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Interview with Raju Sundaram by Jeevi
Date: 27th September 2005

Raju Sundaram - son of dance master Sundaram and brother of choreographer turned director Prabhu Deva - has come a long way. He is currently in Hyderabad to shoot for a song in Modati Cinema film. met Raju Sundaram at Golkonda Fort to get an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts -

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Tell us how you got into films?
My father Sundaram is a popular choreographer. He used to take me as an assistant to shoots when I was doing my graduation. I was not interested in films and I used to torture my father with non-cooperation. But finally I was forced into the film industry. I started my career as an individual choreographer with a few Kannada films. My first Tamil film was Thiruda Thiruda (Donga Donga in Telugu). I choreographed three songs in that film. That film worked as a strong foundation to me and I never looked back since then.

Tell us about the item song you are currently doing for Modati Cinema?
Let us call this song as special song instead of item song. This songs comes a backdrop for titles. I am doing a sole special song after a gap of four years. This song was shot in Art Gallery yesterday and in Golkonda Fort today. Tomorrow, we are planning to shoot it in Charminar and Necklace Road. Visuals of the film show the spirit of Hyderabad and the lyrics represent the theme of the film. I have known the director Venkat Kuchipudi for the past five years. It is because of Venkat, I accepted to do this song.

How do you think songs should be choreographed?
I feel that expressions and feel is more important while choreographing the song than the body movements in terms of steps. The songs choreographed with right expressions would look fresh even if you watch the song after 5 years. But the songs composed with just steps would be ignored by the public in no time.

How do you compose dances for any song?
I come to the sets and listen to the music. As per the music I compose the steps instantaneously. I get the best work out of me through that way.

Don't you do any rehearsals?
I don't prefer to do rehearsals. I believe that dance should come out spontaneously as per the music. But a few directors make it a point that I rehearse for their songs.

Are there any rehearsed songs that got you tremendous applause?
Yes. Harerama (Okkadu) and Dum Dumare (Arjun).

Your brother Prabhudeva made it big both in terms of choreography and direction. How do you feel about it?
Prabhu Deva is an excellent dancer and excellent director. He has strong technique, does hard work and is brilliant. I am really proud of him.

Being a brother, don't you want to compete with him?
No. I know that Prabhu Deva is the best. I could never be equal to him. Hence, I would strive achieve next level.

You have three choreographers in your house (Sundaram, Prabhu Deva and Raju Sundaram). How do you differentiate with each other?
Let me give you the example of Bombay film. Father choreographed Kannanule song. Prabhudeva choreographed Hamma song and I choreographer Kuchikuchi Kunamma song. You can observe that each one of us have our own style and signature. Hence we never need to compete with each other.

Do you have any suggestions for the upcoming choreographers?
I would suggest them to use technology effectively in order to enhance the choreography. Depending on the music, using the movements of camera, lenses, trolleys, cranes, costumes, locations and sets etc, a choreographer can add a lot.

What is the importance of songs in Indian films?
Songs are meant to entertain the crowds. Since most of the songs are duets, the choreographer has the liberty to add up spice and entertainment value with one's creativity. But in situational songs, we must make sure that choreographer adds up to the emotion in the situation. Music is so important in Indian scenario that separate music-oriented 24/7 music channels have come in regional languages.

Which of songs are better in terms of choreography now? Telugu or Tamil?
I feel choreography for Telugu songs are better than Tamil songs in the present scenario. There is lot of dance oriented music (folk tunes) in Tamil.

Who is the best dancer among the heroes and heroines you worked so far?
Each and every hero and heroines has got one's own strengths. As per their strengths, we compose the choreography. However, I would like to make a statement about certain heroines.

What is that statement?
Most of the heroines start throwing tantrums by giving statements that they don't want to run around trees after they become big heroines. I would like to tell them all that they have become popular because of their songs in films. So they should never demean dance-oriented-songs in films. Songs play vital role in careers of heroines. I respect veteran heroines like Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi who respected dances even when they become big.

What do you do in your free time?
I watch films.

Who are your favorite choreographers?
Obviously, father (Sundaram) and brother (Prabhu Deva). Saroj Khan is also my favorite.

What do you think is the best work done by you so far?
AKS (Amitab Bachan), Aby Baby (Amitab's pop album) and all the songs composed for Shankar's film.

How is the atmosphere at home?
Whenever, we meet we discuss family matters. We never discuss about our work at home.

What are the Telugu films you are choreographing for now?
I did a song for Pawan Kalyan's Bangaram. I did a couple of songs for Vennela. I am asked to do a song in Chiranjeevi's Jai Chiranjeeva.

What is your future ambition?
To become a film director!

Any message to the visitors of
Do only the things you like and don't do anything that you don't like!

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