Yash Raj Film Studios: Creating a DHOOM

Published On: 2013-01-05

Author: Faud Omar

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Yash Raj Film Studios: Creating a DHOOM


Source: All Info About Bollywood

Date: November 29,2006

By: Faud Omar


Rain falls from the skies, embracing the air before it lands in dollops inthe muddy puddles forming on the ground. Like shards shattering still waters the small pools in Andheri’s potholes rhythmically dance with the arrival of each drop of rain.


Like some of the greatest films it has produced, even the atmosphere surrounding the entrance of Yash Raj Film Studios oozes romance, dance and change. Stepping out of the rickshaw I glance at the paradise that is the recently completed Graceland of film studios tucked neatly in a massive plot that expands from one street to the other. Approaching the guard at the entrance while seeking shelter from the rain, I am handed my pass for today which is more valuable than a lifetime ticket to Universal Studios, for this is where real filmmaking flourishes. Spotting the next pillar of shelter my brother and I ignore the guard’s advice to wait for the rain to calm and evoking the spirit of the film whose rehearsals we are about to arrive at, we swap excited glances and set our sights on our mark.


“Ready,” I say to him, my words being drowned in the heavy rain that is now pouring between us.


He nods his head and we make a dash for the lobby. With each stride we daren’t look back, only towards our destination. A short sprint later we are standing at the doors of the lobby looking at each other drenched and smiling at where we are. Entering, we are directed to the 4th floor and we casually glance at the sprawling metropolis that is a safe haven for anyone who has dared to dream in 70mm. Literally built on a foundation of excellence in cinema and carved out of a filmmaker’s untouched clay, Yash Raj Film Studios is a place where state-of-the-art equipment offers cinema unparalleled opportunities. There is very little noise in the clean and smooth interiors of the studios, but this is only because its atmosphere is erupting with creativity and genius. With classic films from one of the most successful production companies in the world serving as inspiration etched onto the walls, ceilings and murals throughout the studios, walking through the corridor of Yash Chopra’s very own Paisley Park allows you to bathe in breathtaking brilliance.


The lift doors open at the 4th floor and a familiar voice guides me towards the room that is hosting the genesis of tomorrow’s hippest dance moves. One of the many scattered employees of YRF Studios opens the door to the rehearsal dance studio and invites me into a new world. My right foot hits the floor and a surge of rhythm flows through my body as I spot a dancer-friend at the far end of the studio flash me a smile and give me a wave welcoming me to somewhere she knows will mean something different to everybody.


My eyes pan up, then all around me and I spot massive images that celebrate dance on the walls that encapsulate us. Sri Devi, the Indian screen goddess of yesteryears is captured in a classic moment from Chandini. My eyes dart to the image’s right at a more recent image from Bunty and Babli with Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan standing at each side of Aishwarya Rai who strikes a pose with eyes that invite you to let your soul be free and submit to the dance. The back wall is left bare, with seats for spectators and learners offering the best view of the dancers who pound the living daylights out of the floor which remains polished and undented, while observing themselves in the mirror before them. The wall to the left of the entrance door is immersed in an image from the timeless film that gave dance a new meaning. Shah Rukh Khan, India’s most popular actor, Madhuri Dixit,the queen bee of Bollywood that reigned in the late 80s and throughout the 90s bringing a new level of stardom to actresses, becoming one of the few female leads in Indian cinema to attract hordes to cinemas based on her name alone, and Karisma Kapoor, granddaughter of the legendary Raj Kapoor, are captured in a still from Yash Copra’s Dil To Paagal Hai, a film that celebrated the dance of love and life, epitomising the idea of soul mates that are made for each other. Seeing this iconic image that perfectly represents the spirit that the studio imbibes I am reminded of the song ‘Mohabbat Kar Le’ which had a fleeting appearance in the film and gave singer-choreographer Shiamak Davar international exposure. This is fittingas looking back at the front centre of the studio, are Shiamak’s dancers.


“Hey!” says a friendly voice and I look at a tall man in a vest and denims, with long, thick bushy hair escaping like a mane from beneath the cap he’s wearing. Locking eyes with his, I’m in his piercing trance which generates a 1000 watt smile from me and I move to hug the inspiration of a generation.


“I’m all sweaty,” he says, drawing breaths from this rare moment where he’s stopped rehearsing and is making his way towards me. The man is actor Hrithik Roshan, who has single-handedly changed the face of Indian cinema in the last 6 years, becoming an on-screen chameleon who has portrayed a lover, a hero, a militant, a doting son and brother, a mentally challenged man and superhero achieving within the span of a few years what other thespians fail to accomplish in a lifetime. The exciting part is, he’s still growing and shows no sign of slowing down.


“I’ve been so looking forward to seeing you,” he says as I blink to escape his gaze and realise I am at the rehearsals for one of the year’s most anticipated songs (Dhoom Again) from one of the year’s most anticipated movies, Dhoom 2.


After introducing him to my younger brother, who is seeing the film world for the first time, we catch up briefly before rehearsals resume and he invites us to sit back, enjoy some java goodness and watch as he learns some new moves. Watching Hrithik dance live is an electrifying experience, seeing him absorbing new moves, studying them and repeating them is like being let into the world’s biggest secret. The final product is polished, but seeing the effort put into crafting brilliance is another joy altogether. Add to this the dimension of where we are and you have a film fan’s dream come true.


Becoming one with the beat, carefully observing his mentor in the mirror and correcting himself through shooting mental commands to his reflection, Hrithik reminds me of the raindrops outside – natural, smooth and alive with rhythm. If the floor of any studio is to be really put to the test, it will be with Shiamak’s troupe and Hrithik Roshan. When Hrithik’s feet hit the ground, the earth explodes, when he leaps in the air, it’s as if he was always there and when he moves to the beat he becomes one with it. Thirty two minutes later, Hrithik is sitting beside me, tired and aching, but determined not to escape the retreat that feeds his imagination and nurtures his passion for cinema, for him every breath is rejuvenating and this man lives, breathes and adores the only two vices he has: cinema and family.


After dissecting the latest releases, we move onto talking about family and Hrithik is beaming. He is one of those people who cannot contain his joy when reflecting on family. His affection for his wife, the elegant and beautiful Suzanne is a testimony to true love as ever since I have got to know this young actor and seen him interact with his wife when she visits him on film sets, his demeanour completely changes. The topic changes to fatherhood and his son Hrehaan who was born earlier this year. Immediately Hrithik’s eyes light up and he explains how “you cannot comprehend the feeling”.


“Some people see marriage as something they can’t see themselves settling into but it depends on how much you love the other person, when you truly love someone it’s not settling into anything, it’s the most wonderful experience,” he says, and I paraphrase from memory as this was a casual conversation and not a recorded interview.


We share experiences we have both had and I ask his advice on preparing for fatherhood and he tells me it’s a new phase altogether and one can’t truly understand what they’re missing out on until they experience it.


We chat about the recently released Bollywood Legends dolls which include the first ever doll with his licensed likeness – not a character he’s played, but of Hrithik Roshan, the actor, superstar and person.


Hrithik is overwhelmed by the doll of himself and considers it an honour to be part of the first wave of the collection and finds it still difficult to believe. In a recent interview he was asked if his son would play with the doll to which he replied his son would never tire of playing with the real version, so he wouldn’t need a doll. This is the Hrithik I know – his father’s son, and now a father himself. One who is working hard day and night to provide for his family, be the best he can and make what he does worth it. He never wants to disappoint his fans, his family or his father and Hrehaan will surely have a lot to be proud of when he’s old enough to understand what his father does and all he has achieved. The sparkle in his eyes when even taking Hrehaan’s name sends his body language into overdrive as he gets excited and grins from ear to ear, looking into the air for short spans of seconds remembering him and missing him. Hrithik’s father is expert filmmaker Rakesh Roshan who has delivered an unprecedented record of successful films and revolutionised Indian cinema through bringing it on par with Hollywood carving his own niche making the father, like son, a Bollywood legend in his own right.


Before long, we are exiting the studios as it is his father’s birthday and Hrithik is keen to beat traffic to be with his family. He gives me a bear hug and climbs into his car, making me promise to return the next day. I head off through the exit barrier and look up at the now sun soaked sky which has left the ground parched and am reminded of the dance studio floor that Hrithik had scorched a short while back. As my brother and I head off, I look back at the studio complex that offers merchants of the world’s greatest dream factory the opportunity to realise their own dreams. Today has shown that putting one of Indian cinema’s most talented and brightest stars into this studio and allowing him to thrive, is sheer unadulterated magic. Hollywood be damned, filmmakers have a new mecca.