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‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’ Set to Scale New Highs in its Fifth Season

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Madhuri Dixit-Nene with other celebrities at a promotion for the dance show.
  • MUMBAI, India

    A media meet and a peep into the way the show will shape up was organized by Colors for the fifth season of “Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa,” set to go on air from June 16 on Saturdays and Sundays at 2100 hours IST.

    “Cadbury Presents Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 5” powered by Streax Hair Color gets bigger and better as the line-up of 13 celebrities now includes a teenage celeb in “Taare Zameen Par” star Darsheel Safary with a child partner and cricket ace from Sri Lanka Sanath Jayasuriya, who has won his country the World Cup. The 13th contestant is kept under wraps. The celebrity judges are Madhuri Dixit, Karan Johar and Remo D’Souza. 

    In a break from the past, the show comes in a bi-weekly weekend slot, though it will also take on the high viewership “Dance India Dance Li’l Masters.” Raj Nayak, CEO, Colors, expressed confidence that they will garner great numbers as their presence on the weekend is already strong.

    The set at Filmistan Studios in Goregaon, a Western suburb of Mumbai is the most elaborate ever for any season of the show, with the latest light projectors and other technical paraphernalia. The dance forms will take on everything from laavani to bhangra and Western and other non-Indian forms of dance.

    There will be some never-seen-before concepts like dancing to a live band, pairing up with international winners of “Dancing with the Stars” (the original BBC program on which this show is based as a licensed format) and also a tribute to 100 years of cinema. Madhuri Dixit will also present a “Step of the Week” wherein the Ek Do Teen Char diva will present futuristic grooves to international dance forms including Cha-Cha-Cha, Salsa, Samba and more. The original show is currently on in 20 countries (it has been licensed in 40 countries from inception) and is said to be the highest-rated reality show format in the world with a viewership of 215 million. It has been listed in Guinness Book of World Records as its viewers have crossed half a billion.

    Mylita Aga, general manager and creative head, BBC Worldwide Productions, India, promised a new high in entertainment in this season and stated that the show has been extensively remodeled from the original to appeal to the country’s viewers.

    After every four pairs, one of the three judges also came on stage and grooved to the theme song of the show. Each group danced to popular songs enacted by Madhuri Dixit, Remo D’Souza and Karan Johar before they made their entries. 

    The show is being anchored by Ragini Khanna and Manish.

    Talat Aziz, a ghazal veteran who has also acted in serials, stated that he was just planning to have fun and learn something new. “Though the shoot is just once a week, we are also involved with learning to dance five more days a week for at least two hours daily. There are no retakes in live dancing, unlike when I did some sequences for my film “Dhun” over 20 years ago. I must also synchronize with the partner and adapt to different styles and themes.”

    Admitting that he would have preferred more time to learn and rehearse, he also stated that when he was first invited on the show he was hesitant to agree to Raj Nayak’s offer. Nayak told him that the idea was not to be brilliant but also have fun as the very point of doing the show was that the contestants had no knowledge of dance. 

    Aziz’s choreographer Ankita, who runs her own dance academy in Mumbai, raves about her mentor. “The fact that he is older to me does not matter as I have lots of students from young children to old. But he is very eager to learn and because he is an actor who is also into music, though of a very different kind, he has an inborn sense of rhythm and also adds a lot of his own touches.”

    Rapid-Fires with the Judges

    Madhuri Dixit-Nene (Actor):

    Q: How do you look at the paradigm changes in dance and music since your days?

    A: Bollywood, as we know it, is in any case a mix of all styles, and we will be watching every kind of Bollywood dance on the show. Even today, there are songs that are rooted, and such songs will keep coming, even if the sound has changed. 

    Q: Will you be a strict judge or a lenient one, and how will you evaluate a performance?

    A: My son says that I am very stingy with giving marks (Smiles) I think that I will be an honest judge. I think that in dance the style is not important – both the dancer and the viewer must enjoy the dance. That can be easily seen. 

    Q: How will you evaluate Darsheel, who is a teenager accompanied by a young girl?

    A: By the same parameters – grace - and how much he is enjoying himself: Darsheel and the girl also have a choreographer. But yes, she will also remain behind the scenes unlike those of the other contestants.

    Q: You are one of the singers on the title-track. Will you sing on the show?

    A: I do not know! I am no singer though I did sing in a sense in “Devdas” under Pt. Birju Maharaj. My mother has learnt music though.

    Karan Johar: (Writer-Producer-Director and TV anchor):

    Q: Are you feeling out of place amidst a superstar who embodies dance in contemporary Indian cinema and a choreographer?

    A: No. And that’s because I must have shot 50 songs, all of which need choreography whether they have two stars, multiple actors or a crowd of junior artistes. I am not one of those directors who do not go on the sets when a dance is being shot. I am the director or producer of the film and the dance as filmed is a mix of the cameraman, choreographer and actors, in which I have a major say.

    Frankly, there have been cases where I have wanted to creatively suggest small nuances or changes, but Farah Khan never listens to me – you know how she is (Laughs).

    And yes, in the Holi parties from my young days at Amit Uncle’s (Amitabh Bachchan) house, it was always the no phantom-like Aditya Chopra who came first in the dance competition, Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar would share second place and Ekta Kapoor and I would tie in the third! I am a Punjabi, so dancing is in my DNA!

    Q: So what will you be looking at as a judge?

    A: The passion, just as if I am viewing the frame of a song sequence in my film! I am not going to see how well the leg and arm movements are and how much the beat is being followed, but the energy. Many of the big stars I have worked with are not great dancers, but the energy and passion they bring on to the screen is spectacular! So I am the outsider who will leave the technical part to Madhuri and Remo and judge the overall presentation. I will also keep in mind how much far a contestant’s profession is from dance. Like television stars do get to dance on screen. Finally I will see the improvement over the weeks, for which I will give extra points. But I hope that the cameras do not focus on my expressions, which are always a giveaway of what I am thinking!

    Q: Where does your fascination with TV come from?

    A: I think I always had this dream of two people, one of whom was me, sitting on a sofa and talking on TV! My father thought I was demented to think that a channel would pay me for doing that and when he arranged a deal with the producers of “Koffee With Karan,” he asked for 20 percent of what they finally paid me, though he was not alive to see that happen! He was even upset with me, saying that I was not right in taking money from channel people with whom we had an old and long relationship!

    Q: Who are your own favorite dancers among stars?

    A: Of course Madhuri for her unequaled elegance, Hrithik for how he has changed the dance technique in Hindi cinema, Shah Rukh Khan for his unmatched energy and Ranbir Kapoor for the way he makes a song and its steps look all his own. For me, dance is always primarily about expression! Dancing is the only time your body really lets go! Of course, there is Kamal Haasan, who is trained in Bharatanatyam and manages to look so masculine at the same time. Even in the weirdest song sequences, he brings grace.

    Q: You turned down reality shows most of the time. What made you accept “JDJ?”

    A: I guess it was about the offer coming at the right time. It’s a big platform and the commitment needed was once a week, which fitted with the post-production of my new film “Student Of The Year.”

    Remo D’Souza (Choreographer-Film Director):

    Q: How different is this experience after “Dance India Dance”?

    A: The concepts are completely different. I owe my fame to “DID,” but this is a very challenging show. A star in his field comes down to zero and must make it. My chief criterion as a judge will be to see how serious he or she is at learning something new rather than how great the contestant becomes. There must be growth.

    Q: Why have a trained danseuse like Isha Sharvani? Isn’t that unfair to others?

    A: Firstly, Isha’s natural expertise will be considered, like a bigger achievement by her will be on par with, say, a small feat by Sanath. All the same, let me tell you that Isha’s dances are Kalaripayattu, Chhau and Rope Malkham, which are very different from these dances and have elements of martial arts in them. So at one level, she has to unlearn and that makes it as difficult if not more for her.

    Q: Will you be helping behind the scenes too?

    A: Yes, I am the Head Choreographer and Mentor.

    Q: Who is your own guru?

    A: I am self-trained and I look at Michal Jackson as my idol.

    Q: Do you watch the work of old Hindi film legends as a part of your own learning?

    A: I do. They would experiment much more than our generation!

    Q: Your next film is on dance too.

    A: Yes, “ABCD” gives the message that anyone can dance. That fits in with the concept of this show too, and if my film is ready for release during this season, I will promote it on the show as well! (Laughs)

    Q: Are you by any chance working on any of Karan Johar’s films?

    A: Yes, I have shot a song for “Student of the Year.”

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