Kajal Aggarwal is a popular name in Indian film industry. Apart from acting in Hindi movies, she has also established herself as one of the leading heroines in Tamil and Telugu film industries. Aggarwal, who has been nominated for four Filmfare Awards (South) over the years, has been part of many successful films across various film producing industries and languages. But not many people know that before rising to fame, she worked as a background dancer. Kajal took a plunge in showbiz with Samir Karnik directed 2004 Bollywood flick ‘Kyun! Ho Gaya Na…’ The actress is seen in the popular song “Pyar Mein Sau Uljhanne Hai”, featuring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Vivek Oberoi. At that time, no one had thought that the girl dancing behind stars like Aishwarya and Vivek would go on to become a force to reckon with in Indian cinema.
After her brief appearance in Samir Karnik’s not so successful film, Kajal had to wait for 3 years before bagging her first film as a lead. She made her debut with Telugu film ‘Lakshmi Kalyanam’ in 2007. Though the movie was not a great success commercially, people noticed and applauded her performance in it. In the same year, she featured in Krishna Vamsi’s ‘Chandamama’ which emerged as a box office hit and helped her bag more film offers from leading Tamil and Telugu film producers. Kajal’s breakout film was distinguished filmmaker SS Rajamouli’s fantasy drama ‘Magadheera’. The Telugu film, which starred Ram Charan as the leading man, hit screens in 2009 and turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. She subsequently starred in a number of financially and critically successful movies such as ‘Darling’ (2010), ‘Mr. Perfect’ (2011), ‘Businessman’ (2012), ‘Naayak’ (2013), ‘Baadshah’ (2013), ‘Govindudu Andarivadele’ (2014), ‘Temper’ (2015) and ‘Khaidi No. 150’ (2017).
Besides cementing her position in Telugu cinema, the actress strengthened her foothold in Tamil films as well by starring in a number of successful movies like ‘Naan Mahaan Alla’ (2010), ‘Maattrraan’ (2012), ‘Thuppakki’ (2012), ‘Jilla’ (2014) and ‘Mersal’ (2017). Her successful Bollywood projects include ‘Singham’ (2011), and ‘Special 26’ (2013). Currently, Kajal is busy with the shooting of her upcoming Tamil film ‘Paris Paris’, which is a remake of Kangana Ranaut’s Bollywood blockbuster film ‘Queen’ (2014).
TRIVIA: Kajal graduated from K.C. College, Mumbai with a degree in Mass Media.
Before dazzling the world of modelling and beauty pageants, the gorgeous Dia Mirza tried her hands at many things, including working as a background dancer in films. Yes, Dia started her career in showbiz as a background dancer and was first seen in a song from the Tamil film ‘En Swasa Kaatre’ (1999). The song was received so well by listeners that it was remade in Hindi as Jumbalika. She subsequently appeared in Femina Miss India 2000 and was declared the second runner-up at the glitzy event. She was then sent to Miss Asia Pacific 2000 where she clinched the title.
The very next year, Dia decided to venture into films and made her acting debut with Gautham Menon’s ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’ (2001) which also starred R. Madhavan and Saif Ali Khan in the lead roles. The film was not a successful affair at the box office, but it launched Dia’s career in Bollywood and helped her get more work in the industry. After ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’, she appeared in a number of films such as ‘Deewaanapan’ (2001), ‘Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge’ (2002), ‘Dum’ (2003), ‘Naam Gum Jaayega’ (2004), ‘Koi Mere Dil Mein Hai’ (2005) and ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.’ (2006). However, barring ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.’ none of her films performed well at the box office. After having a not so successful career as an actress, Dia decided to set up her own production house, Born Free Entertainment, with her husband Sahil Sangha and turned producer. Her next film as an actress is Rajkumar Hirani’s upcoming Sanjay Dutt biopic.
TRIVIA: Dia Mirza is of mixed parentage, born to a German father and a Bengali mother.
Saroj Khan is considered a legend in the field of film choreography in Indian cinema. There have been many choreographers since the inception of the film industry in India, but the kind of name and fame Khan has achieved over the years with her sheer hard work and dedication, seem impossible for others to attain. But before she became a force to reckon with in Hindi films, Saroj had to struggle for many years as a background dancer. She began her career as a child artist at the tender age of three with the film ‘Nazarana’. In the late 1950s, she started as a background dancer and appeared in many films of the black and while era. It was this time when she decided to train herself properly in various dance forms and so began working under popular choreographer B. Sohanlal. After working as an assistant choreographer to Sohanlal for many years, Saroj decided to branch out as an independent choreographer and did her first film Geeta Mera Naam in 1974.
Things did not turn out to be as she had planned. It was a tough time for Saroj Khan because, after Geeta Mera Naam, she did not get the kind of work which could help her establish herself in the competitive industry. However, her time changed when she got an opportunity to work with Sridevi in a number of successful films like ‘Naagin’ (1986), ‘Mr India’ (1987), and ‘Chandni’ (1989), to name just a few. Her association with another popular actress Madhuri Dixit catapulted her to superstardom. Soon, Saroj Khan became the most-sought-after choreographer in Hindi cinema. Every leading heroine of that period wanted to work with her, but her best work came with Madhuri. She choreographed Madhuri Dixit in blockbuster films like ‘Tezaab’ (1988), ‘Thanedaar’ (1990) ‘Beta’ (1992) and ‘Anjaam’ (1994). She has worked in more than 250 films.
TRIVIA: Born to Kishanchand Sadhu Singh and Noni Sadhu Singh, Saroj Khan embraced Islam at an early age.
After Saroj Khan, if there is any other choreographer who has contributed immensely to Hindi cinema, it has to be none other than Farah Khan. Though she has shifted her attention to filmmaking of late, she still remains one of the most sought-after choreographers in Hindi films. Every leading man and woman of Bollywood desires to be choreographed by the talented lady at least once in their careers. But let us tell you that at one point, Farah was just another girl trying to make a mark in Bollywood. You may not know that in her early days she appeared in a string of films as a background dancer before stardom knocked on her doors. She was a background dancer in 1986 film ‘Sadaa Suhagan’ starring Govinda. Her life changed drastically when veteran choreographer Saroj Khan decided to bow out of the Aamir Khan and Ayesha Jhulka starrer ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ (1992) at the eleventh hour and Farah Khan took over the charge. There has been no looking back ever since.
In a career spanning across three decades, Farah has worked with almost all leading actors and actresses of Bollywood, from Kajol to Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan to Salman Khan. However, her association with superstar Shah Rukh Khan has been the most fruitful one. The choreographer has made the superstar dance to many chart-busting songs. Not just as a choreographer, Farah has worked with SRK as a director also. She cast the actor in her directorial debut ‘Main Hoon Na’ (2004). The film was a huge box office success. She followed it up with ‘Om Shanti Om’ (2007) and the result was another blockbuster. As an actor-director duo, SRK and Farah last worked in ‘Happy New Year’ (2014) which was also a huge hit at the box office. The choreographer-turned-filmmaker is reportedly planning her next directorial, this time with newcomers though.
TRIVIA: Farah Khan is a first cousin of Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar.
Like every other man trying to make it big, Remo D’Souza has also gone through various highs and lows in his life. But neither he ever compromised on his dreams when things were not going his way, nor he led success go into his head after achieving so much name and fame in life and hitting the big league. Today, we know Remo D’Souza as one of the most successful and highest paid choreographers and directors of Bollywood. But how many of us know his struggle and perseverance behind reaching where he stands today. He used to work as a background dancer in films once. You can see him in many songs of the late 1990s.
After working as a choreographer in many films, Remo turned director with ‘F.A.L.T.U’ (2011), which was received well by the audience. He then decided to direct India’s first dance film called ‘ABCD – AnyBody Can Dance’ (2013), with contestants from season 1 and season 2 of Dance India Dance, a dance reality show co-judged by Remo. Despite its niche theme, the movie did well at the ticket window, prompting the director to come up with its sequel, ‘ABCD 2’ (2015), with a bigger star cast that had the liked of Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor in lead roles. He is currently working on his next directorial ‘Race 3’, which stars Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Anil Kapoor, Daisy Shah and Saqib Saleem. From working as a background dancer to directing stars like Varun Dhawan and Salman Khan in his films, Remo D’Souza has really come a long way.
TRIVIA: Before turning an independent choreographer, Remo assisted Ahmed Khan for over a year.
Also popular as Circuit, his character name from the Sanjay Dutt starrer films ‘Munna Bhai M.B.B.S’ (2003) and ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ (2006), Arshad Warsi has today established himself as one of the most sought-after actors in the comic space. The actor has been part of many successful comedy films in his career so far. His past films in the genre are enjoyed by the audience even today and have seen hundred repeats on TV. As we all know that the Rajkumar Hirani directed ‘Munna Bhai’ series featured superstar Sanjay Dutt as the male lead, but had the franchise been the same if Arshad would not have played Circuit in it.
Not just the ‘Munna Bhai’ film franchise, Arshad has proved his great comic skills in Rohit Shetty’s immensely popular ‘Golmaal’ film series also. The film franchise has seen four instalments till date, with the last one, Golmaal Again’ (2017), earning over Rs. 200 crores at the box office. Whether or not you are an Arshad Warsi fan, you must have heard a lot of things about the actor. But do you know that the talented actor started his Bollywood career as a background dancer? Yes, Arshad was a choreographer and had appeared in a couple of films as a background dancer before taking a dive into films as an actor.
Arshad always had a deep interest in dance and hence he started choreographing in films. It was during one of these dance performances that Arshad met his wife Maria. Arshad was a part of Akbar Sami’s dance group as a choreographer. At the age of 21, he laid the foundation his own dance studio. He rose to fame after choreographing the title track of ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’ (1993), starring Sridevi and Anil Kapoor. Soon, his destiny brought him in front of the camera from behind it and the rest is history.
TRIVIA: Even before beginning his career as a choreographer and then actor, Arshad used to work as a salesman who sold cosmetics door to door.
Before bagging the lead role opposite superstar Salman Khan in ‘Jai Ho’ (2014), Daisy Shah was an assistant choreographer to noted film choreographer Ganesh Acharya. She worked with him for 10 long years before entering movies as an actress. Before she played Salman Khan’s leading lady in ‘Jai Ho’, she was seen as a background dancer in many popular songs, including a song in Khan’s blockbuster film ‘Tere Naam’. Daisy Shah made her acting debut with the 2010 bilingual action-thriller ‘Vandae Maatharam’. She was seen in a special guest appearance in the movie. However, her breakout performance came when she was cast as the female lead in the 2011 Kannada film ‘Bodyguard’.
Many people had thought that making her Bollywood debut with superstar Salman Khan in ‘Jai Ho’ would smooth the way for her career in Hindi films. However, that did not happen. Despite earning over Rs. 100 crores, ‘Jai Ho’ was an average grosser at the box office. The choreographer-turned-actress did not have many films coming her way after her Hindi film debut. After ‘Jai Ho’, Daisy was next seen in Vishal Panday’s erotic thriller Hate Story 3 (2015), which was the third instalment of the popular Hindi film franchise, Hate Story. Daisy is currently shooting for her next film, Race 3, with Salman Khan. We hope the film helps her cement her position in the industry.
TRIVIA: Interestingly, before ‘Jai Ho’, Daisy was offered Salman Khan’s ‘Bodyguard’ (2011). However, she turned down the offer and the role then went to Hazel Keech, a British model turned actress who is now Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s wife.
There is a long list of actors who did a series of odd jobs before getting their first Bollywood break. One of the professions, which many consider a stepping stone to Bollywood, is modelling. Think of top actors from the current crop, and chances are there that at least a few of them would be a model before turning to acting and making a name for themselves. Anushka Sharma is one of them. Sharma made her successful acting debut with Aditya Chopra’s ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ (2008) and paved her way to superstardom. Today, she is one of the highest paid actresses in Bollywood and has won many awards and accolades. But if you think that it was a cakewalk for the actress, then think again, because, like any other newcomer aspiring to join movies, Anushka had to work immensely hard to acquire the position which she enjoys currently in Bollywood.
Before making her debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’, Anushka was into modelling. She appeared in a number of advertisements, a few of them for some popular brands also. In one of her old advertisements, which features Anjana Sukhani in the lead, we can see Anushka Sharma as one of the four background models. If you have not seen the advertisement as yet, find it on YouTube and watch. You will respect Anushka more after knowing how far she has come in Bollywood, that too without having any godfather. On the work front, Anushka is gearing up for the release of her upcoming production ‘Pari’ (2018). She is also doing a film with Shah Rukh Khan called ‘Zero’ (2018).
TRIVIA: Anushka Sharma admits that she is an attention-seeker. However, she defended herself by saying that every actor and actress is an attention-seeker.
Sushant Singh Rajput
Making a mark in Bollywood was not an easy task for one of the rising stars of Hindi cinema, Sushant Singh Rajput. The actor had to go through a lot before stardom knocked on his doors and he emerged as one of the most sought-after actors in Bollywood. Just like superstar Shahid Kapoor, Sushant was also part of Shiamak Davar’s dance troupe and delivered many powerful performances at various platforms. He was also seen in the title song of ‘Dhoom 2’ (2006) along with megastar Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. During IIFA 2017, the actor revealed that he was a background dancer and danced at one of IIFA ceremonies.
Sushant bid adieu to Shiamak Davar’s troupe when he was chosen as the male lead in Ekta Kapoor’s daily soap, ‘Pavitra Rishta’. The humongous success of the show made him a household name. He was part of the daily from 2009–2011. Meanwhile, the actor also impressed the audience with his dance performances in two dance reality shows. Sushant quit ‘Pavitra Rishta’ to make a crossover to films. He made his big Bollywood debut in 2013 with Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘Kai Po Che!’ a film based on the bestseller book, ‘Three Mistakes Of My Life’. The film was a critical and commercial success and launched Sushant’s career in films. He walked away with three Best Male Debut awards for his outstanding performances in the movie. After ‘Kai Po Che!’, Sushant appeared in many notable films like ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ (2014), ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ (2015), ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’ (2016) and ‘Raabta’ (2017). His upcoming projects include ‘Drive’ and ‘Kedarnath’.
TRIVIA: Apart from assisting director Mohit Suri on ‘Raaz 2’ in 2009, Sushant Singh Rajput has also danced with Ashley Lobo’s troupe.
When we talk about celebrities who worked as background dancers before attaining stardom in Hindi films, the first name which automatically comes to our mind is of superstar Shahid Kapoor. We all know that Shahid was a background dancer in renowned choreographer Shaimak Davar’s dance troupe. He even featured in popular songs like ‘Ley Gayi Le Gayi’ from the Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor starrer romantic drama ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997) and ‘Kabhi Aag Lage Lag Jaave’ from Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s superhit film ‘Taal’ (1999). Whenever you see these songs on television or YouTube, you can easily spot the lean lad Shahid used to be back then.
Shahid is the son of renowned actors Pankaj Kapur and Neelima Azeem. Despite his family being so well-connect to the industry, Shahid never used their contacts to gain his footing in the Bollywood. He wanted to achieve success on his own and hence kept working tirelessly to make his dreams come true. While working for Shaimak Davar’s troupe, Shahid got an opportunity to feature in Aryans’ music video ‘Aankhon Mein, which turned out to be a chartbuster. After a couple of years, Shahid landed his first movie role in Ramesh Taurani’s teenage romance Ishq Vishq (2003) opposite Amrita Rao and Shenaz Treasurywala. The film emerged as a sleeper hit at the ticket window and the actor walked away with the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. There has been no looking back for the actor ever since. In a career of one and a half decade, Shahid has been part of some brilliant films like ‘Vivah’ (2006), ‘Jab We Met’ (2007), ‘Kaminey’ (2009), ‘Haider’ (2014) and ‘Udta Punjab’ (2016). The actor won the Filmfare Best Actor Male Award for his intense act in Vishal Bhardwaj’s film, ‘Haider’ (2014).
TRIVIA: Shahid Kapoor was voted as the ‘Sexiest Male Vegetarian In Asia’ by PETA in the year 2009.