Veteran Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan dies aged 71

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Veteran Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan, a three-time National Award winner, died early Friday morning due to cardiac arrest.
Veteran Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan, a three-time National Award winner, died early Friday morning due to cardiac arrest.

MUMBAI — Veteran Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan, a three-time National Award winner, died early Friday morning due to cardiac arrest. She was admitted to Mumbai's Guru Nanak Hospital on June 20 after complaining of difficulty in breathing. She was 71.

The three-time National Award winner was hospitalized last Saturday after she complained of breathlessness. She tested negative for COVID-19, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said, and died early on Friday.

She is survived by her second husband Sardar Roshan Khan and three children. Saroj’s funeral was held on Friday morning at a cemetery in suburban Malad. “We buried her at around 7 a.m. The prayer meeting will be held after three days,” her daughter Sukaina told PTI.

She had choreographed some of the most memorable songs in Hindi cinema and was credited for choreographing more than 2,000 songs. Her list of credits include iconic numbers such as Dhak Dhak Karne Laga from Beta (1992), Ek Do Teen from Tezaab (1988), Hawa Hawai from Mr. India (1987) and many more.

In Saroj Khan’s passing away, Hindi film industry has lost one of its most beloved and respected dance exponents. It would not be wrong to say that the magic of Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi would be incomplete without her, wrote Hindustan Times in its obit.

Bollywood paid tribute to an icon of its industry. Actor Akshay Kumar said Saroj made dance look easy, almost like anybody can do it. “A huge loss for the industry,” Akshay tweeted.

Two veterans of the industry too remembered Saroj Khan. Actor Amitabh Bachchan tweeted that he is disturbed by the news. “Prayers. The hands are folded and the mind is disturbed.”

Amitabh wrote, “She was a sprightly young enthusiastic dance assistant to one of the major dance directors of the time .. of the time when I was just beginning,”

While Dharmendra tweeted: “Tere aane se ronaq aa jaati thi .....Saroj...... affsos .....tum bhi chali gaien.....skoon naseeb ho rooh ko teri..... Friends, she was an assistant dance director in my first film Dil bhi tera.....a jolly good friend.”

Madhuri Dixit said she is ‘devastated by the loss’. She tweeted, “I’m devastated by the loss of my friend and guru, Saroj Khan. Will always be grateful for her work in helping me reach my full potential in dance. The world has lost an amazingly talented person. I will miss you. My sincere condolences to the family.”

Actress Kajol shared an Instagram post dedicated to Saroj Khan. “RIP to the most talented coolest choreographer ever! She taught me sooooo much that I always used everywhere in so many other ways. When she danced it was like watching a whole book ! Everything that she wanted to say was there so clearly on her face and in her body language . Even later when she grew older whenever we met I could see that mischief and affection and sheer love for her work. Love u Sarojji and be at peace knowing that u are loved and will always be remembered.”

And Kareena Kapoor wrote, “Master ji always told me... perrr nahin chala saktiii toh kam se kam face toh chalaaaaa. 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 master ji. Till we dance again... RIP #SarojKhan”

In the 1950s, Saroj began working as a background dancer and got her first break as an independent choreographer with Geeta Mera Naam in 1974. The choreographer has also judged dance reality shows like Nach Baliye, Ustaadon Ka Ustaad, Boogie Woogie and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. Her last work was the song “Tabaah Ho Gaye” from Kalank (2019), which was filmed on Madhuri Dixit. — Agencies.


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