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Saroj Khan dead at 71: Celebrities mourn the demise of choreographer

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.

Mumbai-based filmmaker Nidhi Tuli had spoken to 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.”

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.”

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