rehearsals for the “Da-Bangg” tour shows, you will know much he works hard. Without something within, you cannot get there.

Q: What works more in dance – talent or interest?

A: Interest works most. With passion and hard work, you can be great!

Q: Has the cast of “Dabangg 3” been decided?

A: I am the only newcomer! Arbaaz Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, music directors Sajid-Wajid – they are all old.

Q: How much interest do you take in music as a director and as a choreographer?

A: As a director, I sit on the music with passion. I leave the choreography to others. As a choreographer, I request them not to give me situational songs that restrict me!

Q: Does dance de-stress you, like it does for most?

A: Dancing for me is work, not a stressbuster!

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