Birth And Early Life:
Pandit Birju Maharaj was born on February 4, 1937, in India. Belonging to the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers, he was trained by his father, Ustad Achan Maharaj. He was also impressed by his uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj.
A Glimpse to his Work:
He was an Indian dancer, musician, singer, and narrator of the Lucknow “Kalka-Bandin” family of Kathak dances in India. He was one of the famous artists of India. His disciples and followers affectionately called him Pandit Ji or Maharaj Ji.
He received India’s second-biggest civilian award of Padma Bhushan in 1986.
He was also an excellent singer, well-versed in Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan, and Ghazal. An expert storyteller, he linked his performances to the events of his life, captivating the audience. At the same time, due to his keen observation, he always said something about everyday events, entertaining the people around him with realistic imitations and clear statements.
Pandit Birju Maharaj Was Epitome of Dancing:
As an accomplished teacher and a brilliant actor, he taught at the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and the Sangeet Natak Academy Kathak Centre, from where he retired in 1998. Later, he started his dance school, Klasherm, and delighted parents who wanted their children to become dancers.
Legendary Performance By Legend:
Pandit Birju exemplified dance in every nook and cranny of his being. Kathak Doin Burj Mohan Nath Mishra, commonly known as Pandit Burju Maharaj, an expert of the Kalka-Bindadin family of Lucknow and the receiver of Padma Bhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor, breathed his last on Monday. But the life and energy that he incorporated into the dance form that came to her as a genetic inheritance will make Tapasya’s life unparalleled for decades to come. Live wire on stage, he would send the audience into a frenzy with his stunning footwork, the gleam in his eyes, and the incredible mobile face photography.
Dance is the poetry of the feet, “said John Dryden.” Only Burju Maharaj was an expert in poetry, and he brought a book of a poetic composition entitled Burj Shyam Kahe. Dancer, painter, poet, singer, and pictures, he felt at home in all art forms and called them his ‘relatives’. Not surprisingly, he was in perfect harmony with other artists, whether he was a Flemish dancer or a ghazal singer. Thumri Queen Girija Devi Singh or Table Master Zakir Hussain. He may have trained many superstars like Madhuri Dixit and Deepika Padukone for dance choreographies, but he will always be the undisputed superstar of Kathak.
Legend Never Dies:
Maharaj was married and had five children. Maharaj had diabetes and kidney disease, and he underwent dialysis. He died of a heart attack at his residence in Delhi on January 17, 2022, less than a month before his 85th birthday.
The crowd of his fans will forever remember his indifference and his performance, which became a master class in acting on stage. He must have understood that female dancers are rich in natural beauty and male dancers have to work twice as hard to get this grace. But he denied gender binary, fascinated everyone because he became Radha on stage, which flowed smoothly and easily. “Be a student till your last breath”, was his strong desire. But his superb dance style, which embraces tradition and innovation alike, will be a referral point for generations to come.