Agartala, September 08:


A dance program was held in Agartala to commemorate the legendary Kathak Dance Emperor Pandit Birju Maharaj. Program titled "Guru Dhyan" was held in the memory of Birju Maharaj at Rabindra Bhavan in Agartala on Wednesday. In the world of dance, Birju Maharaj is not just a name, he is a bright star in a vast space. Birju Maharaj is the only son and disciple of Sri Achan Maharaj. Apart from presenting the dance in many countries, he has trained many artistes of the subcontinent. Moreover, he was unparalleled in the practice of Hindustani classical music. Besides, he could sing songs of genres like thumri, dadra, ghazal, bhajan etc. He performed his first dance at the age of seven. Not only a dancer, Birju Maharaj is also a mystic poet and orator. He is famous all over the world including India for the prevalence and practice of a special genre of Kathak called 'Kalka-Bindadin' based in Lucknow. Birju Maharaj studied dance with his uncle Shambhu Maharaj at the 'Bharatiya Kala Kendra' and the 'Kathak Kendra' in New Delhi. He was working as the head of 'Kathak Kendra' till 1998. After retiring from this post, Birju Maharaj opened his own dance school called 'Kalashram'. His name is also well known in western countries.


Birju Maharaj was born on February 4, 1938 in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to a family of traditional Kathak dancers. His father Jagannath Maharaj and two uncles Shambhu Maharaj and Lacchu Maharaj are each famous Kathak dancers. His mother's name is Ammaji Maharaj. His father is known to Indians as Achan Maharaj who is very proficient in Lucknow Gharana dance. He used to perform dances in the royal court of Raigarh Estate. Birju Maharaj's original name was Brijmohan Mishra. He was attracted to dance at a very young age. Birju Maharaj used to go all over India with his father to perform dances at various music conferences. His father was his role model in the world of dance.


Birju Maharaj has choreographed many Hindi films in Bollywood. He wrote a song for Satyajit Ray's 'Shataranj Ki Khiladi' and also sang in two dance scenes. Birju Maharaj has also choreographed Kathak dance in films like 'Dedh Iskia', 'Bajirao Mastani', 'Umrao Jaan' etc. In 2002, he choreographed the dance scene for the song 'Kahe Chher Mohe' in a Hindi film based on Saratchandra's novel 'Devdas'. Birju Maharaj also choreographed the song 'Unnai Kannatha Naan' in the 2013 South Indian film 'Vishwaroopam' starring Kamal Haasan. In 1964, Birju Maharaj received Sangeet Nataka Academy Award. In 1986, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. After that he won Kalidas Samman in 1987 and Lata Mangeshkar Award in 2002. Indira Kala Sangeet University and Banaras Hindu University conferred honorary doctorate degrees on Birju Maharaj. Moreover, he has won Sangram Kala Award, Bharat Muni Award, Andhra Ratna, Dance Vilas Award, Soviet Land Nehru Award, National Dance Shiromani Award, Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award. In 2012, he received the 'National Film Award for Best Choreography' for the choreography of Vishwarupam. In 2016, Birju Maharaj won the Filmfare Award for the choreography of the film 'Bajirao Mastani'. 


The famous sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar saw his dance and said, 'You are Lay's puppet'! The 'Maharaja' of Kathak has left us all at the age of 83. Legendary artist Pandit Birju Maharaj passed away a few days ago due to heart disease.



Dr. Debjyoti Laskar's Gurukul Nritya Kalashram organized a program titled "Guru Dhyan" in Agartala on Wednesday in memory of Pt. Birju Maharaj Ji. On this occasion, Gurukul students paid their respects to Maharaj Ji through kathak dance. The artists invited on this occasion were Pandit Birju Maharaj's two disciples Luna Poddar and Shaswati Sen. Dr. Debjyoti Laskar had a very sweet relationship with Birju Maharaj. He learned kathak dance from Maharaj. Debajyoti recalled, once Maharaj expressed his desire to wear a lungi and wanted a cheap radio. In fact, he was a wonderful person. There is no comparison. We lost our guardian. 


Pandit Birju Maharaj was truly a very good hearted person. Despite possessing so many qualities, there was no pride in him. This is how Pandit Birju Maharaj will live among us forever.