Terence Lewis: Saroj Khan set the gold standard for choreographers

Published: Jul 04, 2020, 10:31 IST | IANS | Mumbai

New-age choreographer Terence Lewis says Saroj Khan was a "living legend" who made choreography a "recognisable and valuable part of the film business". Her work, he adds, has become a Bible for all choreographers.

Saroj Khan with Terance Lewis/picture courtesy: Terence Lewis' Instagram account
Saroj Khan with Terance Lewis/picture courtesy: Terence Lewis' Instagram account

She was an Iron lady who was not afraid to call a spade a spade! Saroj Khan had worked incredibly hard to achieve her position, given the patriarchy in the film industry and the times she lived in. I bow to her talent, her pulse on the music and lyrical interpretation through dance, and her knowledge of camera -- to capture the essence of the beauty of dance.

She set the gold standard for all choreographers. She was a living legend in her lifetime and through her labour of love made choreography a recognisable and valuable part of the film business.

Her ability to transform the raunchiest and most salacious lyrics and give the act dignity through her craft in songs like "Dhak dhak" and "Choli ke peeche" set her apart. Her work has become a Bible for all choreographers including myself.

 
 
 
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Celebrating Saroj Ji : An ode to a legend ! 🙏🏽😍 An Iron Lady who was not afraid to call a spade a spade! She was the only choreographer in the 90s n early 2000s where both the Producers n the SuperStars Revered n Feared her, with due respect ! I personally admired her grasp in being able to capture the mood of the music n her ability to interpret lyrics through dance n movement, transforming music n poetry into a heightened visual art! Sarojji was also the first Dance Masterji who worked so hard with her craft, that our film industry prior to 1988, hadn't even recognised it as a craft, till she came along n made them stand up on their feet ( literally n figuratively ) n take notice, giving her n the choreography department, due recognition in cinema! Such was the power of her work! Her biggest strength was her ability to transform the raunchiest lyrics and 'Dignify' it , with her artistic compositions ! In songs like Dhak Dhak and Choli ke Peeche, Sarojji with her beautiful muse Madhuri Dixit, who deserves credit too, created magic with her sheer brilliance n artistry, setting Gold Standards in Choreography ! Her work in cinema is a 'Bible of choreography' for me ! At a personal level, we shared a relationship of respect and her wit and candour was not everyone's cup of tea but I was besotted by her body of work and the power she exuded, so would take her punches with a pinch of salt! So besotted was I, that I would enjoy her rebukes... so smitten was I, that if she told me to get down on my knees n kiss her feet I would and that's asking way too much from me cause I rarely indulge in such heightened emotions! And yes I have to admit that if there is one person whose feet I have touched with genuine respect, then it would be her's, cause I come from a school of thought which has a very different take on respect n tokenism but we all have exceptions n Sarojji was that only exception! In my view, her epitaph would read "Here is an amazing woman who lived, loved, laboured n nurtured...Unabashed Unapologetic! " RIP #sarojkhan #doyen Let's celebrate her art, her spirit & let's keep her legacy alive ! Love n Respect! TL

A post shared by Terence Lewis (@terence_here) onJul 3, 2020 at 6:51am PDT

At a personal level, we shared a relationship of respect and I was besotted by her body of work and the power she exuded, always with wit and candour. Her professional work was the gold standard for all film choreographers.

I was lucky that I got to know about her personal life from her, and my respect for her just increased exponentially. She spoke her mind irrespective of position and power, and did not disguise any of her opinions.

She taught me to stand up and speak the truth, and she refused to let anyone throw shade at her and was unapologetic about her choices. This is something that I am still working on. She did not tolerate any star tantrums and would not compromise on her vision unlike what happens today.

We judged a school event together a couple of years ago. She was charming as always, though health problems had slowed her down. But mentally she was as sharp as ever and her in a characteristic way, she had everyone in the palm of her hand!

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