Ace choreographer Saroj Khan breathed her last at Guru Nanak Hospital at Bandra in Bombay this morning (July 3). She had been admitted there a fortnight back for breathing complications. The end came in the ICU around 1.50 a.m. She was 71 years old and had been suffering from heavy diabetes and related illnesses. A few days back, a family member had confirmed that she did not have coronavirus. She is survived by her husband, B. Sohanlal, whom she had divorced many years ago, a son and two daughters. She later married businessman Sardar Roshan Khan.
Born Nirmala, Saroj worked as a child actor and group dancer in films to supplement the family income as she came from an extremely poor family. She dared to become a dance director although the profession then was male-dominated. She was so good at her work and so hard-working that she rose to great heights. Subhash Ghai supported her a great deal, something she herself acknowledged in interviews. It was after her choreography in Ghai’s Hero that she became a hero among choreographers, filmmakers and stars alike. Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit owed a great deal of their success to Saroj Khan.
Saroj Khan had choreographed more than 2,000 song-dances in a career spanning over four decades. Among her unforgettable songs are Ek do teen from Tezaab, Dhak dhak karne lagaa from Beta, Hawa Hawai and Kaate nahin kat-te from Mr. India, O Ramji bada dukh deena from Ram Lakhan, Choli ke peechhe kya hai from Khal-nayak, Dola re dola from Devdas, songs from Taal, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Sailaab (Humko aaj kal hai intezaar), Chandni (Mere haathon mein nau-nau chudiyaan and Chandni o meri Chandni), Nagina (Main teri dushman dushman tu mera) etc. She had also directed some song-dances in South films like Iruvar (Tamil). Saroj Khan, who started out as a background dancer at the age of three, got her break as an independent dance director with Jagdish Naheta’s Mrig Trishna (1972) in which she picturised a dance on Hema Malini on the song, Nav kalpana, music of which was scored by Shambhu Sen. Since that film was released in 1975, the first released film of Saroj Khan as independent choreographer was Geeta Mera Naam in 1974. She had an unmistakable stamp about her choreography which made her dances extremely popular with the masses and classes alike. She had won the National Award for best choreography thrice. The last song she had choreographed was Tabaah ho gaye from Kalank, picturised on Madhuri Dixit who was one of her favourite actresses. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Saroj Khan’s dances were often the reason for a film’s tremendous repeat value.
The body of the veteran dance director was taken for burial to the Ahle Sunnat cemetery at Malad in Bombay.