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People may call it dancing around trees, but the fact remains that it is these song and dance routines that have taken Bollywood films to the level where they are now; next only to Hollywood films.

It is mostly due to the dances and great music that Indian films became a craze in many diverse parts of the world. Raj Kapoor in Shri 420 and Mithun Chakraborty in Disco dancer sent the iron walled Russia into uncontrolled tizzy due to its songs, dances and emotionally touching story lines. Who can forget the sultry Helen dancing to “O Haseena zulfonwaali” in the unforgettable Teesri Manzil or Rishi Kapoor peforming “Om Shanti Om” to adoring fans in Karz? That was truly the birth of Bollywood dance as we know today.

In India the most important component for a film to achieve tremendous success has traditionally been music and dance. Take “Aashiqui” for example – a Bollywood superhit only because of its music.

That Bollywood is full of talented and versatile choreographers is a well accepted fact, as over the years we have seen them apt to catch the latest global trends (read the west) and incorporate them in their films, often with spectacular effects and great success. Popular songs showcased actors’ Cha-Cha-Cha talents like the popular “One Two Cha Cha Cha” sung by Usha Uthup and performed by Aruna Irani, or the Twist that was admirably performed in the memorable “Aao Twist Karein” in Bhooth Bangla by a young Mahmood.

Saroj Khan, famous for her Dhak Dhak choreography, has become a household name in the country, as has the next generation that includes the likes of Farah Khan, Shiamak Davar, Ganesh Acharya, Ganesh Hegde and Prabhu Deva.

In recent years, we have witnessed several new choreographers who’re often highly trained, and the dance routines in their movies have infused the songs with great verve and energy, so much so, that Hollywood movies at times have followed suit. Case in point being the hugely successful “Chaiyya Chaiyya” in Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se”, that was played in “Inside Man”.

The industry has over the years spawned legions of professional dancers, who come from all over the country to try their luck and earn some quick money. It’s not uncommon for foreigners to be seen on the sets of several films as part of the entourage, shooting for songs as choreographers play the hard taskmaster.

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