Birju Maharaj dead: Legend of Indian classical dance dies aged 83

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Indian classical dancer Pandit Birju Maharaj died of a heart attack at the age of 83.

According to reports, the Kathak maestro was playing with his grandsons on Sunday (16 January) at his home in Delhi when his health deteriorated.

After being taken to the hospital, he was declared dead.

“He had his dinner and we were playing antakshari (a sing-along game) because he loved old music,” Birju Maharaj’s granddaughter Ragini told the Press Trust of India.

“He was lying down... and suddenly his breathing became uneven. We think it was cardiac arrest as he was also a heart patient.”

“Two of his disciples and his two granddaughters, my younger sister Yasyashashwini and me, were with him when this happened. He was laughing and smiling in his last moments,” Ragini added.

Birju Maharaj (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Birju Maharaj (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Birju Maharaj had been suffering from a kidney ailment and was under dialysis treatment.

The classical dancer was born in 1938 to a family of Kathak devotees and performers.

Kathak is a type of northern Indian classical dance, with alternating passages of mime and dancing.

His uncles — Lachchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj — were also committed to Kathak, and were part of many Bollywood films of that era.

Birju Maraj himself contributed greatly to Indian cinema and introduced Kathak as a dance form to the world.

He choreographed some of the most famous dance numbers in hit Bollywood films such as Dedh Ishqiya, and Devdas.

Actor Deepika Padukone took Kathak dance lessons from Birju Maharaj for her song “Mohe Rang Do Laal” in the award-winning film Bajirao Mastani. The late dancer won a Filmfare Award for Best Choreography for this song.

Many people, including India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, paid tribute to him.

“Deeply saddened by the demise of Pandit Birju Maharaj, who gave Indian dance art form a special recognition across the world,” PM Modi wrote in Hindi. “His passing is an irreparable loss to the entire art world. My condolences to his family and fans in this hour of grief.”

Famous Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar added: “Pandit Birju Maharaj took Kathak from India to the world and inspired several people to take up the art.”

“I am saddened to hear about his demise. He will continue to live through his art & artists inspired by him. Deepest condolences to his family & Kathak lovers across the world.”

Indian actor Kajol wrote: “Pandit Birju Maharaj was a legend and an absolute wonder to watch... The world lost something priceless today. Rest In Peace, my deepest condolences to his family.”

Indian film director Anil Sharma added: “Saddened to hear the passing away of one of India’s supreme talents Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj ji… I was fortunate to work with the Kathak maestro in Gadar… we will all miss the legend.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting