‘Saroj Khan made every dance move look classy’Updated: Jul 04, 2020 01:14 IST
Veteran choreographer and three-time national award winner Saroj Khan, who has more than 2,000 songs to her credit, died of cardiac arrest on Friday morning. The 71-year-old was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital on June 17, after she complained of breathlessness. She was buried at a cemetery in Malad. Khan rose to fame in the 1980s and 90s, when she collaborated with top stars Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla.
Juhi Chawla remembers ‘Bollywood’s Masterji’
I have many memories of working with her from early in my career up to a TV show, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 3, in 2009. Saroj ji was sheer magic, when she danced or choreographed. You couldn’t take your eyes off her when she began to dance. Her sensibilities regarding direction of a shot in a song, expressions and movements were superlative. She had a fine sense of humour and we bonded over that. She was top-notch whether it was the way she took the shot, or how she wanted an actor to perform, or guiding them on how to dress up in a song.
The first time I worked with her was for the song, Lagi Aaj Saavan ki fir who jhadi hai, from Chandni. We were shooting in Chandivli studios. I was relatively new and anxious to shoot for a Yash Chopra film and with the top choreographer of the time, Saroj ji. Thankfully, every take was okayed after one or two takes. Then we shot many songs, including some of my most famous ones. I remember shooting for Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke title song, Main koi aisa geet gaoon from Yes Boss, Ishq Hua from Ishq, songs in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and a few others.
I remember she shot ‘Main teri rani tu raja mera’ in Lootere. I was coming from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, so from ghagra choli to just a shirt was an image makeover. When I saw how Masterji shot it and how the song turned out, I was amazed. Saroj ji could make everything look classy. That was her gift. She had the finesse to make a seductive song look good and not cheap.
Another song that I remember was in Karobaar. We were shooting in South Africa with Anil Kapoor ji and Rishi Kapoor ji and Rakesh Roshanji was directing us. I remember crying and insisting that I would feel comfortable shooting the song only with Sarojji. Rakesh ji was kind and called her up. She was in India, shooting for some other film and came after a few days. In the 1990s, she was booked and overbooked at times too.
Whenever I worked with her, it would take me a day or two to get into the groove and in the next two days, the song would be over, and then we would connect after six months on the next song.
I loved working with her, but was always anxious.