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Shah Rukh Khan performs in one of the best Bollywood dance scenes of all time

The ten best Bollywood dance scenes

A Bollywood film just ain’t right until someone’s dancing. These are the greatest shape-throwing moments in Hindi movie history

By Time Out Film
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You might think you know exactly how to bust those Bollywood dance moves – but, trust us, it’s best left to the professionals. Here we’ve picked some of the most memorable and jaw-dropping dance scenes from Bollywood movies old and new. So take a look, start copying these routines in the mirror, and soon you too might be able to dance like Shah Rukh Khan on top of a moving train (although we’d prefer it if you didn’t try that). Cue music! 

By Anil Sinanan and Ashanti Omkar

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best Bollywood movies

The best Bollywood dance scenes

Devdas Poster

1. ‘Dola Re Dola’

Film: ‘Devdas’ (2002)

Bollywood kitsch doesn’t get any better than this energetic dance performed on screen in ‘Devdas’ by the two reigning divas of the time, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai.

Dance director Farah Khan dressed the two women in white chiffon saris, and each circles the other, intent on outperforming her counterpart. The result is a camp and colourful visual treat unsurpassed to this day.

Sholay Poster

2. ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’

Film: ‘Sholay’ (1975)

Before leading ladies in Bollywood were able to play bold and confident characters, almost every film included a ‘vamp’. She was usually the gangster’s moll and wore ‘western’ clothes, smoked, drank alcohol and danced in a skimpy outfit to a cabaret number.

Helen, Bollywood’s most famous vamp, may have well been past her prime when she gyrated in a belly-dancer’s outfit to this RD Burman track (inspired by a song from Greek singer Demis Roussos) – but still she managed to prove that she was Bollywood’s best.

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Baar Barr Dekho

3. ‘Kala Chashma’

Film: ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ (2016)

Inspired by the 2006 Adam Sandler vehicle ‘Click’, ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ was unloved by the critics and the box office, but this song took over Bollywood. Katrina Kaif, often lauded by her co-stars for putting her all into her dancing, serves some fierce choreography to this breezy bhangra-infused R&B bop. It’s no surprise that Bosco-Caesar, the illustrious Indian choreographer duo comprised of  Bosco Martis and Caesar Gonsalves, picked up the award for Best Choreography at the Zee Cine Awards in 2017. 

Lagaan Poster

4. ‘Radha Kaise Na Jale’

Film: ‘Lagaan’ (2001)

Renowned choreographer Saroj Khan took this rustic, evocative melody by double Oscar and double Grammy winner AR Rahman, and created a visual masterpiece to match. Bollywood heavyweight Aamir Khan and co-star Gracy Singh, who is trained in both Odissi and Bharatanatyam classical Indian dance styles, twirl, jump and shimmy to perfection, while Asha Bhosle and Udit Narayan provide the song’s vocals.  

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Dabangg

5. ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’

Film: ‘Dabangg’ (2010)

In 2010 the competition between ‘item songs’ in Bollywood movies reached its peak as filmmakers tried to push the taste barriers as far as they could.

Malaika Arora’s ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’ proudly proclaimed that she was ‘infamous’ and did not go out with guys ‘with no money’, while Katrina Kaif’s ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ in ‘Tees Maar Khan’ just wanted to ‘express love’ to herself as she was ‘too sexy’ for anyone else. ‘Munni’ won as ‘Dabangg’ became a blockbuster and ‘Tees Maar Khan’ crashed at the box office.

Bajirao Mastani Poster

6. ‘Pinga’

Film: ‘Bajirao Mastani’ (2015)

The ruling queens of Bollywood, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Deepika Padukone, both of whom are now also making waves in Hollywood, delighted audiences with this emotive sequence that sees the pair dance off in similar sarees. Choreographer Remo D'Souza was nominated at the Filmfare Awards and won the Producers Guild Film Award for Best Choreography for the performance. Providing the vocals are Shreya Ghoshal and Vaishali Mhade, while the film’s director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, composed the track.  

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KhalNayak Poster

7. ‘Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai’

Film: ‘Khalnayak’ (1993)

‘What’s beneath your blouse?’ is the opening line of this notorious smash hit. The camera then cuts to lead lady Madhuri Dixit who heaves her ample chest whilst giggling shyly and replying that it’s her ‘dil’ (heart).

The song was widely condemned for its naughty lyrics but Saroj Khan’s innovate choreography and Dixit’s nimble moves resulted in a dance considered sensuous without being vulgar. The popularity of this dance sequence was largely responsible for an unremarkable crime movie becoming a blockbuster.

Read more about Madhuri Dixit in our list of the ten best Bollywood actresses of all time.

Mr India Poster

8. ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’

Film: ‘Mr India’ (1987)

Sri Devi was Bollywood’s leading actress in the 1980s, and in ‘Mr India’ she enthralled audiences by swaying her buxom figure in a free-flowing blue sari whilst ‘singing’ to her invisible superhero lover.

This is probably the most dignified example of the now-dated ‘saucy wet sari song’ template, which often sees a film’s heroine clad in a flimsy white cotton sari and getting drenched in the rain, so that the director can show off her body without resorting to actual nudity.

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Dil Se poster

9. ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’

Film: ‘Dil Se..’ (1998)

Any dance scene that features one of Bollywood’s most famous leading men, Shah Rukh Khan, and one of the most revered dancers, actress-turned-host of ‘India’s Next Top Model’ Malaika Arora, deserves attention. Add the fact that the whole sequence takes place on top of a moving steam train (!) and you’ve got yourself something only the brilliance and wonder of Indian cinema could produce. The song, written by the legendary AR Rahman, is so catchy that it’s found its way into a number of English-language films and TV shows, like ‘Inside Man’ and ‘CSI: Miami’. 

‘Mughal-e-Azam’ poster

10. ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’

Film: ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ (1960)

This black-and-white film set in the sixteenth-century imperial court suddenly bursts into vivid colour for a classic Lata Mangeshkar song, danced brilliantly by Madhubala, the film’s leading lady. Filmed in a hall of mirrors, the dance explores the forbidden love a dancing-girl slave feels for a prince – despite the king’s displeasure.

The song title translates as ‘Why fear when in love?’ and it remains a defiant anthem for anyone who dares to love above his or her class or caste. It’s also one of those rare times in Hindi cinema when a dance helps to move the story forward.

More from the world of Bollywood

The 100 best Bollywood movies

Film

What does Bollywood mean to you? India, music, romance, song, drama, dance, comedy, action? All of the above? Here, we celebrate the popular, mainstream face of Hindi movies – the big films that have been entertaining audiences in India and across the globe for more than six decades.

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