The sun was beating down on their backs, but actor Varun Dhawan and director Remo D’Souza were seemingly unaffected as they high-five each other looking mighty pleased. Dhawan, sporting a sleeveless white T-shirt, was about to be carted off in a golf cart from Bollywood Parks Dubai for a much-needed lunch break.
And why shouldn’t they be excited? They were up since 7.30am, filming a crucial dance sequence for their new Bollywood dance film, ‘Street Dancer 3D’, in Dubai.
“It is like a sauna in there. We don’t have any AC [air conditioning] in there and we are all dancing, so imagine!” D’Souza said in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!, pointing to his closed-door set shrouded in black curtains behind him.
“We need to start early as it gets too hot otherwise… Every day we start rolling at 9am. We have now just broken up for lunch,” he added.
It was their first week of filming in the UAE and things were going pretty smoothly as his actors — including Dhawan and Nora Fatehi — were portraits of enthusiasm.
D’Souza described his lead actor Dhawan as one of the most hard working talents with limitless energy.
My next film could be about The Kings win in the ‘World of Dance’… As dancers in India, we are on top of the world now. Imagine, they won the biggest reality dance show on earth. It proves they are good and I always knew it.
“Varun is just amazing and we gel well together because he is a great combination of great talent and looks… We discuss and rehearse before we are on set, and once we are one team. He has too much energy. Sometimes I ask him to control it and sometimes I just tell him to let go.”
That formula seems to have worked for this hit actor-director pair. Their 2015 dance film ‘ABCD 2’ was a blockbuster and they are all set to re-create that magic in ‘Street Dancer 3D’, partly shot in Dubai.
“Street style of dancing is a different world where the streets are the dancer’s stage and platform … Every dancer you see in this film are dancers in real life too. They are not actors who can dance. I was very particular about that,” said D’Souza. His team will be in Dubai until June 5. Two songs and a few scenes are set in the UAE.
Before becoming a consummate director, D’Souza was a top Hindi film choreographer.
“In countries like America, there’s a huge amount of street dance culture. You see these groups competing with each other. It’s all in the open and sparring happens organically.”
D’Souza hopes to transplant that idea into a Bollywood musical with ‘Street Dancer 3D’. To say that dancing is in his blood is an understatement. Even when he is filming at a breakneck speed in the UAE, D’Souza hasn’t forgotten his roots. He’s also on call to judge ‘Dansation Arabia 2019’, a regional contest open to aspiring dancers between the ages of 6 and 21 years on June 12.
I don’t regret doing it. It will always be special for me because it was given to me by Salman [Khan] sir.
“There’s a huge amount of talent here. To impress me, you just have to be yourself and dance like you don’t care,” said D’Souza.
The auditions for Dansation Arabia will be held every Friday and Saturday in Dubai (at Bollywood Parks) and in countries including Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
While D’Souza has his hands full in Dubai for the next few weeks, the director isn’t letting the pressure get to him.
“I always say that my life has been a big roller coaster ride. It goes up and down, round and round. But the place I am in right now is a happy one. I am so happy with whatever I am doing,” said D’Souza. “I hope it stays like this forever.”
Did you know?
In between breaks during his hectic filming in Bollywood Parks Dubai, D’Souza has found a great way to release stress.
“I have tried all the roller coasters in Bollywood Parks. The ride based on ‘Lagaan’ is amazing,” he said.
— Two categories of contests: Solo and group.
— The winners will get the chance to be a part of a musical dance opera.
— All participants should register on dansationarabia.com