Mother of dance: Bollywood actors remember choreographer Saroj Khan

The three-time National Award winner, died following a cardiac arrest early on Friday morning. She was 71

Having a career spanning over 40 years, Khan has choreographed more than 2,000 songs

Bollywood woke up to the shocking news of their beloved masterji Saroj Khan’s death on Friday (July 3), with actors Madhuri Dixit, Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor and others remembering the role played by the veteran choreographer in their life and career.

Khan, the name behind some of the most famous songs in Bollywood such as “Dhak Dhak” and “Ek Do Teen”, died following a cardiac arrest early on Friday morning. She was 71.

Madhuri, one of the frequent collaborators of Khan, said she is saddened by the loss of her “friend” and “guru”, who helped her realise her potential. “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” she tweeted.

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The duo collaborated on a number of hits songs, such as “Ek Do Teen” in “Tezaab”, “Tamma Tamma Loge” in “Thanedar”, “Dhak Dhak Karne Laga” in “Beta” and “Dola Re Dola” from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Devdas”.

Superstar Akshay Kumar termed Khans demise as a “huge loss” to the industry. “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,” he tweeted.

Khan broke into the industry with Sridevi’s Hawa Hawai song from Shekhar Kapur’s 1987 hit “Mr India” and the filmmaker also paid a tribute to the choreographer.

“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 mesmerising. And what energy! You could shoot all night, yet she smiled and danced constantly fresh,” the director said.

Kareena Kapoor Khan, whose hit track “Yeh Ishq Haaye” from “Jab We Met” was choreographed by Khan, shared a photo with the veteran on Instagram. “Masterji always told me If you cant move your feet, move your face. That’s what she taught me… to enjoy dancing, smile and smile through the eyes. There can never be another… Dance and expression can never be the same for us actors and for everyone who loved her… Love you Masterji. Till we dance again,” the actor wrote in the caption.

Choreographer Farah Khan said she was among the countless artistes who were inspired by Khans work. “Rest in peace Sarojji… You were an inspiration to many, myself included. Thank you for the songs,” she wrote on Twitter.

Choreographer-turned-filmmaker Remo DSouza said, “#RIP Saroji, you will be missed… Big loss to dance fraternity.”

Actor Taapsee Pannu said she will forever cherish the memories of working with the veteran choreographer. “At least I had a chance to dance in your company. I am going to hold on to those memories tight… real tight. We lose another star to the sky. Your songs will make every girl remember you for ever and ever,” the actor tweeted.

Abhishek Bachchan recalled that his first ever song sequence for a film was choreographed by Khan and said he learned so much from her.

“My first ever song was choreographed by Saroj ji. And then so many more. You taught me so much. I will miss you, Saroj ji. May you rest in peace,” he tweeted.

Director Hansal Mehta wrote, “An era is over. RIP Saroj Khan.”

Nimrat Kaur said there will be no one in the industry who could do what Khan did in her lifetime.

“Saroj ji’s name introduced the word choreographer to my life. A genius who immortalised stars and the music that defined an era with her iconic work. May her loved ones find strength and courage at this terrible hour. The rell never be another…#RIPSarojKhan #Legend #Masterji” she said.

South superstar Mahesh Babu said Khan’s “timeless classics” will continue to inspire artistes for years to come.

“Saddened to hear about the demise of ace choreographer #SarojKhan… Her timeless classics will continue to inspire generations to come. The end of an era… Heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones. RIP Saroj Khan.”

Veteran actor Shabana Azmi remembered Khan as one of the “finest choreographers” of the industry. “Tremendous grace and a mobile face with quicksilver expressions were her hallmark. I worked with her very early in my career and she was immeasurably patient and kind. RIP #Saroj Khan,” she tweeted.

Genelia Deshmukh said she is grateful to have worked with the legendary artiste. “RIP Saroji … I thank God I got a chance to be choreographed by you.. Prayers and Strength to the Family… #SarojKhan” she said.

“Woke up to the heartbreaking news of the legendary choreographer #SarojKhan’s demise. Her iconic dance moves inspired me at a very young age. Rest in peace Saroj Ji. You are truly irreplaceable,” tweeted Tamannaah Bhatia.

Rakul Preet Singh mourned that her dream of working with Khan will remain unfulfilled.

“Always dreamt of doing at least one song Choreographed by her. Your grace and contribution to Indian cinema shall always be remembered. May your soul RIP. Strength to the family,” she said.

Filmmaker Sanjay Gupta said he learnt a lot while working with Khan.

“The first song I conceived Tamma Tamma Loge to Dil Dil Dil the first song of my debut film Aatish were choreographed by the legendary Saroj Khan. Learnt so much from her. RIP Saroj Ji and keep smiling like you always did,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site.

Khan, a three-time National Award winner, was not keeping well for some time. She was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital in Bandra last Saturday after she complained of breathing issues. She had tested negative for Covid-19.

The veteran choreographer is survived by son Raju Khan and daughter Sukaina Khan. Her funeral was held on Friday morning at a cemetery in suburban Malad.

Even though earlier reports said she was stable and will be discharged soon, she died at 1.52 am on Friday.

Khan’s demise is the fourth death in the industry this year, after the passing away of actors Irfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor and Sushant Singh Rajput.

(With inputs from agencies)

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