Tag Archive for 'B Sohan Lal'

Saroj Khan and her Legacy

The popular dance Choreographer of Indian film industry Saroj Khan passed away on 3 July 2020 at Mumbai . She has left behind a void very difficult to fill in . For more than 2 decades , she redefined the Hindi Movie dance sequences and created a niche for herself endearing to her numerous fans. For the first time, a woman choreographer broke the glass ceiling and crashed into the misogynist Hindi film industry and composed dance sequences for some super – hit and heroine centered movies like Mr India , Devdas and Kalank . Many actresses like the late Sridevi,Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai owe their career successes to Saroj Khan.

Saroj Khan was a protege of B Sohan Lal who was the undisputed king of Indian film choreography. She married Sohan Lal later at a very young age and subsequently divorced him. Saroj Khan had a career spanning more than 40 years and has produce more than 2000 dance numbers for Indian movies, mostly in Hindi language .

In the beginning of motion picture industry , both the hero and the heroine performed dances themselves . Soon , the need for a professional dance choreographer arose and mainly male dancers filled this role . The new crop of heroes and heroines required their help extensively and rehearsed repeatedly with many takes and retakes till acceptance by the main director of the movie.

The importance of the dance director will be evident from the following episode which I witnessed during a film shooting at the popular Malampuzha dam gardens near Palakkad , Kerala way back in the early sixties . I was an Engineering student then at a private college at Palakkad and some of us went to witness the shooting of a dance sequence at the Malampuzha gardens. Sunil Dutt and Vyjayantimala were shooting for the Hindi movie “Jhoola ” , a remake of the Tamil movie” Kairasi ” produced by Vasu Menon , a local producer from Palakkad settled at Chennai .

We saw a rehearsal where Sohan Lal , the dance director was enacting the role of the hero Sunil Dutt with Vyjayantimala who was a well known dancer and actress. Sunil Dutt was watching the steps which he had to perform during the actual take under the camera. The recorded song was being played to them. A difficult but hilarious scene ensued. Some of my friends from the college shouted and objected to a middle aged Sohan Lal dancing with Vyjayantimala . We wanted Sunil Dutt only to touch her and dance with her . The shouting went on for some time and finally Sunil Dutt came to us with folded hands and appealed to us to let Sohan Lal do his job . He said he is not a dancer and need coaching . Time is money in such situations and he wanted all of us to help the team achieve the desired results . Somehow his appeal had the desired effect and the rehearsal continued. We clapped for Sunil Dutt . Vyjayantimala was rather shy and remained quiet throughout the episode.