The dance master Pandit Birju Maharaj was born on 4th Feb 1938. His birth name was Brijmohan Nath Mishra. Born in the family of The Kathak exponent, Jagannath Mishra, Birju was destined to follow in the footsteps of his father.
Being a brilliant toddler, he began reciting complex tihais and tukras at a very young age. His father saw his passion and started training him. Later, Birju began performing alongside his father by accompanying him to musical performances all over India.
Jagannath Mishra’s death came as a shock to Birju when he was just nine years old.
However, he continued to receive training from his two uncles: Shambhu Maharaj and Lacchu Maharaj.
He began teaching at the Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi at a very tender age of thirteen. After which, he taught at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra and the Kathak Kendra as a Head of Faculty till 1998.
After his retirement in 1998, he opened a Dance School in Delhi- Kalashram.
Apart from being a dancer, Birju Maharaj was a composer, singer, exponent of Lucknow ‘Kalka Bindadin’ Gharana of Kathak dance in India.
He composed music and two dance sequences in Satyajit Ray’s film – Shatranj Ke Khilari.
Along with this, he choreographed Kaahe Chhed Mohe song from the 2002 film version of Devdas and also composed Kathak dance sequences in recent movies like Dedh Ishqiya, Umrao Jaan, and Bajirao Mastani.
In addition to being a talented dancer, composer, and choreographer, he also practiced Hindustani Classical Music and was a vocalist.
Accomplishments And Achievements:
- Birju Ji was honored with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1964.
- In 1986, he was bestowed with Padma Vibhushan and Nritya Choodamani Award by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.
- In 1987, he received Kalidas Samman and Lata Mangeshkar Puraskar in 2002.
Pandit Birju Maharaj was also the recipient of the following Awards:
- Honorary doctorate from Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya
- Honorary doctorate from Banaras Hindu University
- Sangam Kala Award
- Bharat Muni Sammaan
- Andhra Ratna
- Nritya Vilas Award
- Adharshila Shikhar Samman
- Soviet Land Nehru Award
- National Nritya Shiromani Award
- Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award
He also earned many Film Fare Awards:
- In 2012, he received National Film Award for Best Choreography for Unnai Kaanaathu (Vishwaroopam)
- Later in 2016, he became the recipient of the Filmfare Award for Best Choreography for Mohe Rang Do Laal (Bajirao Mastani)
His death this year is a huge loss and will be mourned till eternity.