After bagging the National Award for best choreography for Ghoomar in Padmaavat in 2019, choreographer Kruti Mahesh went on to craft yet another masterpiece. Her Dholida, the hit song from Gangubai Kathiawadi, recently hit 100 million views on YouTube. In conversation with Travel + Leisure India & South Asia, the dancer shares her inspirations, the destinations she would love to shake a leg at, and her favourite food stops in the City of Dreams. By Srushti Kulkarni
T+L India: How old were you when you decided to be a dancer? Give us a glimpse into your journey so far.
Kruti Mahesh: Singing and dancing came as a part and parcel of the Tamil-Brahmin culture. I was more inclined towards dancing and a girl who couldn’t stay in one place for long. Therefore, my parents decided to enroll me in a dance class when I was five years old. I have been dancing ever since; dancing has been a hobby and a passion. My decision to pursue dance professionally kicked in post ‘Dance India Dance’ and I have devoted all my time only to dance and its creative forms ever since.
T+L India: What is your vocabulary of dance?
Kruti Mahesh: From Indian classical to experimental contemporary and hip hop to folk, there is always more to learn.
T+L India: Your reaction to winning a National Award for best choreography for the song ‘Ghoomar’ from Padmaavat?
Kruti Mahesh: It was surreal.
T+L India: In another interview, you mentioned that Dholida is “a masterpiece”. What were your initial thoughts when Sanjay Leela Bhansali shared his vision for the garba number in Gangubai?
Kruti Mahesh: My initial thoughts were that of sheer joy and excitement. Being a Mumbaikar and lover of garba, Dholida gave me a reason for me to represent both. Dholida has every emotion that needs to be celebrated and I just had to be mindful to commemorate every beat. When Sanjay Sir viewed it for the first time, he was very ecstatic.
T+L India: You have choreographed several songs in several destinations, how does it feel to groove in exotic locations?
Kruti Mahesh: Every new place has a new fragrance of freshness that feels awesome. Yet, there is still so much to explore, be it for work or pleasure.
T+L India: Does travel inspire you and your choreography?
Kruti Mahesh: I love travelling. It opens my mind and lets it breathe and fly. It has helped me open new doors to my mind.
T+L India: Which is your favourite city and why?
Kruti Mahesh: Favourite city in India: Mumbai, because it makes me feel safe and secure besides exploring street food, quirky places and most importantly people. Favourite City in the world: London, because it’s London.
T+L India: Have you ever travelled for research purposes or to master culture-specific dances?
Kruti Mahesh: Not specifically. But whenever I travel, I do my own little research and learn more about the local culture and heritage.
T+L India: Your happiest travel memory to date?
Kruti Mahesh: That will be my first family trip to Mahabaleshwar.
T+L India: Dance on stage or at a famous tourist destination?
Kruti Mahesh: I choose to dance all around the globe, anywhere to everywhere.
T+L India: If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be?
Kruti Mahesh: Mumbai, Powai.
T+L India: Any destination that has had a lasting impact on you personally or professionally?
Kruti Mahesh: London, because I pursued my MSc in Forensics from London South Bank University.
T+L India: Some of your favourite recommendations for street food and fine dining in Mumbai?
Kruti Mahesh: Amar Juice Centre for pav bhaji, Powai Galleria serves the best pani puri and the Haji Ali juice Centre sells sitaphal- and any fruit-cream. My favourite place to dine is Madeira and Mime in Powai. It’s a concept-based fun restaurant, where you have to order using sign language as the hospitality staff is deaf and mute.
T+L India: Which is your favourite dance form?
Kruti Mahesh: I keep learning new forms. I have phases of favourites. But I have constantly stuck to classical and Bollywood.
T+L India: What are your travel essentials?
Kruti Mahesh: A small hand or waist pouch, document holder, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, toiletries, air pods, neck pillow, portable adapter, wet wipes, face mask and climate-specific outfits.
T+L India: Any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?
Kruti Mahesh: I have a few lined up. A lovely garba is coming up with Madhuri [Dixit] ma’am, another project that is very close to my heart.