Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan's demise is a huge blow to the Hindi film industry. She passed away due to cardiac arrest today (July, 2020).
Starting her career as a background dancer behind actresses like Madhubala and Vyjayanthimala, Saroj Khan worked as an assistant to the choreographer B.Sohanlal (whom she married at the age of 13), and eventually, ended up as one of the top choreographers in Bollywood. Fondly known as 'Master Ji', Saroj Khan worked with some of the biggest names in the film industry like Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Shah Rukh Khan. She was a three-time National Award recipient.
Let's take a look at some of the most iconic Bollywood songs choreographed by her.
Ek Do Teen (Tezaab)
Sharing a trivia about this iconic dance number from Tezaab, Madhuri had said in an interview, "I remember having rehearsed for it for 16 days with Sarojji (Saroj Khan, the choreographer). The shoot went on for almost seven days. On the last day, we shot for the entire day and night. It was quite draining. And guess what...I wasn't even in India to experience the frenzy when the song actually became a hit. I was in the United States for my sister's wedding. My manager Rikkuji (Rakesh Nath) told me how the song had become a rage. When I came back from the States, two kids came up to me at the airport and asked me whether I was Mohini. They took my autograph. It was a very special moment for me. The Ek Do Teen song turned the tables for me."
Saroj Khan's graceful dance moves coupled with Madhuri Dixit's charm makes this song a rage even today.
Baazigar O Baazigar (Baazigar)
Not many people know that it was Saroj Khan who gave Shah Rukh his iconic arms open pose. Speaking about it, the late choreographer had mentioned in an interview, "We were shooting Baazigar in Mauritius. He (SRK) takes name of land and sky, there's a back shot and he opens his arms. Then he turns and reveals name on his chest by opening his shirt. I gave him this action there."
Hawa Hawai (Mr India)
In Sridevi's biography, 'Queen Of Hearts', author Lalita Iyer mentions, "During the Mr India shoot, there was no rehearsal hall, and in the manner of someone who always does her homework, Sridevi said to Saroj Khan, "I am willing to dance in the corridor." And that's where Hawa Hawai was rehearsed." Saroj Khan brought the goofy side of Sridevi like no one else in this song.
Dola Re Dola (Devdas)
The late choreographer had revealed this dance song as the toughest one in her fillmography, as she had to choreograph two big heroines in the same song. Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai brought Saroj Khan's mesmerizing dance steps to life on the big screen, and 'Dola Re Dola' ended up as one of the highlights of Devdas. Later, Saroj Khan had told Sanjay Leela Bhansali that it was a feather on her cap.
Choli Ke Peeche (Khal Nayak)
While the song had its fair share of controversies when it released, it is still considered to be one of Madhuri Dixit-Saroj Khan's best songs. Madhuri recalled in an interview, "There were a lot of dance rehearsals done for the song. It was a mix of folk and semi-classical dance forms. The song was earlier stuck in controversies because of its lyrics. But, when the film released and people saw the song, they loved it so much, that they still dance on it today."
Dhak Dhak (Beta)
Madhuri Dixit clad in an orange saree, grooved to Saroj Khan's jhatkas and matkas, and went on to become the 'Dhak Dhak' girl.
Not many people know that this song was almost out of the film, because Madhuri didn't have any spare dates to shoot for it. However, Saroj Khan along with choreographer Baba Azmi managed to wrap half of the five-minute track in three days and the remaining two-and-a-half minutes through one night.
Tamma Tamma (Thanedaar)
Spilling details about how the song was shot, Saroj Khan had revealed in an interview, "We started shooting at 10 am for the song and the shot got ready at 10 pm The song had a piece with chair as a prop, where Madhuri (Dixit) encouraged Sanjay Dutt dance to his capacity because the piece wouldn't have been fun had they not danced together. The first shot got okayed in the 28th take, but the cap rolled down from her foot, where it was supposed to stay. By then, both Madhuri and Sanjay's knees were bruised and bleeding. But they weren't ready to listen. They said, ' no masterji we will do it.' We decided to give it another shot, which finally got okayed in the 48th take, after the cap decided to stick in its desired place."
Ramta Jogi (Taal)
Saroj Khan gave Aishwarya Rai Bachchan some sensuous dance steps, and the audience couldn't take their eyes off the former beauty queen, who swayed like a dream on the big screen.
Nimbooda (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)
In a throwback interview, Saroj Khan had revealed that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had bruised her feet and knees while filming 'Nimbooda' song, but the actress never complained. Well, we must say, all the hard work and dedication had paid off, as the song is a favourite with the audience even today.
Maar Dala (Devdas)
"The Madhuri Dixit number in the song 'Maar Dala' in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas had the refrain 'maar dala' four times in a stanza. I convinced and taught Madhuri to execute each refrain differently for each of the four times. This spread over to three or four stanzas, and each time, she expressed this refrained differently, " Saroj Khan was quoted as saying in Shoma A Chatterji's book 'Filming Reality: The Independent Documentary Movement in India'. The choreography for this Kathak-infused dance number got Saroj Khan a National Award.