Mumbai: Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj, the legendary Kathak exponent of India, passed away on Monday morning after a cardiac arrest. He was 83. He breathed his last at Saket Hospital in Delhi.
His grandson Swaransh Mishra wrote, “Very sad to announce.. Pt birju maharaj ji.. my nana ji is no more.”
Kathak in his DNA
Birju Maharaj was from Lucknow’s Kalka Bindadin Gharana. The artiste was born on February 4,1938. Kathak was in his blood. His father Pandit Acchan Maharaj and uncles Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj were all Kathan dancers.
He also practised Hindustani classical music.
He headed Kathak Kendra in Delhi before opening his own dance school Kalashram in Delhi.
Padma Vibhushan in 1986
Birju Maharaj won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1964. He was honoured with Padma Vibhushan in 1986. He also won Kalidas Samman, National Nritya Shiromani Award, Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award etc.
The most recent of awards was the Filmare Award for Best Choreography for the song ‘Mohe Rang Do Laal’ in the Deepika-Ranveer-Priyanka starrer Bajirao Mastani in 2016.
Condolence messages pour in
Several condolence messages began to pour in on social media.
President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted, “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.”
Vice-president Venkaiah Naidu tweeted, “Deeply saddened by the passing away of the legendary Kathak dancer, Pandit Birju Maharaj. The world renowned Kathak exponent with his unique style was an institution and an inspiration across the globe. His death is a huge loss to the world of performing arts.”
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