Thursday, July 18, 2024

An interview with Kamal Nath- Well-known Bollywood choreographer

Naba Kumar Sharma

Rinku Sharma

Kamal Nath is a renowned choreographer from Assam, who has made a name for himself in the Bollywood film industry. With a career spanning over four decades, his choreography has graced many films. He has choreographed several leading Bollywood actors. Some of them include the likes of Mithun Chakraborty, Govinda, Kamal Haasan, and Jaya Prada. Apart from Bollywood, he has worked in the Marathi, Bengali, and Assamese film industries too, to name a few. Let us learn more about his journey, learnings, and work in this exclusive interview.

Born in Assam, you have made a name for yourself as a choreographer in Mumbai; tell us about your journey there.

I’m an Assamese native from the Maniari hamlet near Changsari, Guwahati. I left my home in Assam forty years ago. Then I travelled to Mumbai. In Mumbai, I lacked any connection or link, as I was entirely new to the city. However, Bollywood was always my dream, and I have been drawn to it for a long time. So I moved forward with courage and tenacity. I was employed in a lodge in the Madhya Pradesh town of Harda before moving to Mumbai.

Dadar used to be the headquarters of the film industry when I lived in Mumbai. I once got the opportunity to watch a film shoot at the Dadar-based Ranjit studio. I once spotted Vinod Mehra and Amjad Khan while they were filming. After watching the shooting, I realised that I was starving. A restaurant was close by, and a person working the restaurant saw my condition and drove me there and gave me something to eat. The young man also offered me a small job at the eatery. Luckily, I found out that the Cine Dancers Association was in front of the restaurant. I grew close to the Association’s members and began taking dance classes there. There, Krishna Gopi Acharya soon became my very first guru. Later, I developed my skills as a dancer there and established myself as a choreographer. My first films as a solo choreographer were the Marathi film Rangat Sangat and the Hindi film Solah Satrah. In this way, I soon became known as a choreographer.

How many Bollywood films have you worked on so far?

I have worked in over 500 Bollywood films as a dance director. Apart from this, I have also worked as a stage dance director in various international shows in various places, including USA, Canada, New Zealand, Dubai, France, Venice, Norway, Africa, etc.

Aside from Hindi, what other languages have you worked in?

Other than Hindi, I have worked in films in Oriya, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, Haryanvi, and Maithili, to name a few. In these movies, I worked as a choreographer. Working on films in several languages obligates me.

In which Assamese films have you worked as a choreographer?

I have worked on several Assamese movies as a choreographer. I would like to add that I am extremely happy to work in the Assamese film industry. I have worked as a choreographer in films such as I Killed Him Sir, Ronangini, Priya O Priya, Bukur Majot Jole, Debota, Chakraviyu, Anya Ek Jatra, Bondhon, Deuta Dia Bidai, I Love You, Pani, etc.

Which Bollywood actors and actresses have you choreographed?

I have choreographed several Bollywood actors and actresses, including Mithun Chakraborty, Govinda, Kamal Haasan, Jaya Prada, etc.

Do you feel any differences working as a choreographer in the Hindi film and Assamese film industries?

I feel that the Hindi film industry has a very good infrastructure and a very large budget, while the Assamese film industry has many budget limitations. So, it is natural that there are differences between the two industries because the Hindi film industry is quite huge as compared to the regional film industry. However, I think that the Assamese film industry is developing at a good pace in comparison to earlier times. We now have better infrastructure and a good budget, even for some Assamese films.

Is there a way through which Assamese dance styles could be included in Bollywood?

Assamese dance has already had a significant impact on the Hindi film industry, as many talented men and women from Assam are working in various sectors of Bollywood. The recent entry of the Bihu dance in Assam in the Guinness Book of World Records has made Assamese dance acceptable on the international stage.

What do you think of the dance standards of Assamese cinema?

In my view, Assamese cinema’s dance has gone international. Compared to the earlier films, our dance standard has improved. The dancing form used in Assamese movies has also become standardised internationally. The fact that our dance form has become so well-known both nationally and internationally fills all Assamese people with pride.

The RRR song “Naatu Naatu” won the Oscar for Best Original Song this year. What do you, as a choreographer, feel about this?

The dance style of the song Naatu Naatu from RRR is exclusively Indian. And it is a matter of pride for all of us that it received an Oscar. The Oscar win for Naatu Naatu makes me very delighted. I consider Naatu Naatu to be a distinctive dance and a key scene in the movie. I am therefore thrilled and glad that Naatu Naatu won the first Oscar for India.

How important is dance in films?

I believe that a movie wouldn’t be complete without dance. Dance scenes make a movie complete. If you build a house but don’t properly decorate it, the house will appear incomplete. Similarly, a movie would be incomplete if there are no dance sequences. As a result, I feel that dance is quite important in a movie.

What qualities are most important for a dancer’s or choreographer’s success?

A successful dancer should have a strong sense of rhythm. Rhythmic sense and adopting power should go together in an accomplished dancer. You ought to be familiar with the type of dance you are doing. In order to succeed as an assistant choreographer, you need to be a complete dancer. Along with it, you should have a musical body foundation. In order to be a successful choreographer, you need to be familiar with dance editing and camera angles, in addition to having the skills of a dancer and an assistant choreographer. You should be able to edit dance moves and choose camera angles that will make them appealing to viewers.

What are your plans for the future?

I wish to start a professional dancing institute in the future. I’d like to start the institute in Assam. The institute would promote Bollywood dance and music and provide a platform for the young aspirants of Assam.

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