Exclusive: ‘She used to dance with her soul; I was inspired by her fighting spirit and learned never to give up,’ says Sayantani Ghosh remembering life lessons by Saroj Khan

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Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan passed away in the wee hours of Friday, July 3, 2020. She had been admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital on June 20 after complaining of breathing issues. She suffered a cardiac arrest today. The celebrated choreographer was 71. Tributes are pouring in for Saroj Khan from Bollywood celebrities. We caught up with television actress Sayantani Ghosh for an exclusive chat about the impact Saroj Khan had on her and the important life lessons she taught her.

Talking about Saroj Khan, Sayantani said, “I was fortunate enough to work with Saroj ji on a Bengali dance reality show for a Bengali channel. The concept was Kolkata vs Bombay and she was one of the judges. Because the show was shot in Kolkata we had around three months of outdoor, lovely memories. All of us were stationed in Kolkata with long hours of shooting, but meeting the legend herself was another thing altogether and there was another show Nach Le with Saroj Khan. She was such a legend, just by looking at her you’d get mesmerized, she can breathe life into a song. I was fortunate enough to get a lot of praise and love from her. After one particular performance, she called my mom and asked her ‘kya kha ke paida kiya tha aapne isko?’. Whenever I messaged her I received a lot of love from her. It was not only about dance, even her life journey from a background dancer to a top-notch choreographer was so inspiring. She had that habit of giving signed notes so I collected a few that she had given me.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Was a dream come true n honor to have met u ,to dance in front of you .. spent a span of about 2/3 months with you as we did a reality show together ..will cherish all the moments we spent , all the love you gave me ,forever .. still remember u liked one of my dance performances so much that u asked my maa "Kya khake janam diya tha "?? ...I was ecstatic n how !!! learnt so much from you ... you inspired me n many to dance ,to dance from the soul ....,inspired us with your life's journey . witnessing u dance and express was beautiful ..those 100 rupee notes signed by you as a blessing are precious ,shall cherish them always .. Rest In Peace masterji ... #rip #ripsarojkhan .. ur a legend .. @sarojkhanofficial ....The world of dance won't the same without you but u will forever live in our hearts ♥..... #sarojkhan #masterji ♥

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Saroj Khan was an inspiration to many and had worked in over 200 films. Talking about the important lessons Sayantani learned from her, the actress shared, “There are two aspects one is a personal life and another is about dance. I am not a trained dancer, and while she was judging me whatever pointers she gave me that was the first technicalities I received. There is a technical dance angle that is required but the second is a dance from the soul so a lot of times Saroj ji was invited to dance onstage and it was not as if she was doing a lot of movements, but her face would lit up, she danced from her soul, woh apne rooh se dance karti thi. The happiness showed on her face. That is what I learned from her about craft ki jo bhi karo dil se karo. Her humble journey when she started so young and the way she paved the way for women when not a lot of inroads was given to women is very inspiring. I learned passion and the need to never give up, the fighting quality from her.”

Saroj Khan was a National Award winner and had many firsts to her name. Her demise has left a deep void in Bollywood and among her fans. RIP Saroj Khan.

(Transcribed by: Vandana Srivastawa) 

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