By Dhwani Mody
The Jhalak fever has set in as the seventh season of the popular dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa is to go on air on June 7. The contestants are all charged up to win the trophy and preparations are on in full swing.
“I have seen the previous seasons of the show and I adore Lauren from the previous season and also Meiyang Chang from season 5” said Kiku Sharda aka Palak of Comedy Nights With Kapil, one of the present contestants.
“I have followed the previous season of Jhalak …and Drashti (Dhami) and Lauren were my favorite contestants as they danced very gracefully” added Andy, VJ and the participant of Bigg Boss 7. Incidentally, from the previous seasons, it was Lauren Gottlieb and her partner Punit Pathak who have been the hot favorites of most of the contestants for taking the show to a different level. Having seen the previous seasons of the show, the new contestants are well aware about the competition, the standard of performances and the hardships as they go along. While the format of the show remains the same, this time, however, there is a new twist to it.
While the contestants are all gearing up to be a part of the iconic stage and as much as they are excited to be part of the show, they are aware of the tough competition of matching up to the level of dances of the previous season. “I am a non-dancer. I had danced on stage when I was a kid. But after that I have not really danced on the tunes of a choreographer,” remarked actor Purab Kohli, who is one of the current participants. As per the content of the show, most of the participants come from a non-dancing background, hence there is a lot of preparation going on that will help them maintain the standard of the show. Along with taking extra care of health and diet, the contestants are also being cautious about the rigorous dance moves that they have to learn along the way. Not being regular dancers, it is very difficult for celebrities to maintain the stamina while getting the moves right. Energising and maintaining the right body temperature and avoiding exertion after the rehearsal takes a lot of time and effort. However, young Akshat Singh, one of the finalists of India’s Got Talent who is now participating in Jhalak …, is of a completely different opinion “I like eating and dancing and I just want to enjoy the show without any tension,” he says while Sharda laughs, “In my case, I am a foodie. After the shooting of Comedy Nights With Kapil, I am so tired that I cannot practice without eating something,” laughs Sharda. Sophie Choudry, actor and singer, states, “I am not a trained dancer and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’s standards are very high. Hence I’m putting in a lot of effort to learn the moves and rehearse them to improve my dancing skills”.
Working on the rigorous dance moves have made participants realise that the preparations are not only challenging but also excruciating. Having a fit body is very important as dancing requires an optimum level of fitness which cannot be achieved instantly. “I am a dancer and the audience have a lot of expectations from me so that is the biggest challenge for me,” remarked Shakti Mohan, a trained dancer and a celebrity participant on the show. Many of the contestants are not physically fit due to some injuries or other reasons but overcoming obstacles is the biggest challenge faced. “I had injured my back earlier so now dancing is very difficult. It restricts my movements but I am trying my best to see that that my performance is not affected,” said Andy to which Choudry adds, “I have several issues like a slipped disc and a knee problem which are not ideal for a dance show but I am learning the different forms of dances without thinking about the injuries.” The celebrities are also very busy as they have to strike a balance with the hectic shooting schedule while preparing for Jhalak. On a stage like Jhalak …, the judges keep a hawk’s eye on every movement of the contestants. So there is always a challenge and the pressure of performance.
The format of the show requires the celebrities to dance with a choreographer who are leaving no stone unturned to make a good impression. The choreographers are motivating and trying to extract the best possible result out of the contestants to compete with others. “My partner has made me do something which I would not have ever imagined but he is patient and has faith in me that I will be able to raise the bar of the show,” says Mohan while Sharda adds, “I have problem maintaining my stamina and I cannot follow a diet either. My body gives up after some time but my partner Kruti knows her job and she is trying hard to get the best out of me.” The joint efforts of both, the contestants and their partners, can enhance the performances and thus help the contestants steal the heart of the fans. “My partner Deepak is fabulous in all kinds of dance forms. He is trying to teach me the philosophy of ‘no pain no gain’,” states Choudry.
The stretching exercises, though, very tiring will surely help the participants in the long run as they continue with their rehearsals and performances. Thus the hard work of the partners will pay off each week. Injuries are part of the process but having faith and collaborating with each other is very important to survive on the show.
Expectations on the rise
“It’s a big show to be on and the entire country follows you so a large amount of fan following comes with the show,” said Kohli. Being a part of a reality shows helps the celebrities create a larger fan base and increase their popularity. Participating in Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa surely adds to the fame and profile of the participants, making it a combination that can change their lives. “I am looking forward to a good experience as I love dancing. I am also a huge fan of Madhuri Dixit Nene and dancing before her is an honour in itself” added Mohan.
The show is a learning experience which changes the image of the celebrities and also gives most of them the touch of being versatile.
Twist in the tale
Although there is no major change in the format where celebrities dance with choreographers, the makers, however, have added a small twist to the show. The former Jhalak … contestant Lauren Gottlieb along with choreographer Salman Yusuff Khan will be opening the show by dancing on the themes prescribed by the judges for the contestants. The duo will act like a motivating factor which will give the contestants a push to perform better. “We are the new twist on the show but I am very pressurised because we have to raise the bar of our dance each time we come to perform,” says Gottlieb, who will also be adding the oomph factor to the show with her partner and together they will surely set the stage on fire.