Saroj Khan, choreographer of over 2,000 Bollywood songs, passes away

Saroj Khan got her break in 1974 with ‘Geeta Mera Naam’ (Geeta Is My Name), becoming the first female choreographer in Bollywood. (AP)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Saroj Khan, choreographer of over 2,000 Bollywood songs, passes away

  • Saroj Khan choreographed more than 2,000 numbers during a 40-year career
  • She got her break in 1974 with ‘Geeta Mera Naam’, becoming the first female choreographer in Bollywood

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 numbers that are a distinctive feature of Hindi films.
A spokeswoman for Guru Nanak hospital 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.
She got her break in 1974 with “Geeta Mera Naam” (“Geeta Is My Name”), becoming the first female choreographer in Bollywood.
She had no formal training in classical dance, but learnt on the job and hit the big time in the 1980s when her collaborations with two of Bollywood’s top stars, Dixit and Sridevi, became chart-toppers.
The 1988 number “Ek Do Teen” (“One Two Three”), choreographed by Khan, made Dixit a star overnight, and the actress was among the first to pay tribute to the woman she called her teacher.
“I’m devastated by the loss of my friend and guru, Saroj Khan. Will always be grateful for her work in helping me reach my full potential in dance. The world has lost an amazingly talented person,” Dixit tweeted.
“She made dance look easy almost like anybody can dance, a huge loss for the industry,” tweeted superstar Akshay Kumar.
Khan dominated Bollywood’s dance floors over the next decade, churning out hits such as 1987’s “Hawa Hawaii,” 1993’s “Choli ke Peeche” (“Behind the Blouse”) and 2002’s “Dola re Dola” (“I Swayed”).
She won three National Awards for her choreography in the Bollywood movies “Devdas” and “Jab We Met” (“When We Met”) and for the Tamil film “Sringaram: Dance of Love.”
Her last film was 2019’s “Kalank” (“Blemish”) starring Dixit.
She was also a popular presence on television, hosting an instructional dance show called “Nachle Ve” (“Dance”) from 2008 to 2011.
In her introduction to the program, she said: “Dance is my life. If there is no dance, there is no Saroj Khan.”
Last month Bollywood was rocked by the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput aged just 34. Police said he had taken his own life.
In April two luminaries, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, died within days of each other.
Wajid Khan, one of the top composers of Bollywood dance numbers, died at 42 from coronavirus at the end of May. Not long afterwards celebrated filmmaker Basu Chatterjee passed away aged 90.


Tired of Zoom calls? Company offers at-home hologram machines

Updated 07 August 2020

Tired of Zoom calls? Company offers at-home hologram machines

  • ‘We say if you can’t be there, you can beam there’
  • Device made by PORTL lets users talk in real time with a life-sized hologram of another person
LOS ANGELES: Looking for a new way to communicate during the pandemic? A Los Angeles company has created phone booth-sized machines to beam live holograms into your living room.
The device made by PORTL Inc. lets users talk in real time with a life-sized hologram of another person.
The machines also can be equipped with technology to enable interaction with recorded holograms of historical figures or relatives who have passed away.
Each PORTL device is seven feet (2.1m) tall, five feet (1.5m) wide and two feet (0.6m) deep, and can be plugged into a standard wall outlet. Anyone with a camera and a white background can send a hologram to the machine in what Chief Executive David Nussbaum calls “holoportation.”
“We say if you can’t be there, you can beam there,” said Nussbaum, who previously worked at a company that developed a hologram of Ronald Reagan for the former president’s library and digitally resurrected rapper Tupac Shakur.
“We are able to connect military families that haven’t seen each other in months, people from opposite coasts,” or anyone who is social distancing to fight the coronavirus, Nussbaum added.
Prices for the machine start at $60,000, a cost that Nussbaum expects will drop over the next three to five years. The company also plans a smaller tabletop device with a lower price tag early next year.
The devices can be equipped with artificial intelligence technology from Los Angeles-based company StoryFile to produce hologram recordings that can be archived. Adding that to the current device brings the cost to at least $85,000.
The companies are promoting to museums, which could let visitors question a hologram of a historical figure, and to families to record information for future generations.
People can feel like they are having a conversation with a recorded hologram, said StoryFile Chief Executive Heather Smith.
“(You) feel their presence, see their body language, see all their non-verbal cues,” she said. “You feel like you’ve actually talked to that individual even though they were not there.”