In a lengthy tribute to Pandit Birju Maharaj on Twitter, dance guru and Rajya Sabha MP Sonal Mansingh mourned the passing away of a colossus whom she described as “a complete artist and Icon of Kathak dance”.
The acclaimed exponent of the Odissi and Bharatanatyam dance forms said in her (Sonal Mansingh) tweet: “With his passing away curtain falls on an era of great art. Words fall short to describe his multi-faceted personality, his absolute passion for performing, teaching, painting, singing and creating new works is unparalleled.”
Sonal Mansingh concluded by saying: “There never was or will be another like him (Pandit Birju Maharaj). It’s a personal loss to me. I shall cherish his deep affection and friendship of which he gave unstintingly. May his legacy continue to illuminate the world of Art.”
Pandit Birju Maharaj, who had been diagnosed with kidney disease a month ago and put on dialysis, died at his home in Delhi late on Sunday. He was 83.
Maharaj Ji, as he was popularly known, was said to be playing with his grandsons when his health unexpectedly deteriorated, requiring him to be rushed to the hospital, where he died of a heart attack.
A recipient of the country’s second-highest civilian honor, Padma Vibhushan, Maharaj ji was also a lifelong Kathak guru as well as a talented Hindustani classical singer and percussionist.
Pandit Birju Maharaj will be remembered by cinema buffs for the two-period dance sequences in Satyajit Ray’s historical drama ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ (for which he sang as well) and for the ‘Kaahe Chhed Mohe’ track picturised on Madhuri Dixit in the 2002 version of ‘Devdas‘.