Art of War

Art of War

Pune-based Shifu Kanishka Sharma talks about teaching Madhuri Dixit-Nene the techniques of martial arts for her upcoming film Gulab Gang

Earlier this year,while shooting an action sequence for Gulab Gang,Madhuri Dixit-Nene was perplexed when the director told her what she had to do. The fight sequence required her to place her palm on the ground to help her position her body at a slant of 45 degrees and do a sort of “maut ka kua”,a run over the chest of her attackers who formed a circle around her. She called Pune-based Shifu Kanishka Sharma and confessed her diffidence. With a little encouragement and a four-month-long training in martial arts,she did the stunt effortlessly. “At 46,Madhuri’s energy and enthusiasm is no less than that of a teenager. Madhuri is a dancer and dance involves rhythm,footwork and having oneness with what you are doing — the same things required for martial arts as well. She has a photographic memory and picked up techniques I taught her instantly,” says Sharma,a Shaolin monk,who almost always wears his robe over jeans and a comfortable T-shirt.

Dixit-Nene was trained in a specialised form of martial arts called Kali, which is used by special forces in close quarter combat to overpower and kill a person in three seconds. “We use a sickle-like weapon in Kali. But instead of a handle to grip your fingers and palm with,it has a ring which must be worn on your thumb. In close quarter combat,the technique is used to tear up the enemy’s arteries and tendons in a matter of seconds; no guns and machinery are involved,” describes Sharma.

The fact that Dixit-Nene has graduated to a green belt in taekwondo,he says,was an added advantage. “ I was surprised when the director told me that she could kick at a height over my head. So I held my hand above my head,just to see if she really can,and she kicked with ease. Later I learnt that when she was in the US,the whole family had enrolled for taekwondo classes,” says Sharma,who has also trained Anil Kapoor for the upcoming Hindi adaptation of the American television series,24.

The interest for martial arts was instilled in Sharma by his driver,a Jackie Chan fan. Sharma would hang out with him when his parents were away. “While all the other children my age were growing up listening to grandma’s tales ,my driver used to narrate Jackie Chan movies. As I grew up,I wanted to pursue it further. I then went to Shaolin Temple in China,” says Sharma

To propagate the martial art amongst masses,Sharma will be conducting Zen meditation workshops at the two-day Yoga,Music and Life Spirit Festival,to be held in Goa on December 21 and 22.