When Saroj Khan slapped Shah Rukh Khan for complaining about being overworked: ‘There is no such thing as too much work’
Choreographer Saroj Khan imparted an important lesson on actor Shah Rukh Khan, when he complained that he was too tired to work. Saroj died at the age of 71 on Friday, and Shah Rukh in a tribute tweet called her his ‘first genuine teacher’.
In a 2018 interview to The Telegraph, Shah Rukh had recalled how the late choreographer had scolded him. “I remember, in my early days, I was working with Sarojji. In those days, I would work three shifts and would be like this (leans back on his chair and sticks his tongue out).”
Shah Rukh continued, “I told her, ‘Sarojji, itna kaam hai, thak gaya hoon (Sarojji, I am too tired, there is too much work)’. She would be very motherly towards me and she slapped me on the cheek, pyaar se (lovingly), and said, ‘Kabhi yeh mat kehna ki zyada kaam hai’ (Never complain about having too much work). In this area of work, there is never too much work. I just feel fortunate that I have so much to choose from. So, no pressure.”
Shah Rukh paid tribute to Saroj with a tweet. “My first genuine teacher in the film industry. She taught me for hours how to do the ‘dip’ for film dancing. One of the most caring, loving & inspiring persona i have ever met. Will miss you Sarojji. May Allah bless her soul. Thank u for looking after me,” he wrote.
Ironically, in 2019, the choreographer had admitted that work had dried up. In an interview to Mid-Day, she said that when actor Salman Khan heard of her plight, he promised to work with her in a future project. “When we met, Salman asked me what I was doing nowadays. So I told him honestly that I don’t have any work, and that I am teaching Indian classical dance to young actresses. Upon hearing that, he said, ‘Now, you will work with me’. I know he is a man of his word, so he will keep his promise.”
In an earlier interview to Rediff, she had said, “I became so popular that actresses started fighting over me. Now, the time has come when they don’t want me. I have very sharp movements in my dancing which actresses nowadays find it hard to do.”
Saroj was admitted to Mumbai’s Guru Nanak Hospital last month after she complained of trouble in breathing. “She passed away due to cardiac arrest at around 2:30 am at the hospital,” her nephew Manish Jagwani told news agency PTI. Her funeral took place on Friday morning in Malad, Mumbai.
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