Mumbai: Renowned choreographer Saroj Khan died of cardiac arrest early Friday morning. Saroj Khan is the name behind some of the most famous songs in the Hindi film industry. Among some of her most memorable choreographed songs are ‘Dhak Dhak’ and ‘Ek Do Teen’. The veteran choreographer was 71.
The three-time National Award winner was not keeping well for some time. Saroj was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital in Bandra last Saturday after she complained of breathing issues. She had tested negative for COVID-19. “She passed away due to cardiac arrest at around 2.30am at the hospital,” Saroj’s nephew Manish Jagwani informed.
Saroj is survived by son Raju Khan and daughter Sukaina Khan. Her funeral was held on Friday morning at a cemetery in suburban Malad. “We buried her at around 7 am. The prayer meeting will be held after three days,” Sukaina said.
Mourning her death, superstar Akshay Kumar said Saroj made dance look easy and accessible. “Woke up to the sad news that legendary choreographer #SarojKhan ji is no more. She made dance look easy, almost like anybody can dance, a huge loss for the industry. May her soul rest in peace,” Akshay tweeted.
Director Kunal Kohli, who worked with the choreographer on Fanaa, remembered Khan as someone who stood up for people’s rights. “She stood up for the rights of people. Never bothered who was a star or not. She said her bit unadulterated and from the heart. Brought biryani on every song and fed the whole crew so lovingly. We gossiped, we worked. Thank you for the memories masterji. Saroj Khan love you always,” he tweeted.
In a career spanning over four decades, Saroj, who was known as ‘Masterji’, choreographed more than 2,000 songs. Her best work was with actors Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit, the prominent dancing stars of the 1980s and 1990s.
Saroj’s parents migrated to India after the Partition. She started her career in the film industry as a child artiste at the age of three. Later she started working as a background dancer.
The choreographer was born as Nirmala later converted to Islam. Saroj learnt dance while working under film choreographer B Sohanlal. They got married when she was 13 and he was 41. It was Sohanlal’s second marriage.
Saroj got her first break as an independent choreographer with Geeta Mera Naam in 1974. However, it was Sridevi’s ‘Hawa Hawai’ song in 1987 film Mr India which brought acclaim for Saroj as a dance choreographer of repute. There was no looking back for Saroj after the success of the song. She choreographed Sridevi in films such as Nagina and Chandni.
However, it was her work with Madhuri that made her famous. Starting with ‘Ek Do Teen’ in Tezaab, she choreographed Madhuri in ‘Tamma Tamma Loge’ in Thanedar. It was followed by ‘Dhak Dhak Karne Laga’ in Beta and ‘Dola Re Dola’ from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. She also choreographed Kareena Kapoor in ‘Ye Ishq Haaye’.
Saroj last choreographed for ‘Tabaah Hogaye’, featuring Madhuri from filmmaker Karan Johar’s production Kalank in 2019.
Saroj’s death comes at a time when the film industry is already grappling with the loss of Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, Basu Chatterjee and Sushant Singh Rajput in recent months.