Her 25-year-old journey as a leading dancer and choreographer in Bollywood is nowhere close to an end, if Saroj Khan’s upcoming projects are anything to go by.
Her energy is still unbeatable, for the north’s heat might have tired her, but it couldn’t stop the 64-year-old from a whirlwind multi-stop visit to Chandigarh on Wednesday.
“It is because I enjoy working that I am still in the film industry,” she says. Passion and hard work have always been Saroj’s accompaniments, since she choreographed her first song when she was all of 14. After directing the song, Nigahen Milane Ko Jee Chahta Hai, from the 1963 film Dil Hi Toh Hai on yesteryears actress Nutan, Saroj found fame after her famous association with actress Madhuri Dixit, whom she first directed for the film Tezaab’s song Ek Do Teen.
Saroj smiles when she talks about working with Madhuri, “I would say she is the only one in Bollywood I have worked the longest with, though Sridevi and I have also worked closely. Madhuri is a great dancer who gets all the moves and expressions right. For me, expressions have always been the most important. Though I admit that today, the charm of ‘thumkas’ and expressions is missing.”
This brings her to compare her style of dance with what is in vogue. “My kind of dance style is nowadays put into the bin, as Bollywood choreographers are busy copying western dance steps. The other problem is that neither the actors nor the choreographers want to put in hard labour,” says Saroj, who has given Bollywood numerous hit dance steps in songs such as Dhak Dhak (from the film Beta), Nimbooda (from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), Taal Se Taal (Taal), Kajra Re (Bunty Aur Babli) and Dola Re Dola (Devdas). Last, Saroj choreographed for the 2012 film ABCD (Any Body Can Dance), Rowdy Rathore and Agent Vinod.
This year, she is busy with not just her one-month-long summer dance workshop — Danse Gurukool — but also some film projects.
The year 2013 is also special for Saroj as she works with Madhuri again after 10 years. “I am working with her in the film Gulaab Gang and we will be back with a bang,” she smiles, adding that her dance reality show on TV, Nachle Ve, which first went on air in 2008, continues to keep her busy.