A big man with a bigger heart Ganesh Acharya has made many actors dance to his moves. He is one of the
top most choreographers in the film industry and his dance steps are followed by millions. The latest being “Maston Ka Jhund” in Bhaag Milkha Bhaa which won him the National Award. A master of choreographing item songs, Ganesh has been in this business when the term was not even properly coined. Remember “Koi Jaaye To Le Aaye” with Mamta Kulkarni or “Aisa Jaadu Dala Re” with Lara Dutta. Later he made Bipasha Basu simmer in “Beedi Jalai Le” and Katrina Kaif in “Chikni Chameli” with his steps being followed by young girls across the country.
Along the way Ganesh developed a happy knack for appearing in songs and later turned to direction as well where he directed thought provoking films like Swami. With a strong screen presence, it was just a matter of time that he is offered a role in films. Fellow choreographer introduced him in “ABCD” and recently he did a full- fledged role in Hey Bro.
Excerpts from an interview:
How did you get into dancing? Did you want to become an actor at the same time?
I am basically meant for dancing, not for acting. I have been dancing since my childhood though I have never taken any training for the same. My father who had a big name in choreography expired when I was just 10. It was then that I realized that I have to earn for a living, because I was staying in a slum area in Mumbai.
At one point you developed a happy knack of appearing in songs that you choreographed?
When I was choreographing ‘Koi Jaye To Le Aaye’ from ‘Ghatak’. Rajkumar Santoshi ji told me that Javed Jafri and Prabhudeva will be coming. Then the song continued till 7 days but no one came and we were worried because it was a very nice song with Anu Malik’s voice. We thought what we should do. I thought what if I appear in the song and hence I became the face for the song. And it turned out to be a hit. Then there’s one more song from the film Bichchu, ‘Ishq-e-Zanjeero Me Giraftar Hojaye’ and also ‘Nikal Le Bahiyya Sambhal Le’ from the movie Road. They also became popular. People started thinking that I am a lucky charm. Everyone started saying that whenever I was there in a song it becomes a hit. Then later, I stopped giving appearances in the songs.
Who gave you your first break as an actor?
There’s a director from south who approached me for acting. Initially I refused, but the man actually stood outside my office for 2 days. Then he showed me something on his laptop. It was a negative role and it had been portrayed so well that I changed my mind. It was about a man who took revenge from his brother’s murderers and I really liked the role. ‘Rowthiram’ was the film’s name and it was a hit down south. And then I was flooded with many good offers, but was worried about the choreography because I used to be so busy that I hardly got any time to act.
What made you work in ABCD?
One day Remo came to my place and said that he was planning to do a movie in which he wanted me to act. And I was like, “Oh not again” (laughed). He told me that Prabhudeva is also a part of the movie and since I had such a good fan following, he wanted me to be a part, as it would help the movie. I said, “Ok” and told him that I had very few dates; 21-22 days was all I had. Then he portrayed me in a character named ‘Gopi’, who lived in a slum and supported his friend. The audience loved it. Then people started thinking that I would continue as an actor.
Since you were very busy as a choreographer then, what made you take up ‘Hey Bro’?
Ajay Chandhok saw my role in ‘ABCD’ and showed me a script of twin brothers. My first reaction was it’s a very old concept; people have already seen Salman Khan’s ‘Judwa’ long back. What’s going to be new in this? He said no it’s different, in the sense that the brothers are twins but not with the same face. One will be 200 kg and the other around 70-80 kg. Then he dictated me the story and I said, “Okay, if my wife Vidhi Acharya would want to produce this then let’s do it.” After that I fell in love with the story but wondered from where will we get this 200 kg’s man? He said that, “The 200 kg man is sitting right in front of me” and I just laughed.
Do you think your dancing skills helps you in acting because it’s all about expressions?
No. I don’t think so. If it would be like that then many of the choreographers from the past would have got a name in acting. It’s very difficult. In choreography, it’s like you compose a song, you give the steps but you are behind the cameras and you have no idea about the character. Now it’s the actor’s part to transform the choreography by matching it with his/her character in the film.
You have choreographed many actresses and did a very popular track ‘Chikni Chameli’ from Agneepath. What challenges did you face while choreographing them?
I love choreographing for actresses and I actually give them a makeover from costumes to styling. That’s all what I usually do. There was that song ‘Chamma Chamma’ from China Gate and ‘Aisa Jadu Dala Re’; apart from choreography what people loved in these songs was the whole attire complementing the steps. I first refused to choreograph for ‘Chikni Chameli’. Then I got to know that it was Katrina Kaif who would be doing that and I took the challenge of making Katrina dance on a Marathi number, as she generally danced on Arabian or hip hop numbers. I love it when people appreciate me and my work especially the small girls. They always like these item songs like ‘Chikni Chameli’ and Kareena’s ‘Halkat Jawani’.
How was the experience of getting directed by someone else?
I didn’t feel as if someone else is directing me because I knew that guy but the one thing I would want to say is if your friend is directing the film then you have to get ready to face that torture (laughed). As a choreographer I have my own preference of sleeping after I eat something but he used to call me up on the sets by 5:00 a.m. sometimes and didn’t let me eat. Ajay is a very hardworking person. We worked on a film called ‘Chatur’ in South Africa and we used to party a lot. We have enjoyed each other’s company so much that I had told this man that I would like to work with him in my home production. Since I had very few dates I want to thank him for managing everything to complete it all in one schedule. It was a very short span of time. I appreciate him for he worked not as a director but as a friend.