Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passes away at the age of 83

The 83-year-old Mahan, who was a pioneer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow style of Kathak, breathed his last at Saket Hospital in New Delhi.

His grandson Swarna Mishra shared the news of his demise on social media and wrote, “Very sad to announce.. Pt Birju Maharaj ji.. My Nana ji is no more. We are deeply saddened and saddened by our sad and untimely demise. Please inform that dearest member of the family Pt Birju Maharaj ji.

Born on February 4, 1938, in the family of Kathak revivalist Ishwari Prasadji, Birju Maharaj was the son of Pandit Achan Maharaj. Although his father passed away when he was just nine years old, he was left in the care of his famous uncles Pt Lacchu Maharaj and Pt Shambhu Maharaj.

Initially his name was ‘Dukh Haran’, which was later changed to ‘Brajmohan’, a synonym for Krishna. Brijmohan Nath Mishra was then shortened to ‘Birju’.

Bollywood mourns the death of Kathak legend Pandit Birju Maharaj

He started performing at an early age, and at the age of seven, he traveled with his father to many parts of India. Solo shows also started at an early age.

Early in his career, Pt Birju Maharaj was sent by the Government of India to represent India in various festivals. He visited countries including Russia, USA, Japan, UK, UAE, France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Czech Republic among others.

It is no small measure of his talent that Pt Birju Maharaj was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award at the young age of 28. He has received Kalidas Samman, Nritya Chudamani, Andhra Ratna, Nritya Vilas, Aadharshila Shikhar Samman, Soviet Land Nehru in various ways. Award, Shiromani Samman, and Rajiv Gandhi Peace Prize besides an honorary doctorate from Banaras Hindu University.

The world of cinema turned to this talent whenever there was a need for authentic Kathak dance to take its story forward. Pt Birju Maharaj choreographed both excellent scenes in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ – one featuring Amjad Khan as Nawab Wajid Ali Shah surrounded by his queens, the other featuring a solo by Saraswati Sen.

He choreographed Madhuri Dixit twice, once in ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ and then in ‘Devdas’ (Kahe Ched). He also had the good fortune of guiding a song sequence in Gadar.

Pt Birju Maharaj is the father of five children, three daughters and two sons.

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