We have a saying in Indian dance, “Where the hand goes, the eye follows; where the eye goes, the mind follows; where the mind goes, the heart follows, and thus is born expression.” Most dancers do their best to create a perfect fusion of mind-body in dance, but there is one such dancer, who completely embodies this saying – and that, my friends, is the legendary choreographer and dance master, Saroj Khan.
A couple months ago, I had a chance to interview the legend when she was headlining the Institute of Bollywood Dance and Film (“IBDF”) workshop in NYC, presented by choreographer, Rujuta Vaidya. However, we waited on launching the interview so we could present it to you today – on Saroj Khan’s birthday! The IBDF workshops were held in Chicago, LA, NJ, and lastly in NYC. Sarojji and I talked all things Bollywood and, of course, dance. I also had a rare chance to learn under Sarojji and Rujuta. It was one experience I doubt I will ever forget! Check out the interview to learn Sarojji’s thoughts on the changes in Bollywood dance, what dances are essential for a dancer to learn, and much more. Pictures are also below!
Saroj Khan (born “Nirmala Kishanchand Sadhu Singh Nagpal”) is perhaps one of the greatest choreographers Bollywood has seen. She has choreographed for the best of the best of Bollywood – from Nutan, Vyjayantimala, Sadhana, Sridevi, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Aamir Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Karisma Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, to Kareena Kapoor, and many others! Sarojji was only 14 when she choreographed her first song in Bollywood – for Nutan’s “Nigahen Milane Ko Jee Chahta Hai” from Dil Hi to Hai. Her first major break was for Subhash Ghai’s “Beta”, where she choreographed all the songs. Since then, she has choreographed well over 200 dances! Her most successful choreography has been for Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit and has gotten her a record 8 Filmfare Awards for Best Choreography, 3 National Awards for Best Choreography, and 1 American Choreography award (for Lagaan). Sarojji’s choreography has influenced millions around the world and she has trained several students at her dance academy – including, Rujuta Vaidya.
Rujuta Vaidya, the mastermind behind IBDF and the organizer for these workshops, has become a well known choreographer in her own right. People here will know her best as the first Indian to choreograph for Disney. Rujuta was choreographer for the Disney movie, “Cheetah Girls: One World”. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as Rujuta has also choreographed for many artists and projects including the “Jai Ho” Slumdog Millionaire performance at the Oscars for AR Rahman and John Legend, the Britney Spears 2009 “Circus” Tour, Oprah Winfrey’s Oscar special, the E! Network “Morning Show”, the Black Eyed Peas 2010 tour, Subway commercial, as well as the AR Rahman “The Journey Home” 2010 World Tour. Most recently, Rujutu choreographed for Priyanka Chopra’s “In My City” NFL video. Trained extensively under Saroj Khan, Rujuta founded IBDF as a means for people in the west to access high quality dance lessons.
Keep it locked to Urban Asian for details on any upcoming workshops, and for more great interviews head to our Youtube page! If you want to check out some dances Sarojji has choreographed, check out my list below for her top numbers.
Hits of Saroj Khan
- “Main Tera Dushman” – Nagina
- “Kate Nahin Kat Ke” – Mr. India
- “Na Jane Kahan Se” – Chaalbaaz
- Madhuri Dixit
- “Ek Do Teen” – Tezaab
- “Humko Aaj Kal Hai” – Sailab
- “Dhak Dhak Karne Laga” – Beta
- “Choli Ke Peeche” – KhalNayak
- “Mera Piya Ghar Aaya” – Yaraana
- Kajol and Shahrukh Khan
- “Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein” – Baazigar
- Aishwarya Ra
- “Nimbooda Nimbooda” – Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
- “Barso Re” – Guru
- Madhuri and Aishwarya
- “Dola Re” – Devdas
- Preity Zinta and Hrithik Roshan
- “Bhumbro” – Mission Kashmir
- Gracy Singh and Aamir Khan
- “Radha Kaise Na Jale” – Lagaan
- Kareena Kapoor
- “Yeh Ishq Hai” – Jab We Met
- “Dil Mera Muft Ka” – Agent Vinod