Exclusive: Shiamak Davar on IIFA Choreography, Best Performers & Greatest Dance Songs

Rashmi Daryanani , 24 May 2014
Madhuri Dixit, Shiamak Davar, Hrithik Roshan
Madhuri Dixit, Shiamak Davar, Hrithik Roshan

Shiamak Davar was the choreographer for all performances at the recently-held IIFA awards, meaning that he’s the man responsible for all the fantastic dance acts you’ll be seeing on your television screen some time soon! MissMalini recently caught up with him to find out all the details about him choreographing the show, like how many performances are actually live, which performers he has the most creative freedom with, and what it was like choreographing John Travolta! Read on for the conversation.

MissMalini: Hi Shiamak thanks for your sweet message from IIFA :) we LOVED all the sneak peeks and are excited to here more so here goes!

Shiamak Davar, Hrithik Roshan, Viraaf
Shiamak Davar, Hrithik Roshan, Viraaf

MM: Which unexpected couple surprised you with their dancing chemistry?

Shiamak Davar (SD): Mika Singh has such an electric energy on stage and while he was performing, Hrithik Roshan took to the stage in an impromptu surprise jig! The audience was on their feet; it was the perfect combination of high energy music and some really cool dance moves!

MM: Who is the best dancer from the new/younger lot?

SD: Deepika Padukone is extremely talented. She is so hard working and professional. I love choreographing and working with her.

Shiamak Davar, Deepika Padukone
Shiamak Davar, Deepika Padukone

MM: How did the American audience react to the Bollywood song and dance?

Every year, IIFA takes Bollywood to a new destination and this is a beautifully opportunity for us to share our culture with the world. America is extremely open to accepting various cultures. There is a large Indian Diaspora in the States who love Bollywood. The response was fantastic! There loved all the colors and celebration. Bollywood is huge internationally, everyone knows about it so this was a great way to show them the best of Bollywood.

Kevin Spacey and Shiamak Davar
Kevin Spacey and Shiamak Davar

MM: What was it like teaching Travolta dance moves? How did he react?!

We’ve all grown up watching dance based films like Saturday Night Fever and Grease. In fact I’ve played John Travolta‘s character Danny in Grease. So for me, this was all too surreal! I was like a child, extremely excited! I took his popular moves and gave it a Bollywood twist. He was so sweet and it was an absolute pleasure choreographing him.

Shiamak Davar and John Travolta
Shiamak Davar and John Travolta

MM: In 11 years of IIFA, tell us one constant thing that you have kept in mind while choreographing performances.

Bollywood is a larger than life experience, and this is what I’ve tried to bring out each year with all performances. It’s like creating multiple live movies on stage with each star and their performance. It’s all about educating people of different cultures about Indian Cinema, entertaining them with a power-packed show and empowering them through the arts!

Shiamak Davar at IIFA
Shiamak Davar at IIFA

MM: What, according to you, is the most important factor in a performance besides choreography?

There is a lot that goes into making a performance look good other than just choreography. From the sets, properties and costumes to music and production. The idea is to bring out the best in each star and portray that through their performance

Shiamak Davar at IIFA
Shiamak Davar at IIFA

MM: Who is your favorite Bollywood actor & actress to choreograph?

There are lots!!!! Of course Madhuri Dixit is always a favorite. Hrthik and Shahid Kapoor amongst the actors for their great dance ability. And an ultimate favorite is the Bachchan family – Big B, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan are made for the stage… the energy is inspiring!

Sonakshi Sinha, Shiamak Davar
Sonakshi Sinha, Shiamak Davar

MM: What 5 Bollywood songs do you LOVE dancing to most?

To perform on stage some of my favorite Bollywood songs from yesteryears to now are Sapno Ki Rani, Dus Bahane, Dhoom Machale, Disco Deewane, Ishq Wala Love.

Bipasha Basu, Shiamak Davar
Bipasha Basu, Shiamak Davar

MM: Which Bollywood star did you have the most creative freedom with?

Honestly, all! I think over the years you build a trust and they know what they are being taught and trained in will bring out the best in them. From legends like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan to all the new comers… there is a certain sense of creative freedom that allows me to give it my best every time.

Kareena Kapoor, Shiamak Davar
Kareena Kapoor, Shiamak Davar

MM: Honestly: how many of these performances are pre-recorded, and how many are live?

At IIFA all performances have been live always!

MM: What’s the hardest part of doing a live show?

You know I love the stage, it really is home to me. Just the rush you get, the energy you from the audience it’s amazing. No retakes, no second chances! You get a first hand response to your work and there is no better feeling

Shiamak Davar and Sidharth Malhotra
Shiamak Davar and Sidharth Malhotra

MM: Did this year’s IIFA have any major goofs on stage?

Preparations and rehearsals start way in advance so there is really no room for goof ups! Wizcraft manages events so well, it was quite an experience for the audience! All the chaos, costume changes etc backstage, the hysteria… but once the lights come on, it’s always picture perfect for the audience!

MM: What do you do when an actor/actress has 2 left feet?!

My motto has always been ‘Have Feet. Will Dance.’! So I take it up as a challenge to make sure they look fantastic on stage or on screen. They are primarily actors, to make them look good dancing is the choreographer’s job.

MM: Name one Indian and one International celebrity you would LOVE to choreograph!

Indian has to be Helenji, and international, Madonna!

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