Amrita Rao on Saroj Khan: Dance was not just beats, it was an experience and romance for her
“I consider myself lucky to begin my career with the best dance guru”, says actor Amrita Rao, while taking a trip down the memory lane about working with choreography legend Saroj Khan, while also sharing the “golden compliments” by her.
“The first flash of memory of master ji that comes to my mind is the dance rehearsal time for Ab Ke Baras (2002). She was very strict, I was scared of her and at the same time excited that the legend was choreographing me for my first movie. I remember she had complimented me during that time and said, ‘Yeh ladki mujhe young Madhuri ki yaad dilati hai,” she says.
Reminiscing how Khan would keep an eye on her and would always point it out whenever a dance step would lack perfection. “She would say ‘ladki kya kar rahi hai’. And I used be so petrified. On the last day of shoot in Switzerland, she held my hand and very warmly said, ‘mujhe jab kisi pe pyaar aata hai na toh main pyar se ladki bulati hoon’, these things always stay with you,” she says, adding that she also had the pleasure of working with her again in Milan Luthria’s Deewar (2004) for one song.
Meeting Khan last year at an award show held in Mumbai brought back a lot of memories, reveals Rao. “I touched her feet and she was so happy meeting me after so long. We couldn’t speak much though, but had a brief conversation about how life and work,” she says.
Talking more about how the National award winning choreographer approached towards her art, Rao shares that Khan would never miss a single beat.
“She was so particular about catching every beat and having a step for it. She was very particular about expression and emoting to every dance move with equal elegance. Different choreographers have different approach, but these are particular aspects about Saroj ji,” she says, adding that she and Khan would often exchange messages.
“There is this celebration called Micchami Dukkadam and master ji would send messages on that day and she would write that ‘If I’ve done anything wrong then I ask for forgiveness.’ It would be so touching coming from somebody of her age and stature,” she adds.
Rao says Bollywood would miss a choreographer like her. “She had that old world charm. Dance was not just beats for her, it was an experience. It was romance for her,” she says.