Birju Maharaj, a legendary Kathak performer who brought ancient Indian dance art to the globe, died on Monday. He was 83 years old when he died. Several Bollywood celebs and fans expressed their sorrow after his death was announced on his social media platform by his granddaughter Ragini Maharaj.
Kamal Haasan shared a throwback picture of himself when he was trained by the legendary Birju Maharaj. He called him “the unparalleled dancer.” Choreographer-turned-filmmaker Farah Khan was also among the firsts to react to Maharaj’s passing away. “The world loses a genuine stalwart,” she mentioned via Twitter.
“We've lost a peerless dancer like Pandit Birju Maharaj. For several years, I learned from him, from a distance, as Ekalavya did.. then I got to learn from him in person for the film Vishwaroopam. ‘Without you insight, I'm not who I am”, tweeted the actor in Tamil.
ஈடு இணையற்ற நடனக் கலைஞரான பண்டிட் பிர்ஜூ மகராஜ் மறைந்தார்.ஓர் ஏகலைவனைப் போல பல்லாண்டுகள் தொலைவிலிருந்து அவதானித்தும்,விஸ்வரூபம் படத்திற்காக அருகிருந்தும் நான் கற்றுக்கொண்டவை ஏராளம்.இசைக்கும் நாட்டியத்திற்கும் தன் ஆயுளை அர்ப்பணித்துக்கொண்டவரே, ‘உன்னை காணாது நான் இன்று நானில்லையே’ pic.twitter.com/WC9bTUkjE2— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) January 17, 2022
Hema Malini, an actor and politician, was one of the first to pay respect to the late dancer. “The nation mourns the passing of a true legend, Shri Birju Maharaj, Kathak exponent par excellence. His ghungroos were on his ankles till he breathed his last. I always admired and respected him as a giant of the medium of Kathak & will miss his presence on the firmament of dance,” on Twitter, the actor, who is also a qualified Bharatnatyam dancer, revealed the news. Her daughter, Esha Deol, later took to Twitter to say that the classical dancer had died, she said “an inspiration for generations to come.”
Here are some of the other reactions from celebs on his death:
He was a legend but had a child like innocence. He was my guru but also my friend. He taught me the intricacies of dance and Abhinay but never failed to make me laugh at his funny anecdotes. pic.twitter.com/KfcqravsXX— Madhuri Dixit Nene (@MadhuriDixit) January 17, 2022
The legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj leaves behind a void that can never be filled. Thank you for your huge contribution to the world of Dance and inspiring so many like me with your art. You will be missed. Rest in peace Panditji, condolences to the family and friends. pic.twitter.com/JhnzVGq3VG— Yami Gautam Dhar (@yamigautam) January 17, 2022
A big vacuum in the world of Kathak dance … will miss you Pandit Birju Maharaj ji . RIP 🙏🏻— Shankar Mahadevan (@Shankar_Live) January 17, 2022
His death, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a "irreparable loss" to the whole art world. “Deeply saddened by the demise of Pandit Birju Maharaj ji, who gave Indian dance a special recognition world over. His passing is an irreparable loss to the entire art world. My condolences to his family and fans in this hour of grief,” the prime minister said.
Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan shared a throwback picture with Birju Maharaj. He said his passing away “marks the end of an era for Indian dance and Kathak.” “For me it’s been a personal loss. He was loved immensely by my family and his memories live in our hearts forever. The heavens will dance for him today and everyday,” he shared.
Maharaj-Ji, as he was affectionately known, passed away in the company of his family and disciples. Ragini Maharaj, his granddaughter, told PTI, “He was with us when this happened. He had his dinner and we were playing antakshari because he loved old music. He was lying down and suddenly his breathing became uneven. We think it was cardiac arrest as he was also a heart patient. This happened between 12.15 and 12.30 am. It must have been just a minute or so. We rushed to the hospital but unfortunately, we could not save him. He died before reaching the hospital.”