‘Madhuri Dixit picked steps but couldn’t shake hips, Hrithik Roshan a perfect dancer’: Saroj Khan on Bollywood’s best dancers
Choreographer Saroj Khan worked with some of the best dancers in modern Bollywood history. From Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi to Aishwarya Rai to Kangana Ranaut, all danced to her tune. Post her death, archival matter has surfaced where she talks about the special quality of her many muses.
In recent memory, there cannot be a better example of an artist and her muse than Saroj and Madhuri. Through the ’90s, in film after film, they worked tirelessly to create magic onscreen. If there was one person who helped Madhuri reach her full potential, it was Saroj Khan.
Saroj has always complimented Madhuri, not only for her skill at dancing but also her passion, hard work and desire for perfection. Speaking about how Madhuri’s works will always remain special to Saroj. In an interview with Mirror Online, she had said: “Madhuri could pick up dance steps easily, she was a trained Kathak dancer and learnt for 12 years. But, the problem was she couldn’t shake her hips. In Kathak, you don’t shake your hip. The film we did together was Subhas Ghai’s Uttar Dakshin. From there our journey started and I started teaching her. She was a little slow in the beginning but she got the heck of it. Madhuri used to copy me to the tee. Ek Do Teen was the best performance of Madhuri and it established her as a dancer. We have a beautiful journey together and Madhuri was the best student I have ever come across.”
She said she only had to mould Madhuri. “She has a charming smile. But if you smile every time unnecessarily, you lose the charm. Only certain places where it was required, we would tell her to smile. She obeyed very well, If I say, if the hand goes to a certain place, no matter how many takes we do, the hand will come there only. Madhuri practised for Ek Do Teen diligently. She practised for 17 days. On the 10th day, I told her that she is perfect and can relax. She refused and stressed to practice more.”
However, before Saroj’s relationship with Madhuri would become stuff of legends, she had worked with the previous reigning superstar - Sridevi. Talking to Filmfare about her, Saroj had said: “Sridevi was a fine person, a good dancer and an excellent actor. Dance came easily and naturally to her. Every time she slipped into a different costume, she appeared different. Such was her magic. Her eyes lit up when she faced the camera. Until then, she was a dead woman. At that point, I’d wonder whether she had understood my instructions or not. But as soon as soon as I said ‘action’, God knows what happened to her. She was a dream. She was a choreographer’s delight.”
On another occasion, speaking about Hrithik Roshan, she had said: “Hrithik [Roshan] is such a perfect dancer that even the choreographers take time to think about what to give him. But sometimes you wish he makes a mistake. He’s too perfect a dancer. Because watching him, you’ll only watch [stares open-mouthed] -- like that -- whereas, say Amitabh Bachchan, if he gets up and does 1-2-3 you feel like getting up and, you also want to do it. I am praising him [Hrithik] and I am giving him a little on the wrong side also. Because I don’t find any fault in him. He’s like a born dancer. He doesn’t need anybody. He can do it himself.”
Talking about Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, whom she choreographed alongside Madhuri in Devdas, Saroj had told Rediff.com in an interview, “Aishwarya is a graceful dancer, and God has given her out-of-the-world beauty. She is very obedient.”
Saroj Khan died in Mumbai on Thursday, due to a cardiac arrest. She was 71.
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