Subhash Ghai: Saroj Khan would extract the best from each actor
A special category for Best Choreography was created by a publishing house, and Saroj Khan won it that year, for Hero.
[Saroj Khan's death] is a personal loss. Last Saturday, when I learnt that she was hospitalised, her daughter Guddi messaged me saying she was [getting] better. Saroj was slipping in and out of consciousness and could communicate. When Guddi told her that I had called to ask for her, Saroj smiled for the first time. It was an emotional moment for me.
Aruna Irani had first recommended Saroj for a song in my film Vidhaata. I told Saroj I was making a movie with Dilip Kumar and Sanjay Dutt, and had one song left to complete. It was the climax song, Pyar ka imtihan, with Sarika. I was impressed with Saroj's grace. I promised her that I would give her my next movie, if she could give me a good climax song. She worked very hard, and when she gave me the song, I gave her Hero, starring Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri. For the first time, at my insistence, a special category for Best Choreography was created by a publishing house, and Saroj won it that year, for Hero.
The year that it released, Choli ke peeche became the most controversial song. When I gave her the song, she loved it and told me to [let her handle it]. We were buddies who would fight over creative calls. I told her it would feature Madhuri Dixit, and explained the situation [in the film where the song would be placed]. I told her it is a sensitive number, and that she would have to make it look aesthetically appropriate. She rehearsed for 15 days in a hall, and created each step. Each day, I would go to see what she was doing, and would fight with her over [the choreography]. We would discuss what would or wouldn't work. We could get on the same page quickly.
Khan brought Ghai a gift for the latter’s birthday celebrations
Saroj was the best dance teacher for every newcomer. She understood their body language and [expressions] and could choreograph steps accordingly. Hence, it would be easier for the actor — even if s/he couldn't dance — to grasp the steps. She knew the art of extracting the best from every artiste. Madhuri, Manisha [Koirala], Mahima [Chaudhary] were all newcomers when they learnt to dance for cinema, from Saroj. She was an integral part of my cinematic journey. Our bond was unbreakable.
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