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The Dancing Queen, Saroj Khan, Takes Her Last Bow

Saroj Khan, one of the most celebrated and prominent choreographers of India, has passed away at the age of 71.

Saroj Khan was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital in Mumbai on 17th June, when she complained of breathlessness. However, she tested negative for Covid-19.

She passed away on Friday around 2:30 AM due to cardiac arrest as confirmed by her nephew Manish Jagwani. Her funeral was held on Friday morning in Mumbai and she is survived by her daughter and son, Sukaina and Raju Khan.

Khan began her career in Bollywood as a child star when she became a back-up dancer in the 1950s. She then began working as an assistant choreographer until 1974 when she got her big break in Geeta Mera Naam. By the 1980s, Saroj Khan had become a recognizable name in Bollywood as she started working with iconic stars like Madhuri and Sridevi.

She became a dance director to be reckoned with when she choreographed Sridevi in the 1987 blockbuster hit Mr. India’s “Hawa Hawai”. She won her first Filmfare Award for choreography in 1989 for “Ek Do Teen”. Fondly called “Master Ji” in the industry, she worked in over 2000 songs during her career.

However, in 2019, the legendary choreographer admitted that work had dried up. In an interview with Mid-Day, she said Salman Khan promised to work with her in a future project when he heard of her plight. She said, “When we met, Salman asked me what I was doing nowadays. So I told him honestly that I don’t have any work, and that I am teaching Indian classical dance to young actresses. Upon hearing that, he said, ‘Now, you will work with me’. I know he is a man of his word, so he will keep his promise”.

Saroj Khan’s last on-screen work in Bollywood was the song “Tabah Hogaye” for Abhishek Varman’s 2019 film Kalank. She teamed up with her “favorite student” for the song, Madhuri Dixit.

Bollywood paid tribute to the dancing queen as news of her death broke out, with celebrities like Akshay Kuman and Kunal Kohli thanking her for her amazing work over the years.

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You rest .. you rest well .. you rise .. you realise the hours .. you seek the elixir .. you devour .. you get to connect .. … and .. .. you be informed in this communicative world .. Saroj Khan has died .. .. and an entire history of time races before you in the cerebrum .. 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 .. of the film ‘Bandhe Haath’ with the heart throb of millions Mumtaz .. with the director OP Ralhan .. Mumtaz’s grace and acceptance to agree to work with this newbe .. she a stratospheric Star , me a nobody .. .. and Saroj ji in the crowd of dancers in a song .. her subtle grace when she moved .. at one point I saw her , quite alarmingly , finding the foetus had shifted in her stomach and she simply unabashedly pushed it into place , and carried on .. dancing .. .. and then over the years .. she excelled and attained the podium title of Dance Director .. or as the language changed , the Choreographer of film .. her moves becoming famous for each artist she worked with .. and when she would see an artist give a good shot under her care .. she would call her or him aside .. and .. .. give a rupee coin .. as a gesture .. as a pat on the back .. a ‘shagun’ .. .. many many years later .. during the song sequence of a film I was doing .. I became the recipient of that coin .. an immense achievement .. Saroj ji .. you gave us and the industry , rhythm, style, grace of movement and the art of converting the lyrics in a song to a meaning in dance .. .. on a chance meeting many many years ago she paid me my best compliment .. she was living in Dubai then from marriage and when DON was released she said “ I saw the film and then after, I would go to the theatre where it was released, at the time when your song ‘khaike paan.. was on , see it and come out .. I used to do it regularly every day .. I would tell the usher to let me in just to see the song and leave .. that is how much I enjoyed your dance moves ..” !! coming from her was the ultimate .. .. a legacy has passed away .. 🙏

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