Farewell to India’s Kathak Maestro: Legacy of Pandit Birju Maharaj
Indian Kathak Maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passed away late Sunday night after suffering a heart attack. The 83-year-old Kathak dancer, also known as ‘Pandit Birju Maharaj,’ was born Brijmohan Mishra. On February 4, 1938, he was born in the Lucknow Kalka-Bindadin Gharana of Kathak dance.
An era has come to an end with the death of the great dancer. While the country mourns Pandit Birju Maharaj’s death, here are some lesser-known facts about him.
- Pandit Birju Maharaj was just seven years old when he performed his debut performance.
- Pandit Ji, as he was affectionately known by his students, was taught Kathak by his father, Acchan Maharaj.
- Birju Maharaj was trained by his two uncles Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, who came from a line of Kathak dancers.
- Birju Maharaj is said to have begun teaching Kathak when he was 13 years old. He used to teach lessons at Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi.
Kathak was elevated to unprecedented heights by Pandit Birju Maharaj. Birju Maharaj, carrying on his family’s tradition of producing outstanding Kathak dancers, took Kathak to new heights by choreographing Kathak dance into tragedies.
Pandit Birju Maharaj travelled the world throughout his career, presenting thousands of performances and holding hundreds of Kathak seminars for pupils.
He was the director of New Delhi’s renowned Kathak Kendra. He remained the president of the school until his retirement in 1998. Following his retirement from Kathak Kendra, Birju Maharaj established his own Kathak academy, ‘Kalashram,’ in New Delhi.
Kathak Maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj was also a huge fan of Hindustani Classical music. Few people know that he had an interest in music in addition to Kathak. He was an exceptional vocalist as well as a songwriter. He sang and created songs for the film ‘Shatranj Ke Khilari.’
Many Bollywood songs have been choreographed by Pandit Birju Maharaj. In reality, star Madhuri Dixit was one of his students who he had coached for the song “Kaahe Ched Mohe” in the 2002 film “Devdas.” Deepika Padukone was featured in Bajirao Mastani’s song ‘Mohe Rang Do Laal,’ which he choreographed recently. The maestro choreographed some of the most famous Bollywood dances, which are listed below:
- Devdas’ Kaahe Ched Mohe
- Vishwaroopam’s Unnai Kaanadhu Naan
- Jagaave Saari Raina – Bajirao Mastani’s Dedh Ishqiya
- Mohe Rang Do Laal