Katrina can’t dance: Pandit Birju Maharaj

?width=300&resizemode=4″ alt=”Katrina can’t dance: Pandit Birju Maharaj” width=”300″ height=”200″ border=”0″ vspace=”0″ /> He is a living legend alright, but humility could well be Pandit Birju Maharaj’s middle name. The maestro credits all his amazing feats to “the blessings of Lord Krishna and the love of the people of this country.”

The maestro has quite a sense of humour. Asked to rate today’s B-Town heroines on their dancing ability, he wittily remarks, “Just the other day, I was watching Katrina Kaif on TV. Us ko naachna nahi, hilna bolte hai! Today’s heroines have no personality and can’t carry a dance on their own shoulders. They are nowhere in the same league as Waheeda Rehman or Meena Kumari and think that whatever they do is the right thing.”

In Vadodara for a performance, the maestro shares, “I salute Gujarat because my Lord Krishna took this route on his way to Dwarka.”

Coming back to films, the maestro, who has worked for films like Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Dil To Pagal Hai and Devdas, shares, “It was a pleasure to work with Madhuri Dixit, who attended my workshops twice. She has no ego hassles and even after a dance sequence was okayed, she asked for suggestions. I get many offers to choreograph for films but turn most of them down. Recently, I taught Kamal Haasan a few Kathak steps for his film Vishwaroopam. He is a very eager learner.” With a hearty laugh, he adds, “I ask a director, heroine kapde pehnegi na? I can’t imagine a song choreographed by me being presented in a vulgar way. I would never do songs with lyrics like ‘kursi ke neeche’ or ‘khatiye ke upar’. See, Helen never looked vulgar while doing all those cabaret songs. Today, to sell films, directors end up showing women dancing to cabaret songs even in jungles. It looks terrible.”

About his experience of working with youngsters, the maestro says, “Even if five percent of the students that we teach end up pursuing the form seriously, it’s heartening. God has blessed me with this ability to teach Kathak in a simple manner to kids and I will keep doing it till my last breath.” Remembering his early days, the maestro shares, “At the age of six, I was employed by the Nawab of Rampur and earned `21 as salary. On days, the Nawab would send for me even as late as 2.30 am because he wanted to watch me perform. I remember my sister putting kajal in my eyes, while I would want to go back to sleep! I didn’t wish the Nawab well at such times. I gave my first public performance at the age of seven in front of legends at Delhi and since then, I have never looked back.”

Remembering his late uncle Lachhu Maharaj, a legend in own right, he says, “I remember he would keep telling me to move to Mumbai. But my mother asked me what would happen to our family tradition. And I never thought of it again. When he (Lachhu Maharaj) passed away, I asked for a rare book on Kathak that he had to keep with me.”

On a parting note, he says, “Come what may, our classical art forms are very rich and they will withstand all kinds of onslaught from Western forms.”

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1 Comment
  1. cr7 7 years ago

    baba jee ka naya dushman

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