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Pandit Birju Maharaj, legendary Kathak dancer, dies at 83

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Brijmohan Mishra aka Pandit Birju Maharaj

Strong points

  • Birju Maharaj has died of a heart attack
  • Brijmohan Mishra, affectionately called Pandit-ji or Maharaj-ji by his students
  • Birju Maharaj was the son of Lucknow gharana exponent

Legendary Kathak dancer, Pandit Birju Maharaj dies after suffering a heart attack. He was 83 years old. He was at home in Delhi. Brijmohan Mishra, affectionately called Pandit-ji or Maharaj-ji by his students and followers, he was one of India’s best-known artists. He received the country’s second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan. Maharaj ji, as he was popularly known, was said to have been playing with his grandsons when his health unexpectedly deteriorated, forcing him to be rushed to hospital, where he died of a seizure. cardiac. He died surrounded by his family and his disciples.

They were playing ‘antakshari’ after dinner when he suddenly fell ill, Ragini Maharaj told PTI.

He is survived by five children, three daughters and two sons and five grandchildren.

He suffered from kidney disease and had been on dialysis for a month due to high diabetes. He probably died of cardiac arrest, his granddaughter said.

“He was with us when it happened. He had dinner and we were playing ‘antakshari’ because he liked old music. He was lying down…and suddenly his breathing became irregular. We think it was a cardiac arrest as he was also a heart It happened between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m. It must have lasted about a minute We rushed to the hospital but unfortunately we could not save him He died before he got to the hospital,” Ragini said.

Ragini, herself a kathak dancer, said the only consolation for the family is that he didn’t suffer too much in his final moments.

“Two of his disciples and his two granddaughters, my younger sister Yasyashashwini and I, were with him when it happened.
He was laughing and smiling in his final moments,” she said.

Brijmohan Mishra popularly known as Pandit Birju Maharaj was from the Lucknow Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Kathak dance in India. He was a descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers. His two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, and his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj are also patrons of the estate. Birju Maharaj was also known for classical Hindustani music and as a singer.

He gave his first recital at the age of seven. On May 20, 1947, his father died when he was nine years old. Maharaj started teaching dance at the age of thirteen, at Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi. He then taught at Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi, and at Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) where he served as head of faculty and principal, retiring in 1998. He composed music and sang for two dances . sequences in Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke Khilari and choreographed the song Kaahe Chhed Mohe from the 2002 film version of the short story Devdas.