Terence Lewis Writes a Heartfelt Note Remembering Saroj Khan
Terence Lewis recalls Saroj Khan’s legacy and the time she made him touch her feet in banter.
The ‘Master Ji’ behind iconic Bollywood dance numbers, Saroj Khan passed away on 3 July due to cardiac arrest. Bollywood celebrities took to social media to remember the choreographer and express grief over the demise.
Choreographer Terence Lewis took to social media to share memories with Saroj Khan from the past.
He wrote, "An Iron Lady who was not afraid to call a spade a spade! She was the only choreographer in the 80's, 90's & early 2000's, where both the Producers and the superstars, revered & feared her, with due respect! I personally admired her grasp in being able to capture the mood of the music and her ability to interpret lyrics through dance and movement, transforming music and poetry into a heightened visual art! She was truly the Fosse of Bollywood! Both embodied the philosophy that 'less is more' and her strongest suit was her ability to extract from her artist, their most beautiful version of themselves and make them caress the lens with subtle intimacy, giving the audience an immersive experience. She truly set gold standards in choreography for her genre!"
"Sarojji was also the first 'Dance Masterji' who worked so hard with her craft that industry prior to 1988, hadn't even recognised it as a craft, till she came along and made them stand up on their feet ( literally n figuratively ) and take notice, giving her and the choreography department, due recognition in cinema!," he writes.
Terence also wrote about some of Saroj Khan's popular songs. "The song was Ek Do Teen and it was the first time ever, Filmfare instated an award for choreographers and their contribution to cinema, that had so long, gone unnoticed ! Such was the power of her work!," he wrote.
Terence also wrote about the equation he shared with her. "At a personal level, we shared a relationship of respect and her wit and candour was not everyone's cup of tea but I was besotted by her body of work and the power she exuded, so would take her punches with a pinch of salt! She was for me the quintessential Masterji & that's why "Unke Liye Saath Khoon Maaf"," he writes.
"When we met on the sets of judging a show of which she was the sole Choreographer in the earlier seasons , and I was added-on because of my recent success in Dance India Dance, she became 'Masterji' in her characteristic way...admonishing & patronising...but you see, I secretly loved her work and because she was so senior, I never took offence. So besotted was I, that I would enjoy her rebukes... so smitten was I, that if she told me to get down on my knees and kiss her feet, I would and that's asking way too much from me cause I rarely indulge in such heightened emotions! And yes I have to admit that if there is one person whose feet I have touched with genuine respect, then it would be her's only. You see, I come from a school of thought which has a very different take on respect n tokenism but we all have exceptions & Sarojji was that 'only' exception!," he recalls.
"It took 8 episodes of shooting with me, to thaw her down cause she didn't think I was a match to her illustrious career & rightly so! She had worked 30 years to reach there & here I was, seated next to her, a young man who had never assisted any choreographer in his life, was from 'outside' the industry with just few films to his credit, a kid who had navigated nepotism with opportunism, lucked out with a popular show Dance India Dance and now was given the privilege of being on a panel with her! It didn't sit right!," he wrote.Our interactions had a clear line of control! She was the Boss lady and I had only a certain degree of accessibility to her. She was intrigued by my lack of self respect when it came to her rancour and she couldn't fathom my affection for her old-school ways of yielding power, given that I had established myself sufficiently from the last time I met her. I loved her eccentricities & would amuse her with my ability to laugh at myself.
She told me once "I'm glad you stuck to judging shows on TV & teaching dance... your comments are on point...TV suits you... Films is not for you! " And that was typically Sarojji giving you a back handed compliment with thoda 'namak maarke ' : a phrase she loved to use to describe actresses who lacked sodium in their dancing diet !
“Our interactions had a clear line of control! She was the Boss lady and I had only a certain degree of accessibility to her. She was intrigued by my lack of self respect when it came to her rancour and she couldn’t fathom my affection for her old-school ways of yielding power, given that I had established myself sufficiently from the last time I met her,” Terence recalls.
"So Let's celebrate her art, her spirit & let's keep her legacy alive by remembering the contribution she made, creating a paradigm shift in cinema for Indian film choreographers! Lets celebrate the hands that rock the cradle of many stars & honour her craft by crediting her with the Title : 'The Premier Doyen Of the Film Choreography Industry'. n my view, her epitaph would read "Here is an amazing woman who lived, loved, laboured n nurtured... Unabashed...Unapologetic!" There will never be another Masterji! An era comes to pass!," writes Terence Lewis.
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