New Delhi: Ukranian ballroom dance expert Maksim Chmerkovskiy is on his maiden visit to the country as the first international judge of reality TV show `Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa`. He believes India`s "exotic appeal" and the "positivity" of its people attracts foreigners, and he is sure he`ll take back "a lot" upon his return.
Chmerkovskiy has come down to Mumbai all the way from New Jersey, US, to judge the Indian version of internationally popular show `Dancing With The Stars`, in which he`s participated as a choreographer for 14 times, and the 18th edition of which he recently won with figure skater Meryl Davis as his partner.
"As a family, we love learning and we grew up wanting to know more, be educated geographically and be aware politically. I don`t think people here know that India is one country they (foreigners) really want to visit because it has that exotic appeal," Chmerkovskiy said over phone from the country`s Bollywood hub.
"India is highly regarded for its beliefs, culture, positivity and emotions," added the 34-year-old, who hopes to "do my best" as a judge on the seventh season of `Jhalak...`. It has Bollywood beauty Madhuri Dixit, filmmaker Karan Johar and choreographer-director Remo D`Souza on the judges` panel.
Bollywood, he feels, has a "tingling and feel-good factor" about it and that it is "more popular than Hollywood".
He said: "Where`s the entertainment in horror movies or in blood and death on screen? That`s not entertaining!"
"Singing and dancing is entertaining, not an angry face on the screen," added the dancer, whose favourite part about `Jhalak...` is that he doesn`t see "upset people".
"Everyone is so pleasant, they thank you (us) for judging, however you judge, and they cherish and value advise," said the professional, who started dancing when he was just four.
When he returns to his home, he knows he`s going to take away a lot from India, including a couple of Bollywood dance moves. But for now, he`s soaking in the joy of being in Mumbai, and hopes to venture out and even go to other cities.
His focal point is the wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal in Agra.
"I really want to go to the Taj Mahal. I just want to witness it by myself," said the enthusiastic young dance expert.
But he`s also aware that his duties on "Jhalak..." will keep him occupied. And he`s quite loving it - sharing the panel with Madhuri, Remo and Karan - whose popularity he was unaware of until he came down here.
"It`s a great judging panel. We`re all coming from different areas. Remo and I have an almost similar scoring pattern because we`re in the same field, whereas Madhuri, as I have come to know, has around 30 years of experience in acting and dancing, and she`s trained in traditional Indian style," said Chmerkovskiy, who has been most recently linked to Latino star Jennifer Lopez.
"And then... Karan, yes...oh my god! He is highly regarded and a brilliant director and people give him so much respect on the set. I think we`re going to have some amazing judgement," he said.