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Retracing Birju Maharaj's steps

Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen with Ritu Samhara dancers

Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen with Ritu Samhara dancers. Pic courtesy/Dinesh Poddar

Birju Maharaj in his early days

Panditji captured in his early days, dancing to a bhajan (devotional song) written by his grandfather Kalka Maharaj

Birju Maharaj

Seen here giving his best at the Vasantotsava programme organised by Kalashram (his dance school) at Kamani Auditorium in Delhi. Pic courtesy/Ashwami Chopra

Birju Maharaj seen having fun riding in a rickshaw driven by tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. Panditji has collaborated with Hussain on several instances

Birju Maharaj seen having fun riding in a rickshaw driven by tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. Panditji has collaborated with Hussain on several instances

Birju Maharaj

A lot has been said about Panditji’s dance prowess. But he is also a multi-instrumentalist, a vocalist and a painter. Seen here playing the tabla with gusto.

Birju Maharaj on sets of 'Vishwaroopam'

Panditji has often given his expertise to films made across languages and times such as Shatranj Ke Khiladi or Devdas. Seen here, directing actor Kamal Hassan and the troupe for the film Vishwaroopam. He won a National Film Award for Best Choreography for this film in 2012. Pic courtesy/Kamal Hassan

The mischievous boy
When Pandit Birju Maharaj was about a year old, his father Achhan Maharaj got an invitation from Raja Ram Nagar in Kolkata. His mother, Ammaji, little Birju and Sevakmama (his maternal uncle) accompanied him. One day, in a mischievous mood, the baby crawled up the stairs and hid under a cot that belonged to the landlady, an Anglo-Indian woman. After hours of search and anguish, they finally found him having a great time enjoying his pocketful of goodies while hidden.

Birju Maharaj: The Master Through My Eyes

Birju Maharaj, Saswati Sen, Niyogi Books, R995. Available at leading bookstores. All text and images extracted with permission from Niyogi Books.

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