Terence Lewis: I love TV shows because there are no retakes

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Mumbai, March 17 -- It has been five years since Terence Lewis stopped choreographing for films. However, his contribution to the industry remains unchallenged with his impressive body of work, which includes films such as Lagaan (2001) and Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013). 


Terence became a household name with his stint as a reality show judge, which is also responsible for launching the careers of dancers such as Shakti Mohan and Pradeep Gurung. But it has not been an easy journey for Terence, who coming from humble roots, had to persevere for turning his passion into his profession. Excerpts from the interview:


How did you start your journey in dance and choreography?


In spite of being scholastically and academically inclined, life seemed to constantly draw me towards the arts. I never wanted to become a dancer, as a kid though I enjoyed it. But since school times, I began to enjoy the attention. I realised I loved taking part, competing and being on stage. The power to make people suspend their worlds, and for a few moments come into a surreal world created by my craft, really gave me a kick. Little did I know then that the affection, appreciation and applause would soon get me highly addicted. At 13, I was spotted by my first teacher Pervez Shetty in a dance competition who berated me by saying that the only reason I was winning was because I was the best among the worst. She took me under her wings and offered to train me for three months in jazz ballet.


What challenges did you have to face?


Family pressure came early on when I chose to dance. They wanted me to have a nine to five job as we were a huge family of eight and poor. Yet I decided to stand my ground. I started earning pocket money by giving tuitions for school subjects as well as dance.


What do you make of the current dance scene in India? What changes would you like to see?


Dance scenario in India has changed drastically. When I started my career, dance was something which was looked down upon. However, there has been a revolution that has definitely expanded the avenues in many ways. It's solely not a platform to showcase talent but also one gets a lot of recognition as well as opportunities. I would also like to highlight that if reality shows have helped transforming the outlook of dance, the advent of internet has aided the progression of the artistic pursuance of young dancers.


According to you, which was the era that redefined dance in Bollywood?


I think the golden era in Bollywood was when Vyjayanthimala was active in the scene and brought in her own choreographers. Then we had exports such as Hema Malini, [the late] Sridevi, Jayaprada, Rekha, all from the south in fact, who brought their own choreographers who were classically trained. Next big era happened in 2000 when Prabhudheva choreographed Madhuri Dixit in 'Kay sera sera' (Pukar; 2000) and Hrithik Roshan in 'Main aisa kyun hoon' (Lakshya; 2004).


When it comes to dance in Bollywood, is it more inspired from the west or is it rooted in Indian classical? Is classical dance under threat from Western influences?


Yes, I agree that the influence of classical dance form has gone down because our films are now no longer mythological. If the film is current and topical, then clearly the music as well as the dance styles will have foreign influences. There has been a shift from classical to more urban and contemporary style. That's simply because cinema has changed.


Who has been the game changer as far as Bollywood dancing is concerned.


There isn't anyone in particular, everyone has their own style and aura. While Salman with his limited ability in dance has made dancing easy to emulate, Hrithik brings in a certain quality of grace strength and clarity. Talking about Madhuri she has made the adage come alive "divinity is when the dance and the dancer become one". As far as new age dancers are concerned, I like the work of Shahid Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor and even Ranveer Singh for that matter.


How do dance reality TV shows help the participants?


In India, dance reality shows have majorly helped in transforming the old notion. Giving youngsters a lucrative opening into the field of stage shows, wedding, choreography, etc. Most importantly, dance is a big part of Bollywood movies, so one can join the fraternity as a dancer or choreographer too.


Are there any Bollywood projects that you are working on?


No, I have stopped choreographing for Bollywood films since the past five years because I don't believe in retakes. There are many out there who are already doing a fabulous job. Moreover, I like to create dance moves where there is camera and there are no cuts. I want some challenging songs where you see the real dance. Today, it's become an excuse for people who are either not talented or don't have time to rehearse. That's why I love TV shows because there are no retakes.