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Making Prabhas And Diljit Dance

July 10, 2024 10:09 IST
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'Diljit and Prabhas are so similar -- very humble, down-to-earth, extremely shy introverts and at the same time, extremely talented guys.'

IMAGE: Pony Verma along with Diljit Dosanjh and Prabhas on the sets of Kalki 2898 AD while shooting the song Bhairava. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pony Verma/Instagram

Watching Prabhas and Diljit Dosanjh belt out the Bhairava Anthem is one of the highlights of Kalki 2898 AD.

And making the two superstars dance to her tune was Choreographer Pony Verma.

"Some songs are very powerful, and this is one of them," Pony tells Contributor Mohnish Singh.

Tell us about your experience of working on the popular Bhairava Anthem.

This song is the best thing to happen to me in 2024.

Six months have passed since I worked on it.

I remember when Producer Priyanka Dutt messaged me and said, 'There is a song with Diljit and Prabhas.'

I could not believe it.

I said, 'Who Diljit? Diljit Dosanjh?'

She said, yes.

I asked her to send me the song right away, and she sent me the rough version.

When I heard it, I said, 'This is a massive song, not a small one.'

She told me that it's the introduction of Prabhas' character, Bhairava. She said Diljit had agreed to sing the song and be a part of it.

Some songs are very powerful, and this is one of them.

When Diljit did the final, oh my God, it reached another level.


IMAGE: Pony Verma with Prabhas on the sets of Kalki 2898 AD while shooting the song Bhairava. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pony Verma/Instagram

Did you know it would become a chartbuster?

See, when I heard the song, I knew it would be a very big hit.

Both actors were so busy with the other commitments (when we decided to shoot the song). Diljit had to go for the Jimmy Fallon show. Prabhas was busy with other Kalki work.

We had limited time to shoot the song.

What was the shoot like?

The energy on the set was another level.

It was like an adrenaline rush.

Everybody, right from the art director to the director of photography, my producer and my team, we all were on a high.

The way visuals came out, everybody said this song would do something.

IMAGE: Diljit Dosanjh and Prabhas on the sets of Kalki 2898 AD.

Prabhas and Diljit are shy in real life. How challenging was it to choreograph such a song for them?

Absolutely. When I met them, I realised they are identical.

The only difference is that one is a North Indian and the other is a South Indian.

Their language, food and everything else could be different but nature wise, they are so similar -- very humble, down-to-earth, extremely shy introverts and at the same time, extremely talented guys.

They made it very comfortable for me on set.

They did not have extra demands that, you know, shoot me like this or shoot me like that.

I remember when I said, 'I want to see both of you with turla (a piece of cloth worn on top of turbans),' Diljit was excited because he is a Punjabi.

But Prabhas was like, 'Are you sure it's going to look nice?'

I asked him to see the image I had in mind, and if he was comfortable, we would do it.

So I sent him the image and he said yes immediately.

Was it intimidating to choreograph two superstars?

I knew Prabhas from before.

Also, it has been almost 24 years for me as a choreographer, so I have worked with every superstar.

What matters is my work.

I know how much popularity they have and on what platform they stand. But when they are coming on my sets, they are my actors and will portray my work.

IMAGE: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan in the Guzaarish title track.

How were your initial years as a choreographer?

I started choreography in 2001, for Priyadarshan's Yeh Teraa Ghar Yeh Meraa Ghar.

I have also worked with him on Hungama (2003), Hungama 2 (2021), Hulchul (2004), Garam Masala (2005), Kyon Ki (2005), Chup Chup Ke (2006) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007).

I have done films like Namaste London (2005), The Dirty Picture(2011) and Cocktail (2012).

Then, there were Guzaarish (2010) and Bajirao Mastani (2015) with Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

I started very young.

Choreographers, who were working at that time, were a little senior.

Today's times are different. Today, you change the (television) channel and see a new choreographer sitting on a platform.

This was not in our case. Since we were young, we had to convince people that we knew our job.

I would wear a loose salwar suit with a long dupatta so that people like Saroj Khan and Farah Khan took me seriously.

Also, a lot of comparison would happen with choreographers.

If you asked for the same remuneration as the male choreographers, they would question you.

There were moments of struggle, yes, but a few directors stood by me.

IMAGE: Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the song Marjaani Marjaani from Billu Barber.

Who has been the best actor to work with?

The most exciting time was when I sat with Shah Rukh Khan for Billu Barber (2009) because I think everybody wants to work with him.

That was one of my most memorable shoots too because he was the producer too. He is one of the best producers in the industry.

His team really takes care of the technicians, the way they are treated and paid.

What about your best actress?

I worked with Deepika Padukone in Chandni Chowk to China (2009), Priyanka Chopra in Billu Barber and Vidya Balan in Dirty Picture.

I wanted to make Sridevi dance to my choreography, but alas, it didn't happen.

I could not make that kind of name to get Sridevi for a dance number.

It's an unfulfilled dream.

Did you ever meet her?

Of course. She attended my wedding.

I was standing next to my husband (actor Prakash Raj) but was blushing looking at her. I could not believe the actress I was crazy about had come for my wedding.

I recently shot an ad with Janhvi Kapoor, and told her how much I adored her mother.

It's one of the best memories I have.

IMAGE: Manisha Koirala in Aaj Main Upar from Khamoshi: The Musical.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known to be a taskmaster. How was your experience of working with him?

My first song in front of a camera as an assistant was Aaj Main Upar for Khamoshi: The Musical (1996).

So Sanjay has seen me from that age, from an assistant to a full-time choreographer. That was also his first film.

I know how Sanjay works.

He is not a taskmaster, he challenges you to give your best.

What I do with other directors and what I can do with Sanjay is so different because he keeps challenging you.

He awakens your lazy creative brain. Very few directors have that quality.

Is there any actor or actress you haven't choreographed yet but want to?

Well, there are a lot of new Gen Z actors.

I have an eight-year-old son, so you know, we mommies take a break for a while, and when our kids start going to school, we think of getting back to work.

I would love to work with Alia Bhatt.

I would love to work with Ranbir (Kapoor) and Ranveer (Singh).

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