The Padma Vibhushan awardee was rushed to the hospital after experiencing breathlessness after midnight.
Legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj dies at 83 of heart attack
Mumbai - 17 Jan 2022 12:50 IST
Legendary Kathak maestro Birju Maharaj died early on Monday after suffering a heart attack in New Delhi. He was 83 years old.
The Padma Vibhushan awardee's granddaughter Ragini Maharaj told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency that her grandfather took ill suddenly after midnight and was rushed to the hospital.
He was under treatment for the past month. He had sudden breathlessness at around 12:15-12:30 am last night; we brought him to the hospital within 10 mins, but he passed away: Ragini Maharaj, granddaughter of Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj pic.twitter.com/hyUpruU9Eu— ANI (@ANI) January 17, 2022
Born Brij Mohan Nath Mishra on 4 February 1938, Birju Maharaj hailed from a legendary family of Kathak exponents of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow. Alongside his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj, his uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lacchu Maharaj, were also famed for their skills. Under his father, he learned classical Hindustani and Carnatic vocals along with the Kathak form.
Pandit Birju Maharaj taught for a long time at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra and was also head of the Kathak Kendra of the Sangeet Natak Akademi in New Delhi. He was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1964, followed by the Padma Vibhushan in 1986 and the Kalidas Samman in 1987.
While remaining the foremost exponent of the classical dance form, he choreographed dance sequences for a few iconic films. His first contact with Hindi cinema was with Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977) where he laid out two sequences. Panditji, as he was known, also arranged the moves for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas (2002) and Abhishek Chaubey's Dedh Ishqiya (2014). He won the National award for his choreography of 'Unnai Kaanatha' from Vishwaroopam (2013) and the Filmfare award for Best Choreography for directing the song 'Mohe Rang Do Laal' from Bajirao Mastani (2015).
The maestro's passing was mourned across the country, with the prime minister and president of India offering their condolences online.
भारतीय नृत्य कला को विश्वभर में विशिष्ट पहचान दिलाने वाले पंडित बिरजू महाराज जी के निधन से अत्यंत दुख हुआ है। उनका जाना संपूर्ण कला जगत के लिए एक अपूरणीय क्षति है। शोक की इस घड़ी में मेरी संवेदनाएं उनके परिजनों और प्रशंसकों के साथ हैं। ओम शांति! pic.twitter.com/PtqDkoe8kd— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 17, 2022
The demise of legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj marks the end of an era. It leaves a deep void in the Indian music and cultural space. He became an icon, making unparalleled contribution to popularise Kathak globally. Condolences to his family and admirers.— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) January 17, 2022
कथक नृत्य के विश्व प्रख्यात गुरु पंडित बिरजू महाराज जी के निधन से भारतीय संस्कृति की एक जीवंत धरोहर का अवसान हुआ है। उनके परिजनों, कला प्रशंसकों और उनके शिष्यों के प्रति हार्दिक संवेदनाएं व्यक्त करता हूं। मेरी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि! pic.twitter.com/LgqhyyxXj7— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) January 17, 2022
Sarod doyen Amjad Ali Khan mourned the loss of the legend, saying that his passing marked the end of an era.
The passing away of Pandit Birju Maharaj marks the end of an era for Indian dance and Kathak. For me it’s been a personal loss. He was loved immensely by my family and his memories live in our hearts forever. The heavens will dance for him today and everyday! 🙏🙏 May he RIP pic.twitter.com/aVYYUnU2UV— Amjad Ali Khan (@AAKSarod) January 17, 2022
Veteran actress and politician Hema Malini and artiste and producer Rituparna Sengupta also eulogized the artiste online.
So sad!! Heartbroken...Our Maharaj is no more....End of an era!! His legacy will remain with us for generations to come...we will miss you our eternal dance Guru ...🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/wHfSG2hR2S— Rituparna Sengupta (@RituparnaSpeaks) January 17, 2022
The nation mourns the passing of a true legend, Shri Birju Maharaj,Kathak exponent par excellence. His ghungroos were on his ankles till he breathed his last.I always admired and respected him as a giant of the medium of Kathak & will miss his presence on the firmament of dance🙏 pic.twitter.com/Wz0VLGDQPW— Hema Malini (@dreamgirlhema) January 17, 2022
Actor-director Kamal Haasan shared an image of himself being directed by Pandit Birju Maharaj for the song 'Unnai Kaanadhu Naan' on the sets of Vishwaroopam. Describing the experience from the sets, the actor called himself fortunate to be able to 'learn for a while' from Panditji's presence.
ஈடு இணையற்ற நடனக் கலைஞரான பண்டிட் பிர்ஜூ மகராஜ் மறைந்தார்.ஓர் ஏகலைவனைப் போல பல்லாண்டுகள் தொலைவிலிருந்து அவதானித்தும்,விஸ்வரூபம் படத்திற்காக அருகிருந்தும் நான் கற்றுக்கொண்டவை ஏராளம்.இசைக்கும் நாட்டியத்திற்கும் தன் ஆயுளை அர்ப்பணித்துக்கொண்டவரே, ‘உன்னை காணாது நான் இன்று நானில்லையே’ pic.twitter.com/WC9bTUkjE2— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) January 17, 2022