Exclusive: Choreographer Sekhar Master’s interview

His dance moves set both small and big screens ablaze. Mastering the craft of dance choreography film by film, Sekhar Master has touched a new peak in his career spanning 15 years. One of the most sought-after dance choreographer in Tollywood, Sekhar master speaks on the challenges that he faced working with big stars Megastar Chiranjeevi and Nandamuri Balakrishna for their upcoming big-budget flicks releasing on Sankranthi, and more….

Q) How difficult was it for you to handle both big stars on film sets?
I didn’t know that these films are being released in theatres this Sankranthi festival. Unknowingly we worked on the songs without much pressure, but after knowing that these films are being released for the festival, I’m a bit nervous now. It was cool working with both of them. I was at complete ease.

Q) Was any pressure exerted on you since both have a massive fanbase?
I don’t know how to react, honestly, But I am enjoying the process. I choreographed a couple of songs for Nandamuri Balakrishna’s ‘Veera Simha Reddy’ and worked on all songs in Megastar Chiranjeevi’s flick ‘Waltair Veeraya’. Undoubtedly, it’s going to be a festival for millions of fans and a big moment for me too.

Q) Was there any psychological plan adopted by you while dealing with these big Telugu stars?
As a choreographer, I always think about the ingredients required for a song. Then, the actor comes into the picture. How movements suit the body language of the actor. Based on his style and posture, dance moves are designed. So there was nothing plan as such.

Q) Signature steps are currently in vogue. How do you define this trend that is prevalent among both big and small actors?
Reels and short videos have become popular these days. Irrespective of the story and big star cast, audiences would own a film based on the signature step that is out on social media. It has become a trend if a signature step becomes a hit, eventually, it changes the whole equation. How it would look on the screen is secondary. Take the example of ‘Super machi’ single which was a raze at the box office. Then ‘Blockbuster’ has its own twist. All those singles were a sort of blazing hits banked solely on the signature steps.

Q) What’s the unique quality that you were attracted to in Megastar Chiranjeevi and Nandamuri Balakrishna?
Dedication towards the craft. Senior stars won’t relax or show any signs of laidback until they finish the work on film sets. Another laudable quality is their timing sense. Probably, because of their seniority in the craft, they show utmost care in every aspect of their work.

Q)You’ve been working with both senior stars and new emerging actors. How challenging it is working with seniors in the industry?
Working with seniors is quite easy. It is very comfortable and happy in fact. It doesn’t mean that new crop of actors are tough to work with. Basically, film producers want the work to be completed within the set time. Seniors would want the work to be completed on one go which in fact saves everyone’s time.

Q) What experiments do you do usually to bring a new freshness into the dance choreography?
Dance moves come intuitively when we first listen to a song. However, I would show three to four versions of dance moves for the same song. Everything comes out of practice. New dance movements usually take shape with a lot of experimentation. The composition for a song is usually made prior to the scheduled day of shooting. But changes keep coming only if locations are pleasing

Q) Which is given more importance, music or lyrics?
Preferably, the importance is given to the beat. If both beat and lyrics are equally dominating, dance movements shall be composed balancing both.

Q) What’s the most challenging part in composing dance for ‘Waltair Veerayya’?
Usually, the practice in Tollywood was that a new choreographer is roped for each song to bring in variety of dance composition. That’s key challenge for me to bring freshness, and not to repeat the movement that I’ve done earlier in the previous song. Melody songs are the most challenging ones. It was freezing cold when we flew to Europe to shoot a single. The lead pair Chiranjeevi garu and Shruti Haasan in their costumes had tough time. Any small error or if movement went out of sync, they would ask for a retake. It was challenging for everyone to bring perfection for the song. Chiru sir and Shruti garu would do it again before the camera bearing minus temperature without any safety gear. Later, while shooting for ‘Suguna Sundari’ single in Turkey it was scorching Sun. It was quite a challenging task for us to work in two extreme weather conditions.

Q) All top stars in the film industry want to work with you. How do you define the current phase of your career?
It is sheer luck. I’ve no words to describe it. Who would get such an opportunity? It’s God’s gift. Shuffling the schedules is somewhat tricky to handle. I’d finish the works of the films that I first commit and then look into the next one. In case of necessity, I’ve to request or convince producers and take a decision.

Q) Do you have plans to venture into acting?
No, I am good with dance choreography as of now. I might think over the option of donning a hat as a filmmaker later if I’ve any scripts at hand if I think it’s worth bringing before Telugu audiences.

 

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