Saturday, July 20, 2024

Vaibhavi Merchant interview Leke Prabhu Ka Naam (Tiger 3)

Vaibhavi Merchant discusses starting the year with Besharam Rang in Pathaan and finishing it with Leke Prabhu Ka Naam in Tiger 3 in an exclusive conversation.

With Besharam Rang (Pathaan), Tum Kya Mile, Kudmayee, Dhindhora Baaje Re (Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani), Not Ramaiya Vastaviya (Jawan), and now Leke Prabhu Ka Naam (Tiger 3), renowned choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant has had a fantastic year in the movies.

She discusses creating the Tiger franchise’s theme song and dance in an exclusive interview, as well as the differences in dancing styles between Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, and Katrina Kaif. Take-outs:

Leke Prabhu Ka Naam has taken the place of two popular songs, Mashallah (from Ek Tha Tiger) and Swag se Swagat (Tiger Zinda Hai). How did you provide some freshness while still creating a sense of familiarity with the characters and their setting?

I’ve followed Zoya and Tiger’s path from their first date to marriage, having a child, and a twist in Tiger 3 that I’m not allowed to discuss. Mashallah arrived at a time when they were rejoicing over their unity and Pakistan’s acceptance of an Indian spy. Tiger’s demonstration that, despite having left his country, he is not a deserter made Swag Se Swagat possible, a celebration of love, harmony, and peace. Another technique to send the audience out of the theatre celebrating the two characters is Leke Prabhu Ka Naam. However, they are all unique because I am unable to honour myself. Every song has to be heard as if it’s the first.

Although Dil Diya Gallan is a love ballad, Laapata from Ek Tha Tiger is, in my opinion, the song that best captures Tiger and Zoya’s romance. Two rogue spies, one from Pakistan and the other from India, fall in love with one another. Do you concur?

You’ve struck the right note. It was the first time a Hindi movie was shot in Cuba, where we shot that song. That nation has a low GDP, but because its citizens are peaceful and harmonious, there is a lot of culture and warmth. We witness the other side of the two superspies’ tough exterior as they become weak in love. Like India and Pakistan, there is always tension between Tiger and Zoya, whether or not it is resolved. However, if we look past the India vs. Pakistan debate and see the world through their eyes in Laapata, we discover there is so much more to the globe.

The Tiger brand has been a journey across continents. In what way did you carry out the choreography of the three celebratory songs?

To be really honest, I was asked to film Mashallah in Bangkok. However, I informed them that May is extremely hot there. So we used a set in Film City as a creative disguise. We stayed true to the Moroccan motif and the locations where Ek Tha Tiger was filmed.

We were able to film Swag Se Swagat on the stunning Greek island of Naxos. But because of the strong winds, we had weather difficulties. It was a difficult area. To get there, we had to hop on three different aircraft.

Because of Swag Se Swagat, we were obligated. Maneesh Sharma took over as director, and Pritam took over as music director, respectively. However, Katrina, Salman, and I haven’t changed since the beginning.

With Salman, you starred in your breakout movie, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). How has that formula evolved over time?

I enjoy working with Salman very much. He is hardly known by his name to most people. He likes that I don’t call him Bhai. Our history is lengthy. Actually, I worked on Karan Arjun as a director’s assistant. Salman, Shah Rukh, and even Adi were present on the set to tell Shah Rukh the story of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Thus, in some way, we were all part of the cosmos.

Salman is unaware that my name is Vaibhavi. He is familiar with me by my alias, Jinkoo. And not many people actually know me that way. Thus, we transcend cinema. He knows I won’t torment him, and I’ll do it quickly, so if I urge him to arrive on time, he will show up. He thinks it comes naturally to me, but I’ve worked very hard to make it appear that way. Salman, too, dances in this manner; his ease is what gives him the swagger.

There’s a brief sequence in the song where Katrina does a belly dance that reminded me of Ishq Shava from Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012). How has she changed over the years, from that movie to Dhoom 3 to Tiger 3?

It’s a belly dance, yes, but not in the Arabic sense of Mashallah. It’s a bit Oriental meets Afrobeat. Katrina’s waist movement is simply programmed. She is unable to break free from her muscle memory. She knows that she’s put a lot of effort into becoming as fit as she is.

However, Katrina’s initial feelings of nervousness and uncertainty were a result of her lack of familiarity with you. She was accustomed to working with a group of individuals. By the time of Jab Tak Hai Jaan, she was comfortable working with me. You see, I think I just like her. The only person I compete with is myself. For Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), I contributed just as much as I did for Jab Tak Hai Jaan, starring a renowned director. Katrina realised then that Vaibhavi is mad if I am. She will punish herself more severely if I continue to be harsh with her.

How do you strike a balance between Salman and Katrina’s dancing styles? Is it true that one never practises while the other is constantly in need of rehearsal time?

(Laughs) Yes, Katrina doesn’t need to be reminded to practise. She will practise until you beg her to stop. There are actors who practise nothing at all and others who practise even before they board a plane to go to the scene. However, that is our responsibility: to unite everyone. All we are as technicians are people managers. In addition to the actors, we oversee the DoP, costume designer, and background dancers.

Besharam Rang was there in Pathaan when you began the year. Given that it hails from the same YRF Spy Universe as Tiger 3, did you think the two songs would be compared?

You see, all I knew about Deepika’s character in Pathaan, Rubai, at first was that she was meant to lure the Pathaan character. Nothing about her past was known. It was the song she used as an introduction. I just went up to her like a femme fatale. Bo Derek from James Bond is her.

Deepika has also performed in some conventional roles, such as Padmaavat. She wanted to go all out when she arrived in Besharam Rang. Thus, I was not interested in filming it as a standard Hindi dance tune. I had in mind something languid, akin to a stylish fashion video. Something I did on the title tune of Dhoom 3 with Katrina

However, Zoya is not like Rubai at all. She is the mother of a 10-year-old and Tiger’s wife. So everything is based on character. Rubai is supposedly luring Pathaan, and Zoya is dancing with her husband (laughs). She’s merely having fun.

How different are Deepika and Katrina?

Katrina is originally an anxious person. She wants to make sure that she doesn’t let anyone down. Deepika presented herself as the total opposite. She works quietly. She practised in silence. She completes her schoolwork. Though Katrina says, “Dekho, dekho, main apna homework karke aayi hu,” she nevertheless completes her schoolwork. I have to approve everything she does, even her costumes. Deepika put a lot of effort into her outfit. That front bencher who is a teacher’s pet is named Katrina. She is quite involved. Deepika is a versatile mid-bencher who exudes ease.

You mentioned that you collaborated with Shah Rukh and Salman on Karan Arjun’s sets. But over the years, you’ve also collaborated with them on various projects. How different of dancers are the two?

Shah Rukh practises a lot and completes his schoolwork properly. A beloved pet of the teacher, he becomes disappointed if he doesn’t make the Top 2. But Salman is unconcerned. You just love him for who he is, teacher’s pet and all. Take it or leave it. He’ll demonstrate to you that, despite appearances, he is a hustler. You can’t just go through franchises like that sleepwalking. Together, they’re magical. They respect and adore one other so much. The actresses would probably struggle if Tiger vs. Pathan were to happen because their bromance would likely take centre stage.

In honour of Diwali, Tiger 3 is scheduled to open in theatres on November 12.

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