Madhuri Dixit's dance guru floored by Abu Dhabi students

Madhuri Dixits dance guru floored by Abu Dhabi students
Birju Maharaj performs during an event held by Rasamanjuri at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi - Pandit Birju Maharaj held two workshops for students


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 10 Dec 2016, 6:04 PM

Last updated: Sat 10 Dec 2016, 8:26 PM

Legendary Kathak exponent Brijmohan Mishra, who has choreographed actress Madhuri Dixit and Deepika Padukone, was overwhelmed by the reception and performance of students in Abu Dhabi.
Pandit Birju Maharaj, as he is popularly called, held two workshops for students from Rasamanjuri, run by dance master Kundan Mukherjee.
The winner of Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award, thanked parents for allowing their children practice classical dance form.
"It's great to see parents in Abu Dhabi let children follow classical music and dance forms. I say this because everywhere you see only Mumbaiya dance form - sit, stand, bend, lie down, jump and sit on shoulders."
The 78 year-old living legend mesmerised audience during a show held by Rasamanjuri at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi on Friday night.
Also, students from Rasamanjuri performed on the night and the Maharaj was in awe of Kundan Mukherjee's disciples.
"We had great workshops. I will be back for a longer version. These are good students and learned steps very fast. I have a legacy of seven generations. I am trying to create as many dancers like me."
Birju is at home when in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. "I started tour from 1964. In the US and Europe they could only appreciate the speed and the footwork. I made them understand the story of Lord Krishna. Here in Abu Dhabi, people understand dance forms."
The stunning fan following floored the dance guru. "The love keeps growing over the years," he said as people kept pouring into his hotel room for photos and selfies.
He worked with Satyajit Ray in Shatranj ke Khiladi, Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Devdas and Bajirao Mastani. Also he choreographed Kathak dance sequences in Dedh Ishqiya and Umrao Jaan. He won National Film Award for Best Choreography in Kamal Haasan-starrer Vishwaroopam.
Asked as to why he hasn't engaged more with the Hindi film industry, he said: "Whenever I am to choreograph, I ask for good lyrics. I can't work on vulgur lines. I am very selective. I need nice lyrics. The actress should wear decent clothes and the situation too. Yesteryears we had Meena Kumari, Madhubala and Waheeda Rehman danced in decent costumes unlike now when you have actress wear something here and there. When I get such actresses I simply refuse."

Making a comparison between New Age actors and yesteryear stars, he said: "Earlier there were so many actresses - Hema Malini, Vyjayanthimala, Ragini and Padmini, who knew classical dance. Now things have changed. I remember a song - Jalte Hain Jiske Liye from Sujata. Sunil Dutt sings over phone and Nutan listens. It was shot in one place and there were no one else in the frame but now I find 500 junior dancers jumping and running around as support cast. But things will change as soon people will realise the good old dance forms should make a comeback."
Asked about item song, he smirks: "I am surprised by item songs. It seems like a competition in shaking body. There is no song composition and everything is a five-minute item number."
Which actor has impressed you the most?
"Madhuri Dixit has the best expressions, body movements and looks. She is very good."
On a tiring exercise, he said: "I and (his senior disciple) Saswati Sen tried a lot with Deepika Padukone. We gave a lot of time on her. After lots of shot then we could see some colour. Finally, result was good."
And he won the Filmfare Award for Best Choreography for Mohe Rang Do Laal with Deepika Padukone in film Bajirao Mastani.
How do you keep going at this age?
"We are story tellers. I want to spread the message of peace and love through my performances. I travel around the world because of my ghungroo (musical anklet tied to feet of dancers). I love to dance and am always thinking about Lord Krishna. Even as I age, the Krishna inside me will keep me young. Lord likes my body. He enters me when I am on stage."
Birju's sons, daughters, grand daughters are associated in some or the other form with dance.
He travels back to India on Saturday night. And next workshop will be in Bangladesh.
Rasamanjuri's Kundan Mukherjee is delighted with his guru coming over for a two-day workshop.
"Next time, I will get him for more days. The students too were very excited. I thank ISC for presenting us with such a big platform."
One of his disciples Aparna Vinod of Abu Dhabi Indian School was ecstatic. "This is a dream come true moment. I couldn't have asked for more. Maharaj is the same person who has moulded Madhuri and Deepika. I am super excited," the Grade VIII student said.

Rasamanjuri’s Kundan Mukherjee with his students.
Rasamanjuri’s Kundan Mukherjee with his students.

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