Who choreographed 'Pehla Nasha' in 'Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar'?

Farah Khan has claimed over the years that she choreographed the song and that Saroj Khan had been sacked by Mansoor

Still from "Pehla Nasha"
Still from "Pehla Nasha"

Subhash K Jha

What happened to Mansoor Ali Khan? Aamir Khan’s cousin made four films Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Akele Hum Akele Tum and Josh. He then migrated out of Mumbai to devote his time to farming.

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar which was Mansoor’s second feature film was inured in controversies from the word go.The cast kept changing right into the shooting. For the female lead, Girija Shettar, a British actress who had worked with the likes Mani Ratnam and Priyadarshan in the South, was finalized. She even shot for the film. But Girija was replaced by Ayesha Jhulka

For Deepak Tijori’s role, Milind Soman had already shot for nearly 70 percent of the film before he was given marching orders . For the role of Aamir’s elder brother Aditya Pancholi was the first choice. He was replaced by Mamik Singh who found fleeting fame after the film but soon faded away.

But the biggest controversy surrounding Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar had to do with the choreography of the iconic song Pehla Nasha. Farah Khan claimed over the years that she choreographed the song and that Saroj Khan was sacked by Mansoor.

Here is what happened. Saroj Khan went to Kodaikanal for 17 days to shoot three songs. Saroj shot a song with Girija Shattar. It took 17 days. Busy as she was, Saroj was pressed for time. She had to go to Shimla to shoot a song with Jackie Shroff for Rakesh Roshan in King Uncle. Mansoor suggested Saroj prepare the steps for Aamir in the song Pehla nasha which Mansoor wanted to shoot in high-speed definition.

According to one of the actors who was present Mansoor suggested to Saroj, ‘Tu ek kaam kar. Show me the steps, leave your assistants here and you go and come back from Shimla, we’ll do rehearsals with Aamir.’ After composing the steps for Aamir and briefing him on how to shoot in high-speed Saroj left behind two assistants Upendra and Sheila. She went straight to Shimla.

When she returned to Mumbai she heard Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar had been stalled because the leading lady Girija Shettar had problems. The heroine had to be changed. All the schedules went awry. Eventually when they were shooting a song with Pooja Bedi they called Saroj. It was impossible for her to accommodate Mansoor into her date diary. Saroj told Mansoor to do Pooja Bedi’s song with another choreographer and that Saroj would take it up from the second song.

Because Farah was an assistant director to Mansoor he told her to pitch in a bit of choreography for the title song of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. But according to Saroj, Farah distorted the facts to claim that Saroj had been sacked from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. When Saroj told Mansoor this, he had called up Farah in front of Saroj to confront them.

Incidentally Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar didn’t do well on release. The audience in non-metropolitan sectors found it to be more about cycling than cinema.

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