Never ever ever did I think I'd ever write something on an Indian dancing show... in complimentary terms.
But I gotta say this about the Zee TV Dance India Dance show. Just absolutely amazing. Everything about the show except maybe for the sets.. which aren't bad really, they just don't do justice to the amazing dancers, the really good judges, decent anchors and the fantastic fantastic Mithunda who does one helluva job being the "grandmaster".
I don't give out compliments easily but where it is deserved, they go.
I've never seen a show on a Hindi GE channel that I was fascinated by. Never. Vijay TV has some innovative shows like Ipadikku Rose and a few others including comedy shows like *Lollu Sabha which have really good concepts and pretty good implementation and I don't watch other language GE channels of course. And I do a lot of browsing and I'm pretty sure I've seen at least two or three episodes of every show on Hindi and Tamil GE channels (except for the completely irredeemable ones).
First things first; Zee's Dance India Dance has simply the most amazing dance and dancers I've seen on TV, including "So Yo Think You Can Dance" that draws from the most vibrant dance community, the US. Its gratifying to see such amazing dance and variety among Indian dancers. I did think what next for these guys? But then I put it aside because the dancing was just too fascinating to think too much during the show.
Next comes the best job I've seen done by an anchor judge, Mithunda. Crisp with very little or no flabby gyaan, incisive comments and ones that even a layman like me can see matter and pertinent. And he is great fun too!
And then there are the three judges who each mentor a certain number of dancers, choreograph and choose styles for the dancers' efforts. Do I credit them or the dancers with the really innovative dances and the introduction of never before seen styles into Indian TV? They do a great job of mentoring and judging. The non-existence of a point system and a simple elimination system seems to help their objectivity too. Remo, Terence and Geeta gave me a measure of faith that there can be sanity in the crap that is the usual dance TV.
This is also one dance show that has very little flab in the way of useless drama, the crafted behind-the-scenes bitching, the mummy-daddy sentiment etc. etc. It does, of course, but its kept to a bare minimum. Also we've a wide selection of people from various places, even one who doesn't speak Hindi at all and speaks only Malayalam, which ... Mithunda translates for us :D. The diversity immediately speaks in terms of competence of dancers who introduce to us diversity in styles and moves. Its a wonder that the incredibly stale punjabi staple of both people and dance still finds takers among the producers of other shows. Its automatically assumed that for any dance or reality show you need a vast majority of participants from Punjab and Delhi the concept which this show uncerimoniously flushes down the toilet. The best dancer here so far being a Muslim from Bangalore, Salman. I'm assuming that these guys will mine even better showstoppers if they reach into TN, Andhra and the NE.
Even the onscreen histrionics you see on dance shows and reality TV is helluva lot better. Its not over the top and seems to have very little scripting. I might be wrong but is it real embarrassment I see in the anchors' faces when they announce an elimination? The responses to winning a certain round or a spot prize or losing also seems pretty raw and un-scripted and Mithunda's zingers are definitely un-rehearsed.
All in all, from locking-popping to madhuri jhatkas, from pole dancing to belly dancing, from staid tangos to item numbers the dancing has taken my breath away and is as of now the ONLY show I watch on a Hindi GE channel.
Mebbe I should buy some UTV and Zee shares. The disclaimer being ... the episodes that have the auditions are nothing to write home about.