Shatranj ke Khiladi to Bajirao Mastani: What Birju Maharaj said about directing ‘favourite’ Madhuri Dixit, Kamal Haasan


Kathak anecdote Pandit Birju Maharaj died at his residence in Delhi on Sunday on the age of 83. A recipient of the nation’s 2d-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, the Kathak exponent was an equally prolific singer, poet and painter. While his work within the Indian movie industry was comparatively restricted, he left his sure mark every time he choreographed actors. By Maharaj’s enjoy admission, his popular remained Madhuri Dixit with whom he worked in Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Devdas and Dedh Ishqiya. He also directed Kamal Haasan in Vishwaroopam and Deepika Padukone in Bajirao Mastani. His first collaboration, then again, was Satyajit Ray’s cult traditional Shatranj Ke Khiladi.

Haasan wrote a tribute to the dancer and wrote, “Pandit Birju Maharaj was an unparalleled dancer and he has handed away. I learned quite a bit from him as his student by staring at him from a distance luxuriate in Ekalavya and also by working with him carefully exact by Vishwaroopam. He devoted his total lifestyles to tune and dance.”

Pandit Birju Maharaj started teaching Kathak on the age of 13 in Delhi. An institution in himself, he gave the Lucknow gharana, the noteworthy wanted push to purchase it relevant among the younger expertise. So noteworthy, that his name become synonymous with Kathak for practically three decades at some level of the enviornment. Largely keeping it to performing arts and teaching the dance invent, his Midas contact in Bollywood is uncommon and precious.

The Kathak maestro choreographed items luxuriate in “Makhan Chori” and “Phaag Bahar” in his early days. His first brush with Indian cinema happened with Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) in which he choreographed, serene tune and even sang for 2 dance sequences. One was a performance where Wajid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan) is considered dancing alongside with his queens. The totally different one was a solo dance forming the backdrop of a in point of fact foremost sequence of the tale.

Madhuri had claimed that the dance guru had a lasting affect on her thoughts when she first seen him invent on stage on the age of 5. But when she lastly got to met him years later exact by a workshop within the US, their first conversation wasn’t about Kathak.

“I was wanting forward to a straight dance follow but was surprised when the first thing he asked me was to narrate him the ‘ Ek, Maintain, Teen’ cross. He puzzled how I attain it. My appreciate for him soared when I stumbled on that he was attracted to all dance kinds,” Madhuri revealed to TOI last year.

Maharaj also worked with Deepika Padukone in Bajirao Mastani. He had stated that he watched Gratified Unusual one year in 2014, consequently of he desired to bag mindful of Deepika Padukone’s body motion. “Deepika does suitable acting but she must attain extra classical dance so that she will be able to crimson meat up her dancing expertise,” the Kathak exponent had stated, support within the day.

Deepika had a chilly toes too consequently of “she was no longer Madhuri Dixit.” Birju Maharaj in the end made Deepika invent a thumri on “Mohe Rang Maintain Laal” where her Mastani expresses her luxuriate in to Bajirao (Ranveer Singh). The tune got Maharaj a Supreme Choreographer trophy at Filmfare too.

Pandit Birju Maharaj with Madhuri Dixit. (Picture: Snarl Archives)

In Maharaj’s maiden collaboration with Madhuri, he made her invent a jugalbandi (fusion) on the drum beats. This was the sequence in Dil Toh Pagal Hai (1997) where her Pooja does Kathak fused with up to the moment moves, with Shah Rukh Khan’s Rahul beating the drums within the backdrop. This was also a in point of fact foremost introduction of her character within the blockbuster movie.

“Maharaj ji interpreted the general drum beats as tons of expressions of a peacock dancing with abandon. He has made dancing into a invent of science that brings out the high quality thing about the art invent that is dance. The grace and poise, he brings to bounce is effective,” Madhuri stated, collectively with “while you be taught a classical dance invent luxuriate in Kathak, that it is likely you’ll take dangle of up any dance invent within the enviornment.”

“Maharaj ji has an out of the ordinary sense of humour and regales us with humorous tales from his travels at some level of the enviornment,” she shared.

In 2002, he gave Madhuri Dixit, basically the most dazzling Kathak routine – “Kaahe Chhed Mohe” from Devdas. A pure classical amount, the tune was all about ‘bhaavs’ and portrayed Madhuri’s moves luxuriate in by no method sooner than — from her grace, beauty to that eyebrow motion. “Effectively there are tons of unbelievable dancers in Bollywood. My popular has been Madhuri Dixit, whom I’ve labored with in Devdas and Dedh Ishqiya. She is a expert Kathak dancer and has pure grace,” Maharaj stated, calling Madhuri the greatest dancer in Bollywood.

Recalling of following Maharaj’s footsteps actually, Madhuri told TOI, “The mudras, abhinayas, body language–I felt luxuriate in I was in heaven after we were on the sets. I mediate his art is luxuriate in the rainbow, ‘saptarangi’ but with the ‘navarasas’. It is all so though-provoking and unending; for me he personifies Kathak and he’s dance!”

The virtuoso also choreographed a neighborhood dance on “Aan Milo Sajana” in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. By the sequence, the viewers got to in point of fact feel the agony and turmoil Ameesha Patel’s character goes by.

His work also travelled down south by Vishwaroopam, for which he received his handiest National Award in 2012. The tune “Unnai Kaanadhu Naan” featured Kamal Haasan performing Kathak. “Even supposing he’s a highly talented dancer, he did lot of labor for the tune. He spent hours getting every step correct and he deserves special appreciation for that. What is extra attention-grabbing is that he’s the handiest male I indubitably private ever choreographed for,” Maharaj had told IANS.

The prolific dancer was bestowed with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1964 and the Padma Vibhushan, the 2d-highest civilian award of India in 1986. Regardless of staying filled with life on stage and keeping his dance faculty ‘Kalashram” afloat in Delhi, Bajirao Mastani (2016) was the last of his works in Bollywood.

“I am no longer elated with every tune. For me, dance is luxuriate in connecting with the almighty. I cannot choreograph one thing, which is raunchy and requires a total lot of skin sigh… I procure to steer clear of it,” he told PTI.

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