Carlos D’Silva has gracefully pirouetted on his life path, making the transition from dancer to director. Monarose Sheila Pereira is perfectly in step with him, as Carlos speaks of his life's turning points, influences that shaped him as a professional and person, and sheds light on the upcoming flick that he's helming...
How exactly did you kick-start you career as a dancer?
I was a professional dancer from the age of 18. I used to compete with dancers in the league of Longinus Fernandes, Javed Jaffrey, Naved Jaffrey, Ravi Behl, Hemu Sinha and Arshad Warsi (who are now my friends) in competitions around 1985. I joined hands with Gilroy Gonsalves and we formed our own group called 'Fast Forward' This was my launch pad into choreography and direction of video albums. The first album was for Sultan( not the latest movie), which was produced by Times Music. It was a re-mix album of an old film 'Heera' and the song was 'Main Tujse Milne Aayi'. It was a famous song of the film starring Sunil Dutt and produced by the legendary late Sultan Ahmed’s wife Farha Sultan Ahmed.
How did you study choreography?
I realised I had a natural talent for dancing and choreography. Though along the way I took inputs and learnt from some of the top dancers, especially from Hemu Sinha, Javed Jaffrey and gradually I got a grip on the subject. Unlike today, in those days there were no institutes teaching dancing and films; and the only way to study choreography was to work in the field. I am a generalist and incorporate different styles of dancing. I started with break dancing and body popping. Then I got into jive and rock and roll under the guidance of Javed Jaffrey. Most of the dancers were my childhood friends and we used to hang out together.
How long did it take you to move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
It took me two years to make this transition. You have to be ready to observe and learn.
What made you go into films?
Growing up in Bandra in a typically Christian neighbourhood, my childhood has memories of watching comedy dramas and plays in the Konkani language. Memories of Prince Jacob are still fresh in my mind. My dad had a great sense of humour and his comic-timing was bang on. Add to this, growing up with the film families of the Khans and the Pandeys influenced my foray into films. I was always in awe of the body of work they have done and continue to do so. It is from my dad I learnt to tell stories from daily life observations and I suspect I have got his genes for comedy. This is how my forte was and still is comedy. Even my entire group circle of friends had some comic elements in them. They encouraged me to bring out and express my comedy. I had also associated with the legendary late Sultan Ahmed saab and learnt the finer nuances of film-making from him on the job. I have been writing a story since the last four years and am working on a Hindi movie in the comedy genre titled ‘Hum Hain Chaaptar’.
Tell us something about your film...
My film is different and fresh; a movie that people across all age groups will identify with. Alongside seasoned artistes, there are elements of real life and animated characters too; something that has not been tried before and could safely be said as a first in the Indian film industry. It is a masala film with a good message. It portrays the struggles, what most of us would experience at some point or the other in everyday life. It is a light-hearted comedy and a film for the entire family.
How difficult was it to get into Bollywood?
Getting into Bollywood is not easy for a newcomer, especially with no Godfather. So it took me a great while to set foot in this industry. However, I must say I have a great mentor in Arbaaz Khan, who continues to advise and guide me. He has always challenged me to – ‘do it yourself and make it big’. There are many other friends and acquaintances in the industry who have helped along the way and brought me to this stage. To succeed you need to have conviction, commitment, perseverance and a ‘never -say-die’ attitude. You need to ‘keep going on’.
How important is it to have contacts?
In business and particularly in the industry that I am in, contacts or knowing the right people in the right place is very important and integral. I have been very fortunate that I have friends who have been with me since childhood and have now grown into valuable relationships. Also, it is integral to my nature to maintain cordial relationships with whomever I come across in life. This has helped me grow as a human being.
What advice do you have for students who want to join films?
Firstly you have to be a keen observer. Watch shootings in progress and understand the making. Have an eye for detail. You need to be patient, persevering and efficacious. You need people skills because you have to direct your team. Understand what audience you are catering to. Always carry a pen and paper to write what you have observed, who you have met and what you have heard the director talking on the set and saying about every shot.