Way back in the old days of black-white cinema and even during the early days of colour films, the directors were truly the captain of their ships. They took an active interest in every aspect of film-making, naturally therefore no song or dance sequence or fight sequence was filmed in the absence of the director. During the eighties things began to change. I learnt that the directors handed over the reins to the dance director for the song and dance sequences and the action directors for the fight sequence. I was surprised to learn that the directors did not bother to be present on the sets or the location. Not surprisingly therefore, while the song and dance sequences blended with the film’s narrative in the past, later on and even today, the songs appear from nowhere and look more like music videos. The dance sequences remind me of aerobic exercises.
|My father in a song sequence in 'Shama'|
How I miss the dance sequences of my childhood. Back in my childhood I heard names like Lachhu Maharaj, Gopi Krishna, Sachin Shankar, all of whom were legends to whom filmmakers turned when they wanted a choreographer. While most of the choreographers were accomplished and respected classical dancers, there was Sachin Shankar a cousin of sitar maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar who had trained under the legendary Uday Shankar (Ravi Shankar’s elder brother). Shankar’s area of expertise was dance ballets and dance dramas. His shows ran to packed houses.