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'.