Meaning of being Birju Maharaj | india | Hindustan Times
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Meaning of being Birju Maharaj

FUTURE GENERATIONS would be envious of us that we had the good fortune of experiencing Birju Maharaj. The famous ?sher? of Firaq, borrowed by Ashok Vajpeyi with reference to the Kathak Guru, was very apt.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 15:27 IST

FUTURE GENERATIONS would be envious of us that we had the good fortune of experiencing Birju Maharaj. The famous ‘sher’ of Firaq, borrowed by Ashok Vajpeyi with reference to the Kathak Guru, was very apt.

The poet’s statement that ‘A genius who sufficed Kathak’ amply describes this classical dancer, but to inform the youngsters who were not present in the overwhelming crowd of their brethren at Manikbagh Palace, Birju Maharaj is the embodiment of Kathak-Thumri — Lucknow style.

And what a time to relish this heady mix – peak of Phagun month, Saturday evening when the cultural identities were in conversation for the pleasure of Indoreans.

Brij Mohan Nath Mishra was born in the thick of Kathak. Besides father Achchan Maharaj and uncles Shambhu and Lachchu Maharaj, he was shaped by the influence of Bindadeen Maharaj; mother Mahadevi, though a housewife was no less knowledgeable of the intricacies of Kathak. Long before the passage of rites he became well versed in the rituals of Kathak, performing in the durbar of Rampur Nawab.

Stepping into teens, Birju was already a Maharaj, a Guru. One who had to be coaxed by Satyajit Ray to do choreography for ‘Shatranj ke Khiladi’ insisted upon by Madhuri Dixit for her deadly number in ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’.

Still, who dreamt of being a motor mechanic and cherished his cache of pliers and screwdrivers, is a man brimming with qualities.

Vajpeyi only had to scratch gently on the surface and Birju Maharaj was pouring out sweeping the audience with one mighty wave after another.

‘Balamare chunaria maika lal rangade’ (Darling get my scarf dyed red), sounds too easy to utter but he expressed it without words, over and over again for a dim-witted balama who just wouldn’t understand.

It was amazing in how many different ways Birjuji emoted it, number of various red coloured objects he suggested with sheer gestures and eye movements. In response to Vajpeyi’s pointed queries Birju Maharaj elaborated on a whole philosophy of this dance form.

Each ‘bol’ (words uttered with a connotation of rhythm) is competent and poetry unto itself. Interpreting beautifully on the transformation of Kathak from solo to group performance he envisaged 16 beats (Matra) as Gopis and their meeting point (sum) as Krishna, he took the listeners on an altogether different level.

A pupil beginning from scratch or roots has to rise through perseverance to trunk, branches and flower state. Then liberate oneself as fragrance. That is the level Birju Maharaj has attained and that was the delicacy music lovers were treated to.

Those who missed him have all the reason to turn green on Rang-Panchami and blame it on Ahilya Trust, Abhinav Kala Samaj and Shrota Biradary, the organisers.