Exclusive : NTR doesn’t need practice: Dance Master Radha Krishna

Y. Sunita Chowdhary

Choreographer Radha Krishna belongs to one of those Telugu families that settled in Chennai long back. He picked up dance very quickly and would be a regular dancer in a children’s group in movies. Be it Ali’s Allaudin Adbutha Deepam or Govinda’s movies or for that matter, any south cinema, he would be called for the regular song and dance on kids. His aunt was a background dancer and he got into the field quite easily. He knew this was his passion and this is all what he knew and worked towards being perfect in all the assignments. Radha Krishna even danced on stage while in Murugan Master’s team and finally moved to Hyderabad in 2000. He got his union card which he applied for, on dance director Lawrence’s advice.Dance Master Radha KrishnaIn a conversation with Klapboardpost.com, he advises aspiring dancers who are looking for a career in the film industry not to be disheartened if they don’t get a chance to work and there are many options to look at. “Many people come here to become dance masters or choreographers but they are seldom given a chance. It is a long journey from being spotted, selected and given work to sustaining yourself in the industry. There are so many reality shows, dance shows on television like Indian Idol, Magadheera etc and other stage shows. Dancing for cinema is a gone thing, to show talent, one should be exploring cover songs, album songs, Youtube songs and television shows. There are umpteen channels and one is sure to find an opportunity,” he says. Though he has been here for more than a decade dancing, composing for small and big ticket movies, the greatest satisfaction of composing dance for a yet to be released film Akashavani is inexplicable he adds. He refuses to reveal anything about the subject except for the fact that he had choreographed three numbers and one is composed by Prem Rakshith. The film is one of its kind in Telugu cinema, he remarks.radha krishna-mahesh babuAsk him what the card is all about and he says it is a licence to work here and only those who are qualified get it. From doing dishes to driving to dancing, everything is a skill here, it is a craft. Only the best bag, the card and their interests are taken care of by the union. If there are 100 appearing for a dance test, only 50 get selected. All our remunerations go to the union and it comes to us through them. Any issues that need to be resolved are done by their intervention. If someone doesn’t pay, the producer’s film is stuck in the lab for want of clearances from the 24 Crafts. Only when the clearance letter is signed, the film is out in the theatres. He has great fondness for Chennai and states that it is a place where all technicians, musicians, dancers are available in plenty and that is where Telugu cinema once flourished. All dance masters would come to Hyderabad from Chennai but it slowly stopped from 2006; New dancers started making their space and locals hot enough work and Hyderabad is self-sufficient.nani-radha krishna“My first assignment as a choreographer was in a Tamil film dubbed into Telugu and it was PR man and journalist Suresh Kondeti’s solo. That was followed by Pratighatana starring Charmme, Naga Shourya’s Dikkulu Chudaku Ramaiyya, Vangaveeti and a few more. The hierarchy is like this, first you make an entry as a background dancer, then you turn into an assistant dance master and after five years of work, you are moved to the top spot as a dance master,” he says. Ask him if the directors share the entire story to them, the answer is a no. They just give them a situation, mood of the characters before the song but for the montages they do tell them the story. Directors don’t do montages as they have very little time and each song has a minimum of 150 shots. There will be cuts and number of costumes, locations are more in number for montage fights and songs. About the success and failure, he says “I worked as an assistant to Prem Rakshit who worked for Bahubali. If the film is a hit, you become famous and get work. All that matters is sentiment here, mundhu yenaka alochincharu. Even if the song and dance is good and film flops, it means none have seen the film. In a film, each song is choreographed by different dance masters because they don’t have dates. Not all get a single card. Also the director prefers change and variety in composition which comes from different choreographers.”Radha Krishna-NtrEach master is a specialist in a particular area, though he knows everything. Their forte could be folk, duet, foreign song or item number etc. Once they do one song and it becomes a hit, they follow the same pattern as the filmmakers ask for similar stuff in their next film. Now there are hardly any intro songs and item songs these days and the audience is very bored and they even walk out for a break when it is time for the song and dance in the film. People don’t connect to it anymore, they prefer realism. They even make fun of heroes and their dance moves that happen not because the dance master gives those steps. Some actors follow dance masters sincerely and some don’t listen, They do what they want and say that it is their style and the dance masters shouldn’t disturb it. Choreographers have no option but do as heroes say. To understand what the hero is all about and his likes and dislikes, a director moves around with him for months before the film begins otherwise he is sure to get a shock when the shoot starts. Getting to know their psyche is very important but choreographers don’t have that luxury.radha krishna-rajamouliRadha Krishna reveals, “I developed great rapport with the heroes even while I was a dancer and an assistant master. All these heroes were living in Chennai at one point of time. During the shoot, the Tamil dancers would be in the front and the Telugu dancers behind, because the master is a Tamilian. I would be right next to the star and you can see me in many movies. NTR out of the many stars has elephantine memory and is an amazing dancer. Give him a page of dialogues, he will give it a glance and will say he is ready for the shot. Others will shiver, put the paper aside, get worried and will say let us do it tomorrow. I choreographed Rajamoli’s son’s sangeet and trained them all. Amongst heroines, Tamanna is the best dancer. She is very dedicated and comes for rehearsals for two days and works hard till she gets it right. Others don’t do that. Sometimes there will be non availability of dates so we reduce the steps. NTR doesn’t need practice, he comes to the spot, looks at our work and says ‘take’. We work so hard and compose and he does it in a jiffy. Once Aamir Khan was stupefied by NTR’s dance in Simhadri and asked him how he manages to be so flexible when he is on the heavier side.”Radha Krishna-avika gorThese days heroes are asking for stylised songs which they get to see in Bollywood. After the intrusion of OTT platforms into our lives, there is very little work for dancers. We see dance in cinema but not on OTT, the trend has changed clearly. “Dancers and fighters have lost work. There are more montages now. Though choreographers have worked for montages too, it is not too cerebral, not much to think. Nagarjuna did the Asta Lakshmi step in a film and the step which is similar became popular as Butta Bomma. We started the trend of dancing on the floor in Nachore Nachore in Yama Donga. The knees hurt when you do this. radha krishnaRam Pothineni’s knees also got affected when he did Ready and other films. They get swollen and it can be damaged if you pressure on it; it doesn’t help even if you wear knee caps.You have to do that one step four hours or half a day. It has become a comedy now. Once upon a time when you do a risky step, people would exclaim and applaud. Now even Sampoornesh Babu is doing it. “Dosa veyyatam, pindi rubbatam is the trend now. Dance has become easy,” he quips. Finally we ask if they get enough time to compose steps and the dancer with fifteen years of experience in the industry says, “when the track is given to us, the song is not ready, so we compose it in our mind, practise it. When the song is done, we make minute changes and finally the full dance is ready.”

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