Why 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' choreographer Shabina Khan is on top of the world

Nov 15, 2015, 08:25 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

In conversation with Shabina Khan, choreographer of the title track of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, every Dubsmasher’s delight 

It’s truly been a case of ‘ek pal mein life badal gayi,” says Shabina Khan, who choreographed the recently-gone-viral song, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP), the title track of the Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor-starrer. The track which released on October 14, has been Dubsmashed all over social media by the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Sridevi and Malaika Arora Khan and taxi drivers, patients in hospitals and school kids. The first to release her Dubsmash was Kapoor, who posted a video two weeks ago, and the rest, as they say, is social media history.

Choreographer Shabina Khan directing Sonam Kapoor on the sets of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

“Everyone seems to be wanting to jump on the bandwagon. Corporates, kids and even old people. I stopped counting after the first 15,000. Now, I just say countless,” says Khan, who has been working in the film industry for
21 years.

“I never though this would happen. It’s been life-changing.” The 34-year-old started her journey young at the age of 13. Though she belonged to a strict Muslim family, where even watching TV wasn’t allowed, she managed to get inspiration from Madhuri Dixit’s moves which she got a peek of on Doordarshan’s Chaya Geet. Her parents, who supported her, were told by their conservative society that “nobody would get married to her if she went down this path”. “But I started going for classes at a cultural institution where I used to teach Urdu. It was destined to be.” She was spotted by choreographer Ganesh Hegde, who asked her to assist him on the sets of Khamoshi, her first movie with Salman. “He is a very important person for me. He has his own style, and he makes every step you give him look unique. He never makes you feel uncomfortable. I even like it when he walks,” she laughs over the phone, returning from a concert in Dharavi for which she had choreographed a couple of slum children dancing to the same song at a Diwali event Salman Khan had organised.

Sridevi and Shilpa Shetty do the Dubsmash (left) as do a couple of tiny tots. source/ instagram

Since then, she has worked with choreographers such as Ganesh Acharaya and done movies such as Jai Ho and, more recently, Khamoshiyan. But the last one-and-a-half years have been dedicated to PRDP. She was originally only supposed to choreograph two songs, but after Sooraj Barjatya saw her work, she ended up working on all eight. “His brief for the song was precise - make the words come to life,” she says. Khan decided to do just that. “So it’s a take on the aarti Ram Ratan Dhan Payo. When Sonam’s character sees what Salman’s character (who is a version of Ram) is doing for her family, she feels like she has a gem for a lover. That’s why she thanks God with her hands folded.”

The other main requirement of the song was that everyone could copy the steps, and dance along. “When Soorajji saw the song for the first time in the rehearsal hall, he clapped and said ‘you got the meaning’. And when Salman saw it, he said ‘everyone is going to dance on this’, and that’s what happened.” She has since been inundated with calls from the industry by people who want to work with her. “David Dhawan called and congratulated me and fellow choreographers like Bosco-Caesar and Longinus. They are all so happy for me!” she says. But, she’s also awaiting the verdict on the rest of the songs in the film. “This movie is my life, and it has made my life,” she signs off.

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