Today, we lost another legend from the film industry. Saroj Khan passed away due to cardiac arrest. She was one of the most prominent Indian dance choreographers in Bollywood. With a career spanning over 40 years, she has choreographed over 2000 songs. Rightly so, Saroj Khan is known as “The Mother of Dance & Choreography in India.”
One of her classics that will be forever etched in time is the song ‘Ek Do Teen‘ from the movie Tezaab. The song appears when the lead character Mohini (Madhuri Dixit) is forced by her wicked father Shyamlal (Anupam Kher) to dance in order to repay his debts. This is not so evidently seen as Mohini is dancing with a sparkle in her eyes and a wide smile. However, it’s a memorable performance that earned Saroj Khan her first Filmfare Award in 1989. Incidentally, this was the first win in the Best Choreography category.
Some interesting bits of trivia about this song taken from ‘The Saroj Khan Story’:
Director of the film N. Chandra said, “Till that time in Indian cinema it had never happened that a dance is being performed on stage, but the audience isn’t sitting because there are no chairs. I told them [Saroj Khan and her team] the crowd has gone wild, they are tearing their clothes with excitement, that’s the kind of wild dance I wanted… And when she [Saroj Khan] composed the dance for the song, she told me to see and finalize it before Madhuri could rehearse. And I went and when I saw the signature movement itself I was convinced that she has hit the right note.”
The rehearsals for this song went on for 16 days and the shoot went on for a week. Apparently, on the last day, they shot for the entire day and night.
In an interview, Madhuri Dixit talked about the song and how it was a turning point in her career, “The Ek Do Teen song turned the tables for me. Every producer wanted me to do a dance number in his or her film… We were shooting a song for Tridev. There were three actresses including Sonam and me. Sonam was a bigger star and so, she was made to stand in the center for half the song. But as soon as Ek Do Teen became a hit, the producer changed our positions. I was in the center.”
After ‘Ek Do Teen‘, Saroj Khan and Madhuri Dixit worked on super hit songs like ‘Humko Aaj Kal Hai‘, ‘Dhak Dhak Karne Laga‘, ‘Choli Ke Peeche‘, ‘Channe Ke Khet Mein‘, ‘Mera Piya Ghar Aaya‘, ‘Dola Re Dola‘ and ‘Maar Daala‘.
Even the story of how the lyrics came up is quite interesting. Here is what Javed Akhtar said in ‘Talking Songs Javed Akhtar in Conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir (2005)’, “The music director, Laxmikant, sang a tune to me and illustrated it through the dummy words ek do teen (1,2,3). So I brought home the tune on a cassette and suddenly had an idea. The next day, I went back to him and said, ‘I’m thinking of keeping the numbers in the lyrics.’ He almost panicked and said, Dekhiye, dekhiye, I think we’re going totally overboard. It’ll sound ridiculous.’ I said, ‘Leave it to me. I’ll write the song in a way that will justify the use of the numbers.’ So I wrote the song accordingly.”
Not just the music but also the choreography of this song is one that will stay with true Bollywood fans forever. RIP Saroj Khan, you were a true legend!