Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj was supposed to direct a classical dance number featuring Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’, as he did for his earlier movie ‘Devdas’, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit. The famous song ‘Dola Re’ was choreographed by the maestro.
But in an interview to Mumbai Mirror, Pandit Birju Maharaj revealed, “Sanjay was having second thoughts about this jugalbandi and I will choreograph Deepika in a solo act which is a more contemporary adaptation of one of my own performances set on an Avadhi-Brijwasi thumri, Balma re chunaria maiko lal.”
“There’s a lot of lal rang in the song with Deepika dressed in fiery red, her head demurely covered by a ghoonghat but her eyes flashing fire,” he added.
Pandit Birju Maharaj is a perfectionist and admits that he’s wary of working with untrained dancers but Bhansali made him watch Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ which had Deepika performing a Kathak sequence.
“I figured she would be able to dance gracefully to the thumri Sanjay had picked out. And I was right. Deepika, who has received formal training in Bharatnatyam, quickly mastered the footwork when she came for riyaaz to Delhi,” said Panditji.
A bit fazed by the too-tall Deepika, Panditji further said, “We’ll be shooting for 12 nights at a stretch. And till then I’ve given Deepika lots of homework that’ll keep her busy.”