Subhash Ghai: Saroj Khan would extract the best from each actor

Updated: Jul 04, 2020, 07:17 IST | Upala KBR | Mumbai

A special category for Best Choreography was created by a publishing house, and Saroj Khan won it that year, for Hero.

Khan with Ghai and Hrithik Roshan during the shoot of Yaadein
Khan with Ghai and Hrithik Roshan during the shoot of Yaadein

Saroj Sub[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
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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