Excerpts from interview with choreographer Nishchal Sharma, known for his work on reality show Dance Deewane. He trains contestants Gunjan Sinha, Somansh Dangwal, and Sahil & Anjali on Dance Deewane 3.
Were you keeping unwell?
I recently contracted a liver infection and therefore, I was hospitalized for 3-4 days. We were in Daman to shoot for an episode. But I suddently fell sick. I had taken Covid-19 vaccine on 12th June but due to exertion, I got fever and felt very weak. So, I had to get hospitalised.
Are you taking a break from Dance Deewane 3?
No, I am not taking a break. Fortunately, my team and the entire team of Dance Deewane and Colors channel are very supportive. They asked me to take rest for a while. Meanwhile, my team has taken over. I am in touch with them virtually. You will just not see me for a week so that I can take rest and come back to the show with full force.
How has been your experience on Dance Deewane so far?
This is my 3rd season. I am working on the show as a choreographer since season 1. And now, this show feels like home. Fortunately, the show is also working well. Every day is a learning process on the show. This time, the contestants are mind-blowing and we have to brainstorm a lot to bring something new every time. It has been a wonderful experience till now. And I hope more seasons come out in the future and the team comes together every time.
What are the challenges you face while training the kids?
Kids are quick learners. But they are so active and energized, so we have to be very thoughtful, be it choreography, tricks or stunts. So, it is easy and difficult at the same time. I recently performed with Aman. He is so active and brilliant that it took me a while to match his energy.
The contestants this time are amazing. Even though we have to brainstorm a lot, but eventually they perform it beautifully and with perfection.
Is there a contestant who is too quiet or too mischievous?
Yes, there are many! In Generation 2, we have contestant Arundhati who is very quiet in real life. She is very reserved and just sits in a corner. On the other hand, we have Sahil, Anjali and Piyush, they are so mischievous. They do pranks all the time. But they all are good kids, so we are happy.
You performed with Aman last month. What were your feelings when you came on stage as a performer?
My journey has been weird in a good way. I have been working backstage for 8-9 years. And I used to get offers to perform on-screen but I was happy backstage. But this time, I changed my mind (lockdown effect) that I should come on-screen.
It took me a lot of courage to perform on stage because I was very nervous. It’s different when you teach someone and when you perform on stage. The energy and the vibe is very different.
I was very nervous before the act but when the song played, I told myself, ‘Nishchal, this is what you were waiting for, and now is the time to prove.’ So, I kept aside all the nervousness when the song played. Fortunately, everyone loved my performance. So, it was an amazing experience.
Will we see you on-stage more often in the future?
Yes, definitely. I was to perform with Somansh this weekend. I went to shoot for the same in Daman when I got sick. Everything was ready and I was fully prepared. But I got sick just 2 days before the shoot and I had to get hospitalized. Everyone was asking me about my next performance and I wanted to give them a surprise this weekend, but unfortunately, this is not happening. I had a severe liver infection and the doctors asked me not to perform. I am just lucky to have Hardik, a member of my team who replaced me at the last moment. He learned the choreography within two days for the weekend’s performance. The audience will love it when it airs. Though I feel bad that I couldn’t do it but health comes first.
You performed in front of Madhuri Dixit. Were you nervous?
As I told you earlier that I was nervous before the act and not during it. I have choreographed Madhuri Ma’am on several occasions like any events or openings. So, I have been her choreographer many times. But even she didn’t know that I was gonna perform on stage. She was surprised to see me and asked me to do it more often so that the audience recognize and enjoy my talent.
Madhuri Ma’am has this signature on show, it is a whistle that is hard to get from her. But she whistled for me that day. So, it was a big achievement for me. And she is gorgeous. She is the most beautiful lady I have ever seen in my life.
I have been on the show for three seasons but I never clicked a picture with her. So, this time, I went up to her and told her, “Ma’am it took me 3 years to ask for a picture with you.’ She was like, ‘You are mad. You should have come a long time ago. But I am happy that you have earned it by performing so well.’ So, that’s how I got a picture with her.
You said that you waited for Tushar Kalia’s compliment for 7 years.
Yes. I call him Tushar Bhai because he is like an elder brother to me. He is a very good friend and mentor. I have been working with him since the beginning of my career in this industry. Right from his first film to his latest music videos, I have been working with him. We share a good bond but he never said ‘I am proud of you’.
But when he said it that day, I felt very happy and blessed. He is very tough and strict. It is a task to get a compliment from him. He doesn’t appreciate those he cares about because he thinks that the other person might become lenient in his work if he appreciates. But I was finally happy to earn a compliment from him.
How do you feel to receive such validation on National Television?
Yes, it feels amazing. I have known all three judges for years. And my first on-screen performance was in front of all three of them together. It seems like it was meant to happen. For me, it was overwhelming and it just felt like a dream come true. I feel relieved that my years of struggle have paid off and people are appreciating me.
As a mentor, which judge is hard to please? And which one is easy to please?
It is not easy at all. Madhuri Ma’am goes with the vibe and how she feels at the moment. She enjoys a performance if she likes the energy. Dharmesh Sir looks into the technicalities.
According to me, it is very hard to impress Tushar Bhai because he is very particular about things. If he doesn’t like it, he will tell you that. And as I said that it took me 7 years to get a compliment from him, so he is the hardest to please.
What is more difficult- choreographing in films or reality shows?
Bot are difficult. In reality shows, we have just 5 days to prepare and we shoot on 6th and 7th day that you finally see on the next weekend. So, there’s less time and more work on reality shows.
But in films, we have more time. But there’s the stress of getting that one perfect shot. The two and a half minute song that you see, it takes us 3-4 days to shoot that sometimes.
Both are time taking but I enjoy both. But I am more inclined towards films because I love camera. Reality shows are more stressful because of time constraints.
Which films have you been associated with?
My first film was Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Its ‘Break Up Song’ was my first work as an assistant choreographer. Then we did ‘Ok Jaanu’, ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’, ‘The Zoya Factor’ and ‘Namaste England’. We did a few Punjabi films as well. And now we are shooting more this year.