Saroj Khan, an iconic Bollywood choreographer whose dance proteges include actresses Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi, died of a cardiac arrest on Friday, after being admitted to a Mumbai hospital in June with breathing difficulties. She was 71.
Born Nirmala Nagpal, Khan debuted as an assistant choreographer in 1960 with “Kalpana,” and honed her craft on several films before making her debut as a choreographer with 1974’s “Geeta Mera Naam.” It was in the 1980s and 1990s that she became a household name across India for her collaborations with Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi.
Her memorable associations with Dixit include “Tezaab,” “Beta” and “Khalnaayak,” while with Sridevi her best work includes Shekhar Kapur’s “Mr. India,” “Nagina” and “Chandni.” One of Khan’s most famous works was “Devdas,” which premiered in Cannes in 2002, and where she worked with Dixit and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan.
Khan amassed more than 300 film credits, having choreographed more than 2,000 songs. She won India’s National Film Award for choreography three times: for “Devdas,” “Sringaram,” and “Jab We Met.” She also won the American Choreography Award twice, for her work in “Hum Dil Che Chuke Sanam,” and the Oscar-nominated “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India.” Her last film credit was 2019’s “Kalank,” where she reunited with Dixit.
In later life, Khan was a judge on Star TV reality show “Nach Baliye,” and Sony Entertainment Television’s “Ustaadon Ka Ustad,” and “Jhalak Dikhlaa Ja.”
She is survived by her husband, the veteran choreographer B. Sohanlal, with whom she made her debut as an assistant, son Hamid and daughters Hina and Sukyna.
She defined a generation of heroines. Certainly #MrIndia would not have been same film without #SarojKhan. You had to see her dance as she rehearsed with SriDevi. She was messmerizing.
And what energy! You could shoot all night, yet she smiled and danced constantly fresh. 🙏🏽🙏🏽
— Shekhar Kapur (@shekharkapur) July 3, 2020
I'm devastated by the loss of my friend and guru, Saroj Khan. Will always be grateful for her work in helping me reach my full potential in dance. The world has lost an amazingly talented person. I will miss you💔 My sincere condolences to the family. #RIPSarojji
— Madhuri Dixit Nene (@MadhuriDixit) July 3, 2020
Woke up to the sad news that legendary choreographer #SarojKhan ji is no more. She made dance look easy almost like anybody can dance, a huge loss for the industry. May her soul rest in peace 🙏🏻
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) July 3, 2020
Rest in peace Sarojji.. u were an inspiration to many, myself included. Thank you for the songs🙏🏻 #SarojKhan
— Farah Khan (@TheFarahKhan) July 3, 2020