DD: The Shaadi aims to adapt one of Hollywood’s favorite movies into a desi-inspired short film. With dance being such an integral part of Bollywood culture, I could not think of anything more perfect. Premiering in New York City on September 23, DD: The Shaadi is an exciting short film that builds a bridge between American and Indian culture.
Here’s a sneak-peek:
Badass co-directors Shivani Badgi and Raashi Desai talk about their experience creating this production.
1. Dirty Dancing is one of Hollywood’s most popular classics, especially when it comes to dancing. What about the movie inspired you, and how do you aim to make that come alive for your audience?
We love how the original Dirty Dancing is first a film with a heartfelt storyline and lovable characters.The dancing in the movie has such a big element of “fun” in it. Even where they are doing more difficult partner work or lifts, you can still see how much they are enjoying the music and performing so effortlessly. For us, we wanted to create that same environment where even after we created this unique dance world for them that would combine Indian elements of dancing with Western, it would still feel extremely flawless and the actors could still enjoy performing them.
2. Having two female South Asian co-directors is pretty rare! What advice can you give our readers looking to explore their creative side and pursue nontraditional careers?
Do it, do it, do it! Both of us left everything and followed our passion and it is extremely rewarding. Be prepared for a life of a lot of hard work, working extremely late hours with no sleep, and sometimes being the only people who are working through the week 24/7. When you voluntarily drive an hour to and from NYC for rehearsal every night, getting home and sleeping at 2 or 3 am, all with a smile on your face, you know you are where you’re meant to be. This journey was tiring but it’s all I want to do. When you find something like that, something you just want to do over all else, there’s always a way to make it your life. Explore it, try it, work at it, because you never know where that can lead you!
3. Tell us a little more about your amazing cast and crew. Who are they and how did you cast them?
Our amazing cast went through a series of two auditions. We had them do acting, dancing, and chemistry tests, so we could find the people that would be perfect for the roles. We have Sharayu Mahale as Sana (Baby), Nikhil Saboo as Roy (Johnny), Pia Sawhney as Vani (Penny), Rohit Thakre as Ishaan (Billy), Chinmay Tavargeri Kumarji (Kellerman), Suchi Gulati as Raina (Lisa), Kalpana Mehta as Mrs. Soman (Mom), and Sudhir Kulkarni as Dr. Soman (Dad). We went through about a month of intense rehearsals everyday so everyone could really get into their characters. Our entire cast was so amazing during filming and really made our vision for the film come true.
These cast members really came from everywhere. Some were friends who had shown interest, some were family friends, and some were complete strangers who stole our hearts. We’re so pleased to say that we have truly become a close group of friends who look for excuses to hang out post the production of the movie. Having a team that craves to spend time together has made this process so fun and we feel that it translates to the screen!
4. What was your favorite part of filming this short film?
From the time we through of this idea sitting in the car in Princeton to now, the premiere, it has been such a whirlwind. Because we were always on some what of a time crunch, we were really immersed in the entire movie, in rehearsals, in all the planning, which was an amazing feeling. We kind of felt like we were in the Shaadi ourselves for a few months and that is something we are really going to miss.
We loved the moments during rehearsals where both of us directors would sit and try to iron out some kinks in the script and from the corner we could see the cast goofing off and having a great time. Seeing them enjoy their time together really warmed our hearts and it felt like we had created something really special.
5. We’re all obviously very excited about the film’s upcoming premiere. For those who can’t make it, where else can Dirty Dancing: The Shaadi be viewed?
After our New York Premiere this Saturday, we are planning to have a couple more premieres to really put our production company and film out there. We want everyone to be able to experience the magic of the Shaadi! After that, we will be releasing it to the public, so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all the updates!
Support the arts in the South Asian community by sponsoring DD: The Shaadi on their GoFundMe page.
For a behind the scenes look at what went down, watch here:
Ashni is a Social Media Manager, Digital Strategist and Lifestyle Blogger living in the Big Apple. Currently, she develops and executes digital strategy for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, which is a political and legal non-profit advocating for democracy and equal justice for all. She is also a professional Bollywood dancer who has performed at venues across the country such as Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Global Citizen Festival and more. When she’s not navigating the Twitterverse or dancing through life in classic Bollywood fashion, you can find her eating, laughing and shopping her way across New York City or better yet, traveling the world! You can follow her adventures on her blog, as well as Instagram and Twitter.
March 20, 2023March 21, 2023 4min readBy Nida Hasan
If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking.
I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.
— Smriti Mundhra
As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.
In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.
For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.
At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.
In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.