Renowned choreographer Saroj Khan, the name behind some of the most famous songs in Bollywood such as “Dhak Dhak” and “Ek Do Teen”, died of cardiac arrest early on Friday morning. She was 71.
The three-time National Award winner was not keeping well for some time.
She was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital in Bandra on June 20 after she complained of breathing issues. She had tested negative for COVID-19.
"She passed away due to cardiac arrest at around 2.30 am at the hospital," Khan's nephew Manish Jagwani said.
Khan is survived by son Raju Khan and daughter Sukaina Khan.
Her funeral was held on Friday morning at a cemetery in suburban Malad.
"We buried her at around 7 am. The prayer meeting will be held after three days," Sukaina said.
Mourning her death, superstar Akshay Kumar said Khan made dance look easy and accessible.
"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 tweeted.
Actor Suniel Shetty called Khan a true guru.
"You are loved... You are irreplaceable... A true Guru," he wrote.
Director Hansal Mehta wrote, "An era is over. RIP Saroj Khan."
Director Kunal Kohli, who worked with the choreographer on "Fanaa", remembered Khan as someone who stood up for people's rights.
"She stood up for the rights of people. Never bothered who was a star or not. She said her bit unadulterated and from the heart. Brought biryani on every song and fed the whole crew so lovingly.We gossiped, we worked. Thank you for the memories masterji. Saroj Khan love you always," he tweeted.
In a career spanning over four decades, Khan, who was known as Masterji, choreographed more than 2,000 songs.
Khan's best work was with actors Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit, the prominent dancing stars of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Her parents migrated to India after the Partition. She started her career in the film industry as a child artiste at the age of three and later worked as a background dancer.
The choreographer, who was born as Nirmala and later converted to Islam, learnt dance while working under film choreographer B Sohanlal. They got married when she was 13 and he was 41.
Khan got her first break as an independent choreographer with “Geeta Mera Naam” in 1974 but it took Sridevi’s “Hawa Hawai” song in 1987 film “Mr India” for her to receive acclaim as a dance choreographer of repute.
There was no looking back for Khan after the success of the song. She choreographed Sridevi in films such as “Nagina” and “Chandni”.
But it was her work with Madhuri Dixit that made her famous.
Starting with “Ek Do Teen” in “Tezaab”, she choreographed Madhuri in “Tamma Tamma Loge” in “Thanedar” and “Dhak Dhak Karne Laga” in “Beta” and "Dola Re Dola" from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Devdas". She also choreographed Kareena Kapoor in "Ye Ishq Haaye".
She last choreographed for "Tabaah Hogaye", featuring Madhuri from filmmaker Karan Johar's production "Kalank" in 2019.
Khan's death comes at a time when the film industry is already grappling with the loss of Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, Basu Chatterjee and Sushant Singh Rajput in recent months.
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