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  • Writer's pictureRamachandran Srinivasan

Saroj Khan's last tango

Legendary Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan, fondly known as Master ji, passed away at the age of 71 on Friday early morning due to a cardiac arrest. The above picture is of hers from the song Aaiye Meherbaan from the film Howrah Bridge.

Khan had been admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital Bandra, Mumbai last month after complaining of breathlessness. She was tested for COVID-19 which came out to be negative.

She had a venerable career spanning across 4 decades, won three national awards and gave Bollywood some of its most memorable dance numbers.

Saroj Khan became a coveted choreographer in the industry after her first hit number with Sridevi in the epochal song Hawa Hawai from Mr. India; post which she made Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit the reigning dancers of Bollywood.

Later she honed Aishwarya Rai, Kajol and Urmila Matondkar to give out some great dance numbers.

Saroj was a little girl when she began her career as an actress and a dancer. Here she is seen in a film called Aaghosh where she plays little Radha.

Throughout her career she choreographed innumerable songs and award-winning hits including Ek Do Teen with Madhuri Dixit from Tezaab, Dola Re Dola from Devdas, Yeh Ishq Haye from Jab We Met, Main Nagin Tu Sapera, Hawa Hawai both with Sridevi from Nagina and Mr. India respectively creating a global fan base. Her effervescence and simplicity as a reality TV show judge was widely accepted by the audience.

All of Bollywood paid her tribute through the medium of Twitter.

Tweeted Madhuri Dixit, “I’m devastated with the loss of my friend and guru Saroj Khan.”, Shah Rukh Khan was emotional. “My first genuine teacher in the film industry. She taught me for hours how to do the ‘dip’ for film dancing. One of the most caring, loving and inspiring persona I have ever met.”

Said Remo D’Souza “Got up with a huge pain in my heart... will never forget the love and the passion with which you could choreograph each song... Thank you for teaching me so much.”

Akshay Kumar tweeted, “She made dance look easy, almost like anybody can dance”, Nimrat Kaur expressed “There will never be another”, while Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee prayed for her soul.

Riteish Deshmukh expressed, “having choreographed more than 2000 songs, Saroj ji single-handedly changed the way songs were shot.”, Neil Nitin Mukesh felt, “ Her grace, her simplicity, her iconic moves and her legacy are immortalised.”

Kunal Kohli said, “I lovingly called her hamare pyare master ji. Her loud seeti... she had ada like no one else... Hindi cinema has lost its ada.”

Probably Subhash Ghai expressed the feelings of the entire fraternity by calling it “my personal loss... Saroj Khan will live in the history of choreography of music Indian cinema. Bye jaan.”

Saroj Khan is survived by her three children Hamid, Hina and Sukaina and her grandchildren.

Incidentally Saroj Khan’s last tweet was about Sushant Singh Rajput where she wished he could have spoken to an elder instead of taking a drastic step. As for Saroj ji, from marrying an already married dance master Sohanlal at 13 to turning mother at 14 to becoming the unparalleled dance legend, she lived her life to the fullest and left behind an immortal legacy that will be matched by none. There should be the words ‘She danced her way to the heavens’ written on her tombstone.

  • Siddhant Gill

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