Maliaka Arora, who started her career in showbiz as a VJ, slowly cemented her place as one of the best dancers in Bollywood. She became an overnight sensation in the late 90s after she featured in Bally Sagoo’s popular song, Gur nalon ishq mitha, and followed it up with the superhit item number, Chaiyya chaiyya, in the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dil Se.
Malaika today is shining on the small screen as a judge on reality shows like India’s Got Talent, India’s Best Dancer, India’s Next Top Model, among several others. Though she is an actor, producer, dancer, model and fitness enthusiast, Malaika will forever be the Chaiyya chaiyya girl for millennials. “I am glad I said yes to that song. Receiving fame, name and recognition with Chaiyya chaiyya, one of my first movie dance numbers, was an amazing, beautiful and wonderful feeling. It proved to be path-breaking in many ways. And I got the best song to perform to,” Malaika recalls.
Malaika is currently seen as the judge on the second season of India’s Best Dancer alongside choreographers Terence Lewis and Geeta Kapur. The show is hosted by Maniesh Paul and airs on Sony TV on the weekends. All three judges will choose talent based on three criteria. During the auditions, the contestants will get 90 seconds to impress the judges with their act and move ahead in the competition.
“It’s the new season, and we need to push the envelope to find good talent so that we can help these dancers hone their skills. Each of us has a certain responsibility by executing our duties as judges. We are known as the ENT specialists — Entertainment, Newness and Technique. Together, we will scrutinise the talent based on our areas of expertise and find #BestKaNextAvtar this season. I am looking at the entertainment quotient, so I want to be entertained. If that aspect is lacking, the performance will seem incomplete. The talent will never be able to reach out to the judges or the audiences. So, for me, entertainment is important. It’s a process and a journey, and I want to have fun. I can be strict, and if I don’t like something, I will point it out. But, I want to enjoy the process,” Malaika shares.
Urging the contestants to have fun and enjoy the process as well, Malaika says they should make the best “use of the platform” to showcase their talent. Speaking about the camaraderie among the judges, Malaika says, “Terrance has to bear with the two women next to him — we are the majority, he is the minority. He also has to tolerate humari nok jhok and shararatein (our banter and pranks).”
As an independent, strong woman, Malaika says, “I come from a predominantly matriarchal family — it’s women all the way! I draw strength from my family and friends. They are my inspiration.”
Malaika, who was married to actor and producer Arbaaz Khan, is a proud mommy to Arhaan. Speaking about her son’s aspirations, she says, “He is still too young now, and he is figuring out what he wants to do. I am sure in due course of time he will make up his mind.”