Legendary choreographer Saroj Khan aka Nirmala Nagpal and then fondly called ‘Masterji’ by her students, left for heavenly abode on July 3. She died due to a sudden cardiac arrest.
Saroj Khan was one of the most prominent and leading Indian dance choreographers in Hindi cinema. With a career span of over forty years, she choreographed more than 2000 songs and was known as “The Mother of Dance/Choreography in India.”
She was the first female choreographer of Bollywood and highly admired for her true talent of grasping the lyrics and bringing out the sensations through her choreography.
Her most recent work includes “Tabaah ho Gaye” in last year’s “Kalank”, picturised on her favourite student Madhuri Dixit.
Saroj Khan was the first recipient of the Filmfare Best Choreography Award. Filmfare instituted this award after watching the excellent choreography and audience response to Khan’s song “Ek Do Teen” from Tezaab.
Saroj Khan went on to have a hat-trick at the Filmfare awards winning consistently for 3 years from 1989 to 1991. She also held the record for winning the most Filmfare Best Choreographer Awards, winning 8.
Not only this but she was the recipient of the most National Film Awards for Best Choreography with three wins.
For those unaware, she started her career as a child artist at the age of three with the film Nazarana as child Shyama, and a background dancer in the late 1950s. She learnt to dance while working under film choreographer B. Sohanlal, she married him at the age of 13 while he was 43 years and was already married with 4 children which she did not know at the time of marriage.
Later, she herself shifted to choreography, first as an assistant choreographer and later getting her break as an independent choreographer, with Geeta Mera Naam (1974).
However, she had to wait many years to receive acclaim, which came with her work with Sridevi; Hawa Hawai in Mr India (1987), Nagina (1986) and Chandni (1989), and later with Madhuri Dixit, starting with the hit Ek Do Teen in Tezaab (1988), Tamma Tamma Loge in Thanedaar (1990) and Dhak Dhak Karne Laga in Beta (1992).
Thereafter, she went on to become one of the most successful Bollywood choreographers. And now she leaves a legacy behind with her legendary role in shaping the female dancers of India.
Masterji will surely be remembered for her ‘Adaa’ and her huge beaming smile forever. May her soul rest in peace!