Retracing Birju Maharaj's steps
Be it international dance performances or his contribution to Indian cinema, Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj has always been revered for his contributions to the world of performing arts. As a tribute to the dancing legend, Saswati Sen, one of his disciples and an established Kathak dancer, gives us fascinating insights into the different aspects of his life and times in her book Birju Maharaj: The Master Through My Eyes. We've reproduced a few snapshots from the book for
Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen with Ritu Samhara dancers. Pic courtesy/Dinesh Poddar
Panditji captured in his early days, dancing to a bhajan (devotional song) written by his grandfather Kalka 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
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.
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, Saswati Sen, Niyogi Books, R995. Available at leading bookstores. All text and images extracted with permission from Niyogi Books.