Bollywood called her Masterji. Saroj Khan was one such maestro and an irreplaceable face of Indian dance whose demise has left many dance lovers and connoisseurs at a loss, personally and for words. Here are some of her iconic choreographed numbers
It was much before YouTube had begun to be identified as a medium of teaching or learning new skills digitally when ace choreographer Saroj Khan, popularly known as Masterji, taught dance on a Bollywood number through a TV show, one episode at a time. Not only her easy-to-follow steps but her art of giving expressions while dancing became the most sought-after thing about her show. Nachle Ve with Saroj Khan became the prime time for many young and budding dancers and a way to connect with one of their role models distantly. “Saroj Khan se seekha hai maine yeh,” was how dance lovers would flaunt off their steps as it gave them a kind of recognition.
The dancing maestro, who breathed her last in Bandra, Mumbai yesterday, after suffering a cardiac arrest, has been a three-time National Award Winner. From Rekha to Madhuri Dixit Nene to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to Kangana Ranaut, Masterji has choreographed various generations of actors. Perhaps, this is why social media has been flooded with condolences and heartfelt posts about her.
Actor Madhuri Dixit, whom Khan has worked with and choreographed for a number of Hindi film songs, posted a few old pictures of both of them dancing and wrote, “I am devastated and at an utter loss of words today! Saroj ji was part of my journey since the beginning. She taught me a lot, not just about dance but so much more. There’s a rush of memories in my head thinking of this big personal loss. My heartfelt condolences to the family.”
Actor Preeti Zinta posted on her Instagram. “So sad to hear that Saroj Ji is no more. Masterji taught me everything — how to lip sync a song, dance gracefully and how to be a Hindi film heroine. Her priceless expressions and her quest for perfection was a masterclass for me when I started my career. #RIPMasterji.”
Actor Kareena Kapoor Khan, whom Khan choreographed for the song, Yeh Ishq Haaye from Jab We Met (2008), and also won her third National Award for the same, posted a few shots from the song’s location and wrote, “Masterji always told me… perr nahin chala sakti toh kam se kam face toh chala. That’s what she taught me… to enjoy dancing, smile and smile through the eyes. There can never be another… Dance and expression can never be the same for us actors and for everyone who loved her. Love you masterji. Till we dance again, RIP.”
Actor Amitabh Bachchan also took to Instagram, sharing a black and white photograph of Khan hugging the thespian, and wrote, “Saroj ji, you gave us and the industry, rhythm, style, grace of movement and the art of converting the lyrics in a song to a meaning in dance. On a chance meeting many many years ago, she paid me my best compliment. She was living in Dubai then from marriage and when DON was released, she said, ‘I saw the film and then later, I would go to the theatre where it was released and at the time when your song Khaike Paan was on, see it and come out. I used to do it regularly. I would tell the usher to let me in just to see the song and leave, that is how much I enjoyed your dance moves!’ (This) coming from her was ultimate. A legacy has passed away.”
Eight eternal steps
Hawa Hawai (Mr India, 1987)
The first has to be Hawa Hawai. The song went on to become one of the biggest chartbusters of the 1980s. Khan’s spirited choreography and Sridevi’s comic execution of it and her lively body language made it a hit, giving the late actress the moniker of the ‘Hawa Hawai’ girl.
Kaate Nahi Kat Te (Mr India, 1987)
The next would be Kaate Nahi Kat Te. Till date, the song has been regarded as one of the most sensuous numbers in Bollywood. And Khan’s gamut of expressions executed by Sridevi through eyes and body gave the track the right vibe.
Tamma Tamma Loge (Thanedaar, 1990)
The next up is the peppy number Tamma Tamma Loge, starring Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt. The song made Khan, who is widely acclaimed for her Indian dances, step out of her comfort zone to give the song a break-dance touch and try something Western. The dance has also been recreated in Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt-starrer Badrinath Ki Dulhania.
Choli Ke Peeche (Khalnayak, 1994)
Starring Madhuri Dixit Nene, the dance had to make it in the list. Madhuri’s iconic song and step has been imitated by many budding artistes.
Chane Ke Khet Mein (Anjaam, 1994)
Another Madhuri-featurer, the dance went on to be a popular number because of its naughty, suggestive steps meant to compliment the lyrics. Khan infused the number with energy and mischievous spunk through the steps, duly brought alive by the actress.
Nimbooda (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, 1999)
This is another dazzling example of traditional folk imbibed to create a popular dance number. Filmed on Aishwarya Rai, the mood suitably alternates between the mischievous and the innocent all thanks to Khan.
Radha Kaise Na Jale (Lagaan, 2001)
In the dance, Khan has used her dance moves to bring out the rustic and evocative melody of its music, creating a visual masterpiece.
Dola Re Dola (Devdas, 2002)
Starring two legendary actresses Madhuri and Aishwarya, the dance became one of the most talked-about parts of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. The choreography also fetched Khan her first National Award. The song and the iconic Dola re Dola step is till date remembered by budding dancers.
Saturday, 04 July 2020 | Team Viva
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