Mumbai: Bollywood’s first female choreographer Saroj Khan, whose sizzling dance routines breathed life into hundreds of films, died Friday, triggering further heartbreak in an industry already reeling from a string of recent deaths.
Khan choreographed more than 2,000 numbers during a 40-year career that saw her work with superstars like Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor to create dazzling song-and-dance routines that are a distinctive feature of Hindi films.
A spokeswoman for Guru Nanak hospital in Mumbai said that Khan, 71, was admitted to the facility on Thursday evening after complaining of respiratory problems.
She “was declared dead at approximately 2:30 am” after suffering cardiac arrest, the spokeswoman said.
Born Nirmala Nagpal, she joined the industry as a child actor aged just three but soon took to dancing instead, starting out as a backup dancer before becoming an assistant choreographer at 13.
She reportedly changed her name to Saroj to avoid the censure of conservative relatives who did not approve of her career choice.
She also fell in love with B. Sohanlal, her much older mentor who was a married father of four.
Stung by his refusal to leave his first wife, Khan, who had converted to Islam, became a single mother to their two children while still in her teens and walked out of the relationship to start working on her own.