Salman Yusuf Khan: I am disappointed about leaving Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa halfway

Salman Yusuf Khan, the first winner of Dance India Dance (Season 1), is all set to foray into mainstream cinema with his first movie as a choreographer. And even as he gets candid about his future pla

Salman Yusuf Khan: I am disappointed about leaving Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa halfway

He moves like a dream and ends up partnering some of the hottest babes on Jhalak. The choreographer talks to BollywoodLife about Isha Sharwani and his upcoming B-town projects

Salman Yusuf Khan, the first winner of Dance India Dance (Season 1), is all set to foray into mainstream cinema with his first movie as a choreographer. And even as he gets candid about his future plans, he mulls over his journey with Isha Sharwani on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 5. Read on…


You’ve become a star choreographer and a known face on Indian television in a very short span of time. What is the secret of your instant success?

I think it was me as an individual that worked. I have always given my 100 per cent to whatever I have done. I have always aimed to do better each time and I think that is what has worked for me.

What is your equation with Remo D’Souza?

I consider Remo sir my mentor. I consult him before anything and everything I do.

So who did you learn dance from?

I have been a dancer ever since I can remember. Of course, it became more serious once I came to India. I was a part of a dance studio, learned a lot of things watching YouTube videos and sometimes took part in workshops held by foreign instructors. That’s been my foundation in dancing.

You’ve got your first big Bollywood break as a professional choreographer…Is this what you really dreamed of?

Not really! Honestly, I never dreamed of anything this big. I am a very practical guy and I never really thought I could make it this big. Coming from a conservative middle class Muslim family, I was very rooted in my aspirations as well. My dreams were just about settling down – finishing my engineering, doing my MBA, getting a nine-to-five job, and getting my sister married. I had my priorities and life sorted until it took a turn with DID. Now, I have more options and I let my creativity and hard work flow through my acting and dancing.

So would you say you have achieved all your dreams?

So far I am fulfilling my dreams one at a time. I am still on my way.

Would you describe yourself as a taskmaster?

I am a very tough person to work with. When I imagine something in my head, I want it to turn out exactly how it was in my mind. In that way, I’m definitely a taskmaster.

What did Vivek Agnihotri say when he offered the film Freedom to you?

My conversation with Vivek Agnihotri was my first job interview. He asked me if I could choreograph a song. I immediately said ‘yes’. Then he asked me if I was willing to do the entire album? There was no reason to say no. He asked me how was I different from my mentor Remo? Is there anything I could do that even Remo couldn’t? I just told him that I have never compared myself to anyone. I always think out of the box. Being conventional is just not my thing.

Then he gave me a situation and asked me how I’d shoot it. I gave him a few ideas and he was impressed.

What is Freedom – the film all about?

The movie is set in the ‘80s. It is about three friends. The film revolves around how creative people make a breakthrough in life, and the role played by our education system.

Coming to Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 5, do you regret Isha Sharwani’s decision to withdraw at the last moment?

I was very upset and disappointed. Whenever I take up something, I am in it to win it. I am a very competitive person. It’s just the way I was born. Talking just about me – I am a fighter. I have never backed out of anything I have taken up – no matter what the situation was. I give it my all. I had put in a lot of time, effort and patience into the show. I knew that Isha is a brilliant dancer and I could use her to her full potential to achieve the title. So yes, I was disappointed. Nonetheless, I have made my peace with it now.

Did you try convincing Isha?

Yes I did. I tried my best, but it was just not meant to be. Jhalak this season was not in my naseeb (fate) that’s how I take it.

Two things you like and dislike about Isha?

I like Isha’s dedication and perseverance. On a professional note, there’s nothing I hate about her. And personally, we’ve never really interacted outside of work. Whenever we met, it was always about work and sharing new ideas. I am a really boring person that way. You can call me workaholic. For the past three and half years, I have been running a race to be the best at what I do.

As a choreographer, who was your biggest threat on Jhalak?

Truthfully, no one! I have never considered anyone competition. I got into this competition to challenge and compete with myself. I keep testing myself.

What was your first starry moment?

I can never forget this. I was invited to Meerut for DID’s promotional event. There was a crowd of 5000 people waiting to cheer for me, catch a glimpse of me and shake my hand. I was moving with eight bodyguards and four gunmen around me. The crowd was shaking the car and I couldn’t move. Finally, I had to roll down my window and get on to the mic to tell them that I was overwhelmed by their love, but I have to leave. Now I know what it feels to be Shahrukh Khan. And how can I forget the day I won DID. Twenty-five thousand people shouting my name was an experience I’ll never forget.

Films or reality shows?

After this reality show, I think I prefer films.

Ever thought of going international?

I would love to. I want to train myself and learn the LA style. If I get an opportunity, I will.

A Bollywood star you would want to dance with?

I have danced with Remo sir and Prabhu Deva – the Indian Michael Jackson. Nothing can be bigger than that. But I would love to dance with Hrithik sir once.

Moving to choices: Isha Sharwani or Yana Gupta?

It’s not a fair question. They were both blessed dancers. Both of them dedicated their time and submitted themselves to me as students. They didn’t have any starry tantrums, not that I would have taken it, of course. But I think Isha had lesser tantrums than Yana. But I managed to get what I wanted from them.

Who is a better dancer – Yana or Isha?

Isha of course, with the kind of training she has received. Isha any day!

Who is hotter – Yana or Isha?

Both are not my type.

Oh, so what’s your type?

I think a simple, cultured desi girl – someone who is a perfect blend of Indian and western values.

You seem very confused about that…

Yeah…of course I am. How would I know what kind of girl I’ll get? Insha’Allah whoever it is, it will be forever. I believe I am a one woman man, very old fashioned and romantic. So I am going to take my time to find the right person.


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