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Ruel hip-hops his way to Bollywood

Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Hrithik Roshan have grooved to the steps of hip-hop star Ruel D. Varindani

Anannya Chatterjee 12 April 2016, 8:56 PM
From the Philippines to Bollywood, Ruel has come a long way.

From the Philippines to Bollywood, Ruel has come a long way. Anuja Gupta

Ruel D. Varindani has hip-hopped his way from the Philippines to Bollywood, landing on the sets of stars like Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan, no less.

He taught Lauren Gottlieb to drive and swing as she planted a Calcutta Kiss on Dibakar Banerjee's Detective Byomkesh Bakshi. The half-Indian, half-Filipino dancer has come a long way since he helped Farah Khan teach Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif to Just Chill in Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya in 2005.

Ruel is also the man who introduced krumping, an American street dance form that helps you vent your anger and frustration, in India when he came to the country in 2000. “I got inspired by the American way of choreography and their clothing style. In 1997, I started building my own crew and started competing all over Asia. I wanted to take a stand for a team, a community,” he says. “For us hip-hoppers, we are one team and we have similar likes and dislikes. I talk, walk, sleep, eat, drink and only think about hip hop culture.”

Ruel introduced krumping to India. Image: Anuja Gupta

He used to find hip-hop music “quite silly” but “it was American street style clothing” which made him fall for the dance form.

In 2005, he assisted Farah Khan on the song Just Chill from Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya. It was then that he was noticed by Geeta Kapoor, who used to work with Farah. Geeta decided to turn into an independent choreographer after that, and made Ruel a part of her team. “Geeta Kapoor is the one who made me what I am today. I treat her like my mother and she treats me like her son, her baby. Whatever I have learnt today, whatever connections I have in Bollywood are all because of her,” he says.

He has trained contestants from all the seasons of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, Dance India Dance and Nach Baliye. And he has worked with almost all the top actors in Bollywood. But the two stars who do hip-hop best, according to Ruel, are Hrithik and Lauren. “With Hrithik, you just go on the set, tell him the routine and shoot it. He just knows what to do and doesn't take much time to learn a step. Lauren Gottlieb is my absolute favourite, she is a treat to work with,” he says.

Lately, there have been a lot of hip hop dancers and crews on television. So who does Ruel see as the top three? “One has to be my own crew (laughs). The rest are The Fictitious Group, who won India's Got Talent Season 2 and was also a part of Any Body Can Dance 2, which was choreographed by Remo D'Souza. My third favourite crew is 13.13 from the reality show Dance Plus,” he says.

Ruel dreams of having a hip hop concert of his own with dancers from India and other Asian countries. We'd pay to watch that.


Watch Ruel go Whip and Nae Nae, while we put our hands up and say Yay

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