Longinus Fernandes, the guy who made Shveta Salve almost win on Jhalak Dikhla Ja, chats with Melissa D'costa about learning patience from Hollywood director Danny Boyle, at Mumbai's local train terminus
Dancer-turned choreographer Longinus Fernandes aka Longi, has made Hindi film stars dance over the last three decades. And after working with one of India's most sought after directors Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Longi landed an assignment with Danny Boyle, director of Leonardo DiCaprio starrer, The Beach. With Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire releasing in January, he's excited over how his moves will be received.
Longinus (in purple) with director Danny Boyle at CST station
How did you land Slumdog Millionaire?
Amar Butala, who I had worked with on Kudiyo Ka Zamaana, recommended me to Danny. I went prepared to answer a volley of questions about my previous work. But all Danny asked me was whether I was good at managing people. He liked what I'd done with Adnan Sami's Lift Kara De video, and I was on.
What's Slumdog Millionaire about?
It's the story of an impoverished teenager who participates in the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, since he needs to prove his love for a girl, who is a fan of the show. He plays the game only for love, but ends up winning, and drawing the attention of the host and law enforcement agencies who suspect foul play.
We hear you shot at a train station.
Yes, the film is a drama, so, there are only two songs one where he celebrates his victory, and another to confess his love. The latter was a challenge as we shot at CST station. To avoid crowds, we shot there between midnight and 5 am. It was maddening, but its made me a calmer person. I learnt the art of patience, and how to deal with various temperaments by observing Danny.
How did you get your first break, and what was the turning point in your life?
Choreographer Farah Khan and I were in college together. When she got to know that Ramsay Brothers were looking for dancers for their film, she suggested I give it a shot. I took up the assignment to earn some extra pocket money. However, I soon realised that I wanted to become a professional choreographer and I got my first break with Dil Ka Doctor. While I had done a couple of videos including Baba Sehgal's Balle Balle Ho Gai I got recognition only with Sony Entertainment's reality dance show Jhalak Dikhla Ja, which made me a household name. The rest as they say is history.