Filmmaker Nidhi Tuli: Saroj Khan was passionate, sexy, graceful
Nidhi had chronicled the choreographer’s life and career in her 2012 documentary The Saroj Khan Story
Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan died due to a cardiac arrest in Mumbai on Friday. She was 71.
In 2012, filmmaker Nidhi Tuli had chronicled Saroj’s life in her documentary, The Saroj Khan Story. The 57-minute film was co-produced by Films Division of India and the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT). It explores Saroj’s journey as a child artist and dancer, her relationship with her husband and teacher B Sohanlal, her expansive Bollywood career and her collaborations with Madhuri Dixit, Subhash Ghai, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and others. The film also traces her award-winning work on the 2007 Tamil period drama, Sringaram.
Over email, Nidhi shares that an incredibly hard life made Saroj into an enormous talent and a ‘survivor’.
“She was instinctive and had more than enough knowledge of her craft to make the dance work, whatever the song,” the filmmaker says. “She was passionate, sexy and yet graceful. Imagine pulling off Kaate nahin Katte in a children's film. Doing a song like, Dhak Dhak karne laga and still being able to deliver a Sringaram! The range she had was extraordinary.”
Nidhi recalls editing the documentary and being mesmerised by her songs, which they would rewatch everyday. She remembers visiting Saroj one day at her dance studio during rehearsals. “Her knees were paining a lot that day, so much so that she needed help getting up from the floor.” However, once the music started, Saroj was transformed. “She started to dance with the most charming expressions. That mad passionate burst of love for dancing defined her for me and that's what the film became... Her craft was exquisite! Her moves, more than perfect...yet she wore her genius really lightly.”
Nidhi describes the ace choreographer as inherently graceful. “She was naughty, sexy, fun and full of stories.” She was also a unique artistic force. “She had great respect for the director's vision and yet her mark on each of her songs is unmissable,” Nidhi says.