Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan died on Friday after suffering a cardiac arrest. She was 71 and in the hospital since last Saturday after complaining of breathlessness.
In her career spanning over several decades, Saroj won many accolades, including three National Awards. She learnt dance from well-known dance director B Sohanlal, who taught her the basics of classical dance forms, including Kathak and Bharatnatyam.
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Talking about her family, Saroj Khan had said, “My parents moved to India from Pakistan after partition. My father, Kishanchand Sadhu Singh was a Punjabi, while my mother, Noni, a Sindhi. My father had a flourishing business in Pakistan but he had to leave everything behind when he came to India. I was born in India.”
Bor Nirmala Nagpal, her name was changed to Saroj when she started working in films at the age of 3. “My original name was Nirmala. My father changed my name to Saroj when he put me in the movies, so that his orthodox family would not know the truth about his little daughter working in films, which was not considered very respectable in those days,” Saroj Khan had said.
Saroj was just 14 years old when she had a relationship with her guru, who was three decades older and already married. She told Rediff in a 2012 interview, “At the age of 14, I had a relationship with Sohan Lal, who was 43 then. I had two children with him, Raju Khan, who is a choreographer, and Cuckoo Khan, who died last February of liver complications. Since Lal was not ready to give my kids his name, I married a Pathan and had one child by him.”
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Saroj single-handedly raised her two children after separating from Sohanlal, before falling in love and marrying businessman Sardar Roshan Khan a few years later.
Saroj, who shot to fame with the success of Tezaab in 1988, choreographed several iconic songs including Na Jaane Kahaan Se from Chaalbaaz (1989), Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast from Mohra (1994), Chane Ke Khet Mein from Anjaam (1994) and Yeh Ishq Haaye from Jab We Met (2008). She was laid to rest at a cemetery in the Malad area of Mumbai on Friday morning. A prayer meet will be held next week.
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