Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passes away
By Sanjay Maurya
According to reports, Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passed away on Monday (January 17) at his residence in Delhi after suffering a heart attack. He was 83 years old when he died. He was born as Brij Mohan Nath Mishra on February 4, 1937, from a well-known Kathak dance family and is the winner of the country’s second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan. The news comes only days after Pt Munna Shukla, his nephew, and disciple, died at the age of 78 after a brief illness.
Pandit Birju Maharaj
- Born: February 1938, Handia
- Died: 16 Jan 2022
- Awards: National Film Award for Best Choreography, the Padma Vibhushan, and more
- Children: Deepak Maharaj, Mamta Maharaj, Jaikishan Maharaj
- Parents: Acchan Maharaj, Amma Ji Maharaj
Pandit Birju Maharaj was a direct descendent of the Kathak dancers Maharaj family, which included his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, as well as his father and master, Acchan Maharaj. His father and uncle started training him in the dance form when he was quite young. Pandit Birju Maharaj’s first significant solo performance was during Manmath Nath Ghosh’s Bengal festivities, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Pandit Birju Maharaj, one of India’s most well-known artists, has been undergoing dialysis therapy due to a renal problem. His granddaughter Ragini Maharaj said, “He probably died of cardiac arrest.” “Maharaj Ji”, as he was popularly known, was surrounded by his family and disciples. They were playing ‘antakshari’ after dinner when he suddenly fell ill at around 12.30 am. “We immediately took him to the hospital but could not save him,” she said.
Pandit Birju Maharaj Journey
- He began performing at a young age, and by the age of seven, he had travelled across India with his father. Solo performances began at an early age as well.
- Pt Birju Maharaj was dispatched by the Government of India to represent India at various festivals from the beginning of his career. He visited Russia, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic, among other nations.
- By choreographing new Kathak dance dramas, he elevated Kathak to new heights.
- Birju Maharaj has travelled widely over the world, giving thousands of performances and hundreds of workshops for Kathak students.
- Birju Maharaj was the director of the Kathak Kendra in New Delhi for several years until retiring in 1998 and opening his own dance school, Kalashram, in the same city.
- For the film Shatranj Ke Khilari, he created the soundtrack and also sang.
- He choreographed dance for the 2002 film version of novella Devdas and Vishwaroopam, for which he won the National Film Award in 2012.
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