The grandeur of Indian weddings today is phenomenal. The clothes, decor, entertainment, and venue combined with the unrestrained spirit of the bride and groom, their family and friends, have made Indian sangeet ceremonies bigger, livelier, larger than life and more fun than ever before. Today, any Indian wedding celebration has minimum four to six functions, be it a haldi, mehandi, wedding, reception and not to be missed sangeet. You will agree with me when I will say that a sangeet ceremony is not complete without well-choreographed, glamorous dance sequences performed by the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nana nani (parents from mother’s side) dada dadi (parents from father’s side) and of course, the star of the evening the bride and the groom.
A name that consistently appears in an elite list of celebrated choreographers is Rajendra Singh lovingly called as Rajendra Masterji. Having spent many years in the field, Masterji is well-versed in Bollywood dance as well as classical and western styles. He is regularly called upon by the crème de la crème of Indian High Society, around the world, who like nothing better than to ‘dance to his tunes’. His expertise in the field of dance combined with his humour and extroverted personality, make the preparations leading up to the wedding into a fun and unforgettable experience, with a unique personalised ‘Masterji’ touch.
I won’t be surprised if you will fall off your chair when I will enlist the never ending list of names who’s weddings Masterji has choreographed and mind you these names are not just from bollywood but the biggest in the corporate world too. So let me begin with the celebrations he has been a part of – Karisma Kapoor-Sanjay Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor-Saif Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Twinkle Khanna-Akshay Kumar are just a few, his client list boasts of the likes of Lakshmi and Usha Mittal, Ravi Sanghi, Rekha Mahtani, Geeta Piramal, Harsh and Mala Goenka, Tanya Godrej Dubash and Arvind Dubash, Riddhima Kapoor Sahni and Bharat Sahni and Pernia Qureshi and the list goes on and on.
This uncrowned king of Indian wedding choreography recently made his big screen debut. Yes, he played himself in the recently released ‘Veere Di Wedding’ and also trained the main star cast of the film, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsani, his cameo appearance in the film playing Masterji himself has got this super talented man more recognition than before.
I remember meeting Masterji at Abhishek-Aishwarya’s wedding where my dancers had danced too. At the most talked about wedding of that time when this man walked in, he was hounded by stars, from Amitabh Bachchan to Anil Ambani all ran behind, pulling him to the corner and quickly revising and rehearsing their steps. From Tina Ambani to Sara Ali Khan all have shaken their hips and jiggied to his tunes, but what has Masterji enjoyed the most and what more is he waiting for is something I am sure we all wish to know. So I called up my darling Masterji and he spoke his heart out.
Tell me about your own dance training and how did you learn so many styles?
I learnt Kathak from my guru late Pandit Madan Shyam ji. I love Kathak but my love for Bollywood dance never stopped, I mastered film numbers by myself and now it’s been twenty years that I am in this business of wedding choreographies.
Which is the most memorable wedding celebration for you?
Oh! it is difficult to pick up one and it will be unfair if I do that, each wedding has its own beauty and emotions and I love the whole feeling of family and friends bonding and celebrating through dance.
But honestly, my work got its due recognition at Suparna Motwane’s sangeet (Karisma Kapoor’s former sister-in-law), all the bigwigs of Bollywood had come for the celebration and they loved my work a lot and praised it tremendously. Also wedding celebration of Vanisha Mittal (Laxmi Mittal’s daughter) in London was something I will remember forever as it was truly an extravagant affair. I believe it was almost Rs 240-crore, something totally unheard of for many.
Who has been your favourite student during these family reunion celebrations?
Oh my, you are asking me the toughest question. I am sorry but I can’t choose one at all. There are so many who I have loved and till today their memories are fresh in my heart. Karisma Kapoor burning the floor on ‘Bole Chudiya’ at her then sister in law’s wedding, Kirron Kher dancing to ‘Beedi’ and Amitabh Bachchan rocking the floor to ‘Kajra Re’ while Jaya ji making moves like Aishwarya at Abhishek–Aishwarya ’s sangeet. Also Late Sridevi grooving to ‘Tumse Milke Dil Ka Hai Kya Haal’ at Riddhima Kapoor Sahani’s sangeet, I can’t forget them at all.
But Neetu ji is someone I love the most, she and Karan Johar stole Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s sangeet when the duo danced and recreated the Sharmila Tagore-Rajesh Khanna classic ‘Ab chahe maa roothe ya baba’ they were phenomenal.
You have made everyone dance, I am sure all your wishes are over, right?
No, no not everyone (laughs). Yes, it is true that I have made most celebrities from Bollywood dance, but the Diva of Bollywood Rekha is one person I am yet to teach and I wish that soon I might get a chance to do that. Her slight yet very sharp lachaks (move) and bhav (expressions) are enough for a song to become a hit at any event. Today’s girls can shake from top to bottom and everything that they have (laughs) but they can never match up to her class and style.
From a romantic number to a Dhin chak item song, from typical Bollywood to Bhangra to a Cabaret or Classical Rajendra ji infuses loads of latkas and jhatkas (hip moves) with graceful and enjoyable dose of adas (expressions). A true celebrity-choreographer who indeed is a name to reckon within the world of dance is happiest when he hears Seetis (whistles) while his students dance and his favourite dialogue to all his students is ‘Zor se Hilao’ (shake your hips more). From Mumbai to Delhi to London to Singapore to the United States of America Masterji has travelled far and wide to help people create life long memories through their sangeet ceremonies, he is a Masterji in true sense who brings family together forever.
By Rajendra Singh Masterji
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AFTERNOON VOICE and AFTERNOON VOICE does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)