Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan dies of cardiac arrest

Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan died this morning (July 3, 2020) in Mumbai after she suffered a cardiac arrest. She was 71.

The three-time National Award winner was being treated in the Guru Nanak Hospital since June 20 after she complained of breathing issues. The mandatory COVID-19 test done at the hospital showed a negative result.

“She passed away due to cardiac arrest at around 2.30 am at the hospital,” Saroj Khan’s nephew Manish Jagwani told news agency PTI.

Tributes for the veteran choreographer poured in from Bollywood, where she choreographed over 2,000 songs in a career spanning over four decades.

Background
Born Nirmala, her parents migrated to India after partition of India. She started her career as a child artist at the age of three with the film Nazarana as child Shyama, and a background dancer in the late 1950s. She learnt dance while working under film choreographer B. Sohanlal ,she married him at the age of 13 while he was 43 years and was already married with 4 children which she did not know at the time of marriage.

Later, she herself shifted to choreography, first as an assistant choreographer and later getting her break as an independent choreographer, with Geeta Mera Naam (1974). However, she had to wait many years to receive acclaim, which came with her work with Sridevi; Hawa Hawai in Mr India (1987), Nagina (1986) and Chandni (1989), and later with Madhuri Dixit, starting with the hit Ek Do Teen in Tezaab (1988), Tamma Tamma Loge in Thanedaar (1990) and Dhak Dhak Karne Laga in Beta (1992). Thereafter, she went on to become one of the most successful Bollywood choreographers.

In 2014, Khan worked with Madhuri Dixit again in Gulaab Gang. She was on the advisory board of Rishihood University.

Saroj Khan appeared on a reality dance show as a member of the jury in 2005 Nach Baliye, which aired on STAR One along with two other judges. She also appeared in the second season of the same show. She has recently been a judge for the show Ustaadon Ka Ustaad, which is aired on Sony Entertainment Television (India). She appeared on the 2008 show Nachle Ve with Saroj Khan, which was aired on NDTV Imagine. She choreographed for this show.

She appeared on Sony’s Boogie Woogie (TV series) show from December 2008 as one of the judges, along with Javed Jaffrey, Naved Jaffrey and Ravi Behl. She was a judge on the third season of a popular show – Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, which began on 27 February 2009 and was aired on Sony Entertainment Television (India) alongside former Nach Baliye judge Vaibhavi Merchant and actress Juhi Chawla.

She was judging the dance reality show Nachle Ve with Saroj Khan. She has hosted and completed Nachle Ve with Saroj Khan.

In 2012, The Saroj Khan Story, a documentary produced by PSBT and Films Division of India and directed by Nidhi Tuli was released. She appeared in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah as Judge in a Dance Competition.

Saroj Khan was the first recipient of the filmfare Best Choreography Award. Filmfare instituted this award after watching the excellent choreography and audience response to Khan’s song “Ek Do Teen” from Tezaab. Saroj Khan went on to have a hat-trick at the Filmfare awards winning consistently for 3 years from 1989 to 1991. She also held the record for winning the most Filmfare Best Choreographer Awards, winning 8.

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