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Farah Khan - Dance Director


(*picture 1. Farah Khan talks about her work on Rakesh Roshan's "Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai" (2000) The film won Best Feature film awards from Filmfare and Screen plus Farah Khan won Best Choreography awards for the film from Filmfare and Screen.)

One should really say that Farah Khan is a dance director. She has been credited with bringing a whole new sensibility to the picturization of the Bollywood dance number. Beginning in her early career Farah brought the concept of integrated camera movement and angles, film editing, set design, costume, and story motifs into the her dance choreography. This produced dance numbers that were more complex, layered, and exciting to watch and also helped bring a smoother more flowing continuity between the film plot and dance numbers.

(*picture 2. On the set of "KNPK", Farah Khan takes control of the dance number setting up camera angles and marking the actors and dancers. She acts as the 'dance director' guiding every aspect of the song picturization.)

Farah Khan's idea is for the dance director/choreographer to be involved in all aspects of the song picturization. Farah was the first person in modern day Bollywood to put this concept of 'dance direction/choreography' into practice. She states her influences as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video and the dance picturizations of 60s Bollywood director Vijay Anand.

The "Thriller" video must have been a true revelation for Farah Khan. In many ways "Thriller"s video is a 'Bollywood' style dance number. It is a small film with a dance picturization integrated into the story line. But the dance number of "Thriller" was more than just choreography and music. It incorporates complex camera movements, set changes, costume design, and editing with the choreography and music. It brought all these diverse elements together into a 'high tech' complete whole, that created a new 'style' and 'look' to the traditional music video.

(*picture 3. Hrithik, Rakesh Roshan, and Farah Khan are pictured here working closely together on the song "Pyaar Ki Kasti" for KNPK. These images are taken from the 'making of' special feature on the "KNPK" DVD.)

The song picturizations of Vijay Anand (For example: "Jewel Thief", "Johny Mere Naam") were directed as story/songs. Often key elements of plot and character development took place within his dance/song numbers. Vyjay was a master of this. Vijay Anand also created elaborate sets and integrated complex camera, editing, and mass dancer choreography into his picturizations.

(*picture 4. Filming the title song "Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai" on location in Singapore. Farah Khan is center frame [inside the red circle] directing the action. Hrithik and Amisha Patel perform Farah's famous dance move she created for the film, the dance move is a linking motif in the films plot. Rakesh Roshan [in Panama hat] stands behind Farah overseeing the action.)

Farah Khan took these influences and saw how dance choreography and film direction can be integrated and make song picturizations more than just 'dancing around trees'. When she says that "Thriller" and Vijay Anand are her big influences she means the concept of dance 'direction', of picturing songs that incorporate camera, editing, sets, story development, and costume along with choreography.

(*picture 5. Farah Khan and Rakesh Roshan [in Panama hat] check out a camera shot for the title song of "KNPH". Farah has a whistle in her mouth that she blows to call 'action' to start and stop the actors. It is evident from these images what a large role Farah Khan plays as Dance Director on the films she works on.)

Many dance directors have followed suit behind Farah Khan in her concept of song picturization for Bollywood films. She rightly deserves credit for her innovative ideas and raising the level of creativity in the Bollywood film industry.