Not many from Assam who left their homes, smitten by the glamour bug, have made it in Bollywood. Khargeshwar Nath, who is popularly known by his screen name Kamal Nath, is one man who has carved a niche for himself in the cut throat world of film choreography in tinsel town all on his own steam.
Having worked for more than 25 years in Mumbai, where he is at present based, Nath has independently choreographed dance sequences for over 100 Hindi and other regional films in all major Indian languages. His oeuvre includes, apart from Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya and, of course, Assamese potboilers.
Currently on a visit to his home State (Nath hails from Maniari village near Changsari in Kamrup district), for scouting talent for a reality dance show, the seasoned choreographer has made trips to Guwahati, Jorhat and Nagaon. Smaller places like Titabor and Kaziranga have also featured on his itinerary.
“We are conducting auditions for the reality show on a different format,” Nath said. Under this format, the contestants attend a workshop and get sufficient time for homework before putting in the final performance.
“I have found that most of the contestants are in some way or the other trained and have been initiated into proper dancing. They are showing vast improvement,” he added. No matter what your background is, there are no alternatives to hard work and adequate focus for success in the field of dancing, Nath stressed.
The reality show is slated to go on air on one of the Guwahati-based TV channels. Nath has been shuttling in and out of the State to keep up with his pressing engagements in Mumbai.
Trained in Kathak, Indian folk, jazz and tap, Nath, however, specialises in ‘Bollywood dance’, which is a medley of many genres. He has assisted ace choreographers like Surya Kumar, PL Raj, Hiralal (from the South), Saroj Khan and Madhav Kishan. He has had a long association with Vijay-Oscar.
Contrary to popular perception, Bollywood dance is very demanding on an artiste’s creativity. One has to work on new steps, costumes, locations, camera angles and a lot of other technical details for the final presentation to catch the fancy of viewers, Nath said, pointing out the joint efforts put in by different crews within a film unit.
Beginning with a Marathi film, Rangat Sangat, Kamal Nath got his major break as a solo choreographer in Solah Satrah, which released in 1988. His latest ventures include Chargesheet (a Dev Anand film), Khoya Khoya Chand and Miss Lovely.
“Chargesheet is my fourth film with Dev Anand. Earlier, I had worked for him in Censor, Love At Times Square and Mr Prime Minister,” Nath said.
Among his Assamese works are I Killed Him Sir, Annya Ek Jatra, Chakravyuh, Hiya Diya Niya and the recent Deuta Diya Bidai. His work now spans over 60 Hindi films and sizeable numbers in 11 other languages.
When asked about the current lean phase in the Assamese film industry, Nath pointed out that Bengali films are now being shot in foreign locales like Austria, Bangkok and Singapore. Marathi productions have rolled into Europe and from a fledgling state, Bhojpuri films are now commanding international releases.
“I hope a way can be found to pull Assamese cinema out of its present morass, if the local Government, the Assamese film fraternity and other stakeholders go into a huddle together and strive for an effective solution,” the choreographer maintained. “Something must be done to remove the post-production bottleneck, experienced by local filmmakers, by setting up adequate infrastructure in Assam, too, as in other major centres of the country.”
Apart from being a member of the Indian Film Dance Directors’ Association, Association of Motion Pictures and Television Programme Producers and Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Chitrapat Mahamandal, Nath is a guest teacher in many film academies and a regular in the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India.
He takes pride in the fact that he matched steps with Southern thespian Kamal Haasan in a hit Tamil movie Kadal Parishu. He also has a biography, Jeevan Rekha, written in Assamese about his struggle and subsequent success as a choreographer.
In addition to film dance
sequences, Nath has also choreographed ad films. A telly serial, Step by Step, also features on his CV. He has dictated dance steps for music videos like Mumbai Masti, Pehli Nazar and Chakori.
To cash in on the entertainment boom, Nath has launched a production house, BB Arts Entertainment, which plans to produce films, TV serials, music videos and other programmes. He, however, rues that he has not been able to get fully involved in the enterprise due to his tight schedule.
Nath has performed in over 1,000 national and international shows in 19 countries across America, Europe, Africa, Australia, Middle East and other parts of Asia with leading Bollywood stars and singers.
Before signing off, Nath made it a point to mention the inconveniences faced due to the frequent bandh calls in Assam. “There were at least three to four bandhs during my current stay here,” he said. So, many precious working hours are lost, resulting in an unwanted backlog, thanks to these bandhs, he added.