By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:
The legendary choreographer, Saroj Khan is no longer with us but will always be remembered as one of the greatest choreographers in this country. It was on July 3, 2020, when she bid farewell to this world and went to her heavenly abode due to a cardiac arrest. Not only was she an exceptional choreographer, but Masterji (Saroj Khan’s nickname) was undoubtedly one of the most respected and loved choreographers in the film industry.
The last song that Saroj Khan had choreographed was Tabah Ho Gaye from Karan Johar’s film, Kalank, that had featured her favourite, Madhuri Dixit Nene. Born on November 22, 1948, Saroj Khan was best known for her excellence in the dance form, Mujra. From Rekha to Kareena Kapoor Khan, the late choreographer had worked with so many actresses of different generations, which speaks volumes about her inspiring career.
However, not everyone is aware of the fact that even a person like Saroj Khan had said something back in April 2018 that is still regarded as the only black spot in her illustrious legacy. So without further ado, let’s get straight into it!
According to a report in ANI, at a press conference in Mumbai, a reporter had asked ace choreographer, Saroj Khan about her views on the practice of casting couch in the film industry. In response to the question, Saroj Khan gave a statement that is still regarded as one of the most controversial moments of her illustrious career. The choreographer explained why the casting couch is better than rape and admitted that the former practice has been going on in the film industry for a very long time. Saroj Khan also added that even Government officials also take advantage of a girl, but no one asks them questions. She had said:
"Yeh (casting couch) chala aa raha hai Baba azam ke zamaane se. Har ladki ke upar koi na koi haath saaf karne ki koshish karta hai. Govt ke log bhi karte hain. Tum film industry ke peeche kyun pade ho? Woh kam se kam roti toh deti hai. Rape karke chhod toh nahi deti."
Going further in the press conference, Saroj Khan had also shared her views on how any actress can avoid facing the process of casting couch in Bollywood. The choreographer explained that if an actress or model has the art and skills in her, then she doesn’t need to sell herself in order to get a break for a role. At the end of her statement, Saroj Khan also told everyone not to say anything about the film industry. She had stated:
"Yeh ladki ke upar hai ki tum kya karna chahti ho. Tum uske haath mein nahi aana chahti ho toh nahi aaogi. Tumhare paas art hai toh tum kyun bechoge apne aap ko? Film industry ko kuch mat kehna, woh humaara mai-baap hai."
After Saroj Khan's statement had gone live in public, many celebrities had condemned the late choreographer’s take on the casting couch in the film industry. While so many actresses grilled the veteran dancer for calling the casting couch better than rape, many people told Saroj Khan to stop apologising for her no-nonsense statement. However, there were some celebrities, who were still in her support, and one such celebrity was Richa Chadha, who felt that people had created a mountain of a molehill. She extended her support for Saroj Khan and had said in an interview with a leading news portal. Richa had said:
"I think people are making mountain of molehill. There’s narrative that people in Bollywood are the worst and indulge in malpractices which isn’t the case. She meant to say it takes place in all industries, why is Bollywood being singled out?"
Despite getting support from many celebrities, Saroj Khan apologised to everyone in an interview with CNN News 18. The veteran choreographer had said, "I apologise for my statement", and soon many people forgave her for accepting her mistake in public.