Saroj Khan: Celebrated Bollywood choreographer dies at 71

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Leading actresses including Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi danced to some of the most popular songs Khan had choreographed [File: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP]

Saroj Khan, a top Bollywood choreographer, died of cardiac arrest at a hospital in Indian financial hub of Mumbai early on Friday, her family said. She was 71.

The three-time National Award winner was admitted to hospital last Saturday after she complained of breathlessness. She tested negative for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“She passed away due to cardiac arrest at around 1:52am at the hospital. She had severe diabetes and related illness, and had tested negative for COVID-19,” her family said in a statement.

Khan choreographed on more than 2,000 songs in her career spanning more than 40 years. Leading actresses including Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi danced to some of the most popular numbers for which Khan choreographed.

Tributes poured in on social media for the ace choreographer, who was known as the “mother of dance/choreography in India” and fondly called “Masterji” [teacher] by most of the actors she worked with. 

“I’m devastated by the loss of my friend and guru, Saroj Khan. Will always be grateful for her work in helping me reach my full potential in dance. The world has lost an amazingly talented person. I will miss you. My sincere condolences to the family,” tweeted Dixit, one of the Bollywood’s most famous actors.

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar said she made dance look easy, almost like anybody can do it.

“A huge loss for the industry,” Kumar said in a Twitter post.

Khan started her acting career at the age of three in a Bollywood film. She later shifted to choreography and got her break in 1974. She never looked back and choreographed on some of the Bollywood’s most popular film songs.

She won acclaim for choreography in movies Mr India, Chandni, Beta, Tezaab and Gulab Gang. 

Khan was buried in a Mumbai cemetery on Friday, her nephew Manish Jagwani told reporters.

She is survived by her husband and three children.

Saroj Khan, left, hugs actress Madhuri Dixit after receiving a special award for Best Choreographer in last 20 years during the 20th International Indian Film Academy in Mumbai [File: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP]


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