With the passing of Saroj Khan, Bollywood lost a doyenne who had steered the Hindi film dance in a new direction and enriched it by weaving in elements of classical dance forms. While we have witnessed her magic on screen, little is known of the woman who — with grit and grace — carved her own identity in the male-dominated industry of the ’70s and went on to reign supreme in her field.
Talking to mid-day, her daughter Sukaina Khan reveals that choreographer-director Remo D’Souza had approached the veteran for a biopic. “A few people were in talks with my mother to make her biopic. But, she used to dismiss the idea, saying, ‘Mere baare mein kya jaanna hai logon ko?’ However, during her last days, she had said Remo D’Souza was keen on telling her story. She thought Remo, being a dancer himself, would understand her journey, and hence, was the perfect person to helm the project,” she says.
Having started out as a child actor, Khan served as an assistant choreographer to B Sohanlal before developing her unique style as a dance director. She dominated Bollywood through the ’80s and ’90s, collaborating with actor-muse Madhuri Dixit-Nene to give Hindi cinema some of its most spectacular songs. “The idea is to go beyond her choreography. I want people to know her journey as a fighter,” adds Sukaina.
D’Souza reveals that he had broached the subject of a biopic while collaborating with Khan on her swansong, Tabah ho gaye (Kalank, 2019). “In response, she had said, ‘You should make it.’ I promised her that I would visit her to gather information about her childhood and early days. But, I didn’t pursue it then as I was busy with my film.”
With his Masterji gone, the Street Dancer 3D maker says he is keen to develop it as a tribute to her. “I should be the one making the film as she trusted me with it. I will take the discussion ahead with her daughter.”