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Saroj Khan dead at 71: Celebrities continue to shower love on the legendary choreographer

Saroj Khan dead at 71: From Saif Ali Khan to Govinda, celebrities took to social media to pay their last respects to Bollywood's legendary choreographer.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar , A. Kameshwari , Arushi Jain | New Delhi | Updated: July 5, 2020 10:58:11 am
saroj khan Legendary choreographer Saroj Khan died in Mumbai on Friday. (Express archive photo)

Saroj Khan, the National Award winning choreographer, passed away in Mumbai on Friday. Saroj’s daughter Sukaina Khan confirmed the news to indianexpress.com.

In a career spanning forty years, she choreographed nearly 2000 songs. Her most successful collaborations were with actors Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit.

Born as Nirmala Nagpal, Saroj Khan began her career by playing the young Shyama onscreen in Nazarana. She soon became a background dancer under the mentorship of dance director B. Sohanlal. After assisting as a dance choreographer for a few years, her first independent work came in Geeta Mera Naam (1974). Saroj got noticed after she choreographed for Sridevi in Mr. India’s song “Hawa Hawai” (1987). She worked with Sridevi in films like Nagina and Chandni. This was followed by her long-term partnership with Madhuri Dixit in the 1990s in songs like “Ek Do Teen”, “Hum Ko Aaj Kal Hai Intezaar”, “Dhak Dhak Karne Laga”, “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai”, and “Tamma Tamma”.

Saroj’s other popular films include Baazigar, Mohra, Darr, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Taal, Veer-Zaara, Pardes, Soldier, Don, Saawariya, Lagaan, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Manikarnika among more. She has won awards for Devdas, Jab We Met, Guru, Khalnayak, Chaalbaaz and others. 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.

Live Blog

Celebrities pay tribute to Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan.

10:58 (IST)05 Jul 2020
'Every conversation with her was full of knowledge'

Actor Madhuri Dixit on Saturday shared a video on her social media accounts. She dedicated it to late Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Every conversation with her was full of knowledge, inspiration and energy. That's how she lived life and that is how I will always remember her ♥️

A post shared by Madhuri Dixit (@madhuridixitnene) on

10:29 (IST)05 Jul 2020
'Ananya Panday, Sara Ali Khan, Saiee Manjrekar were training under her'

Saroj Khan's daughter Sukaina in an interview with ETimes shared how the late choreographer was still getting offers to work. She said, "She was getting offers to work, but at the same time, because of her age and health she wanted to take a back seat. But still she was doing a couple of jobs. She had actresses learning with her, including Alizeh Agnihotri, Ananya Panday, Sara Ali Khan, Saiee Manjrekar – all these girls were training under her. So she considered herself very lucky and connected to Bollywood equally,"

She also shared that many Bollywood actors were in her contact and kept checking up on her. "Everybody was in touch. Madhuri ma’am, Subhash ji, Jackie ji, Govinda sir, everybody kept calling her up and called me too. They would ask me about her health and how she was doing. When they heard the news, they were all shell shocked like we were. We didn’t expect something like this coming our way," Sukaina said.

09:42 (IST)05 Jul 2020
Govinda pays tribute to Saroj Khan
 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#Rip Saroj Khan ji 🙏🏻💔 Masterji Love you always !!

A post shared by Govinda (@govinda_herono1) on

09:06 (IST)05 Jul 2020
'She taught me to work hard'

Saif Ali Khan remembered Saroj Khan as someone who taught him to work hard. Sharing his experience of working with her on the chartbuster "Ole Ole", Saif said, "She made me rehearse for a week for a song I was to do with her and when I got to the set she made me perform it in one go in front of the unit. When I finished panting, she said, 'ok, now forget all that, now that you’re easy with the song, let’s try something better!' That song was 'ole ole' in Yeh Dillagi and she took a hit song to another level. I must have performed this song a few hundred times on stage on international tours, often three times in a row to “encores"! I will always owe her (and Jojo and Ahmed khan who at the time were her young assistants) for this song and making me into a dancing star - an incredible feat as I have two left feet." 

08:41 (IST)05 Jul 2020
Anubhav Sinha regrets not meeting Saroj Khan

Anubhav Sinha shared a photo with late choreographer Saroj Khan and wrote on Twitter, "I knew she was in the hospital and I didn’t go see her once. I feel so terrible about this. Just keeping track of her health made me feel I cared. May be not enough... Sorry Master Ji. #SarojKhan" 

16:20 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Sunny Leone shares her brief encounter with Saroj Khan

Sunny Leone shared her "brief encounter" with Saroj Khan. In a post, she mentioned, "My very brief encounter by a beautiful patient guru who was trying to teach some basics of Indian folk dancing. Even though our encounter was short I always go back to these videos to learn from her over and over. God Bless your soul and may you rest in peace. My heart goes out to the family, close friends and to all those out there who have lost this beautiful person from your life. RIP Mam!"

15:55 (IST)04 Jul 2020
'You will live in our hearts forever'

Mouni Roy shared an adorable picture on Instagram with a caption, "Lucky were the ones who got to learn adayaki ; a few steps from you, a beautiful teacher, creator, human, You ll live in our hearts forever. You’ll be missed forever.."

15:16 (IST)04 Jul 2020
'No one will ever forget you'

Kriti Kharbanda recalled how Saroj Khan was an inspiration for her. In a post, she mentioned, "I never got the opportunity to work with you. It is every newbie's dream and it was mine too. However, it was not in my fate. But I know, no one will ever forget you." She continued, "If not here then somewhwere else. Rest in peace, Master Ji."

14:46 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Bosco Martis remembers Saroj Khan

"If you don’t get a Bakshish from her as a performer/ choreographer then you have not made it ❤️❤️❤️ And when she post it , it sealed that you are worth her praise . Love you masterji . Will miss the count 5-6-7-8," choreographer-filmmaker Bosco Martis shared on Instagram.

14:08 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Terence Lewis pays tribute to Saroj Khan
 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

An ode to a legend, an institution by itself... An era passes away 💔 #SarojKhanji #RIPSarojKhan #Respect

A post shared by Terence Lewis (@terence_here) on

Terence Lewis paid tribute to legendary choreographer Saroj Khan, who passed away on Friday. The choreographer referred to her as "an iron lady who was not afraid to call a spade a spade!"

13:30 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Kubbra Sait on Saroj Khan
 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The end of an era. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’un #SarojKhan 1948-2020. 🌈

A post shared by Kubbra Sait (@kubbrasait) on

12:36 (IST)04 Jul 2020
'Many of my teenage dreams came true when she choreographed me in Agneepath'

 
Priyanka Chopra said her teenage dreams came true when Saroj Khan choreographed her in Agneepath.
 
"Many of my teenage dreams came true when she choreographed me in Agneepath. Taskmaster, perfectionist, innovator, trendsetter, genius… Saroj ji was many things to many people. To me, she’ll always be an institution that defined an era of dancing with abandon, emotion & passion. Gun Gun Guna Re… May the heavens dance to your tune Masterji… RIPSarojKhan," she tweeted.
 

12:00 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Hina Khan: Cannot forget how much you adored me

Hina Khan took to Instagram and shared her fond memories with Saroj Khan. "You will be missed Saroj ma'am. Rest in peace. We met in so many award functions, clicked so many selfies, cannot forget how much you adored me and complemented me. I shall cherish those memories forever," the actor wrote.

11:33 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Varun Dhawan: We were blessed to have you

11:00 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Alia Bhatt: Saroj ji was magic

Remembering Saroj Khan, Alia Bhatt wrote an emotional post that read, "Saroj ji was magic. She created magic. I will never forget our interaction on the sets of Kalank. "You dance very well," she said to me, "but come spend time with me and I will teach you how to dance with your eyes." Thank you Saroj ji for giving so much to the world of dance, movies and memories that we, your fans, will cherish forever."

10:33 (IST)04 Jul 2020
'Always so vibrant, smiling and jovial'

Divya Khosla Kumar tweeted, "The always so vibrant, smiling, jovial and an inspiration to us all..Our Pride #SarojKhan Mam ..Will miss you."

09:52 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Divyanka Tripathi: Was lucky to have learnt a few pieces under you

Sharing a video on Instagram, Divyanka Tripathi wrote, "Saroj ji, It's painful to say goodbye. I was lucky to have learnt a few pieces under you. An honor too became way bigger for me when Saroj Khan ji was the presenter! Always told you, yet reiterating- I am your big fan and the status remains so forever!"

08:47 (IST)04 Jul 2020
Arshad Warsi remembers Saroj Khan

In a tweet, Arshad Warsi remembered Saroj Khan. He wrote, "During a song sequence in Goal, I wasn’t suppose to dance because my leg is broken in the scene. Sarojji said “ek achcha dancer tha uski bhi tang todh di, koi baath nahi, ye ek tang pe bhi bakiyon se achcha nachega” .... I am really going to miss her.."

22:34 (IST)03 Jul 2020
"Her contribution to Hindi films has been enormous"

Filmmaker Nandita Das tweeted, "Such sad news. Her contribution to Hindi films has been enormous. I had the pleasure of working with Sarojji just once, for a Spanish film. She showered me with so much love that I can never forget her warmth and grace. And what a teacher she was! Folded handsFolded hands #SarojKhan."

Madhuri Dixit had spoken about her highly successful collaboration with Saroj Khan and how the later taught her Bollywood dancing. Madhuri told PTI, "Saroj Khan ji (choreographer) knows my problem very well. My problem was that I was a classical dancer..I am trained in Kathak and I did not know Bollywood dancing. When we were doing Uttar Dakshin, Saroj ji told me to learn Bollywood dance. She had told me when we do Tezaab I will have to do a lot of rehearsals. I have learnt Bollywood dancing from her," Madhuri Dixit said.

PHOTOS | Saroj Khan (1948-2020): A pictorial tribute to the legendary choreographer

Mumbai-based filmmaker Nidhi Tuli had spoken to indianexpress.com about her PSBT and Film Division of India-funded documentary on Saroj Khan, titled The Saroj Khan Story. Tuli said, "I was watching Nach Baliye in which Saroj ji mentioned that she had been a background dancer in the 1958 Bimal Roy film Madhumati. It struck me what a long journey she has made. She is the only major dancer to have been present through the last 50 years in Bollywood. She is a living library." Tuli added, "She came from a business family, where they looked down on films. When her parents decided to let her join the industry, they changed her name from Nirmala to Saroj so that the relatives wouldn't find out."

Saroj Khan shared how she reacted when she got to know that a documentary on her was in the works. "I was the first female choreographer in Bollywood. I have won three National Awards, something no other Master has done. And now a film has been made … what can I say?" Saroj further said, "I have been learning from life, never depend on anybody. Whatever you can do, only you can do. Nobody's there to help you. And since I have taken this lesson, I feel nice and relieved."

Also read: Hindi cinema has lost its adaa: Kunal Kohli remembers Saroj Khan

Saroj Khan had expressed her unhappiness when her iconic song "Tamma Tamma" was recreated for Badrinath Ki Dulhania in 2017. While the original was picturised on Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt, the new version had Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan. Saroj said, "Maybe they felt since my assistant Madhuri Dixit was there, they didn’t need me around. You have to ask them why I wasn’t invited. I don’t mind not being invited….The new version of any of my dance numbers have to be of some standard for them to invite me to watch it." She added, "Varun is a good dancer and I know he will be able to do it [the steps] well, but I don’t know if Alia will be able to match up to Madhuri. In any case, it will be a feather in Alia’s cap."