Manisha Swain

New Delhi, 17th January 2022: Legendary Kathak dancer Pandit Birju Maharaj died in his home in Delhi in the early hours of Monday, January 17, said his granddaughter. He would have been 84 years old next month.

Maharaj Ji, as he was popularly known, died surrounded by his family and disciples. Ragini Maharaj told PTI.

“He was with us when this happened. He had his dinner and we were playing ‘antakshari’ because he loved old music. He was lying down… and suddenly his breathing became uneven. We think it was cardiac arrest as he was also a heart patient.”

“This happened between 12.15 and 12.30 a.m. It must have been just a minute or so. We rushed to the hospital but unfortunately, we could not save him. He died before reaching the hospital,” said Ragini Maharaj.

The Kathak maestro, one of India’s most loved and finest artists, was an exponent of the Lucknow “Kalka-Bindadin” Gharana of Kathak dance in India. He was a descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers.

Pandit-Ji was not only a splendid kathak dancer but also a skilful Hindustani classical singer and percussionist.

Maharaj-Ji was a recipient of Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award. He also won the National Award for choreographing ‘Unnai Kaanadhu Naan’ in Kamal Haasan’s multi-lingual film ‘Vishwaroopam’ and the Filmfare Awards for ‘Mohe Rang Do Laal’ from Bajirao Mastani, etc.