Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj Passes Away

Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj Passes Away

Akash Bhatnagar

A living legend of Kathak and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Pandit Birju Maharaj, passed away at his home late early Monday morning. He was 83 of age and had been recently diagnosed with a kidney disease a few days ago and consequently put on dialysis. He was popularly referred to as Maharaj ji and was the torchbearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of the Lucknow style of Kathak.

It is reported that Maharaj ji was playing with his grandsons when his health deteriorated unexpectedly. He had to be rushed to the hospital yesterday where he succumbed to a heart attack. His grandson, Swaransh Mishra, shared the news of Maharaj ji’s demise on social media.

Here’s what he posted:

Maharaj ji was not just a legendary Kathak dancer, but a talented classical singer and percussionist as well. He was the son of Acchan Maharaj and his uncles were the renowned and respected Shambhu Maharaj and Lacchu Maharaj. He was the head of faculty at the Kathak Kendra, a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, from where he retired in 1998 and after that, he opened his own dance school named Kalashram in Delhi.

In his illustrious career, Maharaj ji had composed the music and sang for two dance sequences in Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi. He had also choreographed Madhuri Dixit for the song Kaahe Chhed Mohe in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. He also gave Deepika Padukone Kathak lessons for the song Mohe Rang Do Laal in Bajirao Mastani. He had been the recipient of many honours and it was in 1986, that he was conferred with the second highest civilian award in India, the Padma Vibhushan.