Monday night I had a rare advance press screening for a major Bollywood release, Anurag Basu's Kites, starring Hindi film superstar Hrithik Roshan in his first starring release since 2008's spectacular historical epic Jodhaa Akbar. I am embargoed from writing in any depth on the film until the global release this Friday, May 21, but Roshan's characteristically terrific dance number in the film got me remembering (and YouTube-ing) some of the great dance performances he's given over his career, which turns a decade old this year.
Directed by his father Rakesh Roshan, his 2000 debut Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (Won't You Say... You Love Me), is, on the whole, pretty damn terrible, but what most definitely isn't is the younger Roshan's charisma and dancing ability. The "Ek Pal Ka Jeena" ("There's Only a Moment in Life") number (part of a very solid song score with which this very bad movie was blessed) became an instant classic and singlehandedly turned him into a major movie star overnight, and his effortless grace and presence make it easy to see why.
The first film I actually saw Roshan in was Karan Johar's all-star 2001 family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (Sometimes Happiness Sometimes Sorrow...), which features what is probably my favorite Bollywood song/number of all time, "You Are My Soniya." Yes, it's the epitome of bubblegum pop in any language, but damn it if I don't have it frequently pop into my head at random moments in the years since I first heard the song--which has just about as much to do with Roshan's dancing as it does the song's catchy melody.
K3G - You Are My Soniya by vdensdon
To this day, the most unique and challenging number I've seen Roshan perform is the limb-twisting "Main Aisa Kyun Hoon?" ("Why Am I Like This?") number in Farhan Akhtar's 2004 war drama Lakshya (Aim). Choreographed by the great Prabhu Deva, it's a dramatic departure from the dance club or traditional dress numbers actors are most often called on to do in Bollywood.
Main Aisa Kyun Hoon - Lakshya (2004) - FT ... by SULEMAN1987
The last time Roshan danced onscreen in a major showcase prior to Kites (not counting his cameo role in last year's Luck by Chance nor an end credits snippet in 2008's Krazzy 4; Jodhaa Akbar exercised just about all of his skills except dancing) was in 2006's actioner Dhoom:2 (Blast:2), which marked his long-awaited first on-screen pairing with arguably the best female dancer currently active in Bollywood, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan--and they did not disappoint.
More on Kites this Friday.