Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passes away at 83

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Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passes away at 83

  • A recipient of the country’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, he was born Brij Mohan Nath Mishra on February 4, 1937, in a well-known family of Kathak dancers.
  • Birju Maharaj took the traditional Indian dance form to the world with his unique style.
  • His performing arts was an institution and an inspiration across the globe.

About Birju maharaj

  • Popularly known as Maharaj-Ji or Pandit-Ji by his disciples and legions of followers, he was a descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers.
  • Born into the house of renowned Kathak proponent Jagannath Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana, he got the training from his father and uncles Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj.
  • Pertinent to mention that Pandit-Ji gave his first performance at the age of seven and he went on to master the nuances of arguably one of the most difficult classical dances of India.
  • Known for his facial expressions and nimble feet movements, Pandit Birju Maharaj is considered the epitome of Kathak by many.
  • A familiar face of Indian Kathak dance all over the world, Pandit-Ji had performed in several countries and also associated with singing, having a grip over, Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Ghazals.

A celebrated teacher

  • Pandit Birju Maharaj started his career as a teacher when he was just 13 years old.
  • After a successful stint at Sangeet Bharati, where he began his career, he went on to teach at the famous Bharatiya Kala Kendra.
  • Soon, he was presented with the opportunity to head a team of teachers at the Kathak Kendra, a unit of Sangeet Natak Akademi.
  • After serving as the Head of Faculty at the Kathak Kendra for many years, he retired in 1998 at the age of 60.

List of accolades

  • His passion for the performing arts led him to be the recipient of several honours and accolades.
  • Pandit Birju Maharaj has received the coveted Padma Vibhushan in the year 1986.
  • He has been awarded the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
  • He has also been honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Soviet Land Nehru Award and Sangam Kala Award among other awards.
  • In 2002, he was honoured with the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskaar.
  • Pandit Birju Maharaj has also been conferred with honorary Doctorate degrees from Khairagarh University and Banaras Hindu University.
  • In 2012, he bagged the National Film Award for Best Choreography for the movie ‘Vishwaroopam.’
  • He also went on to win Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Choreographer for the same movie.
  • In 2016, he bagged the Filmfare Award for Best Choreography for the film 'Bajirao Mastani'.