Pandit Birju Maharaj was born on February 4, 1937. He is a legendary Kathak dancer. He hails from a family of dance masters of the Lucknow gharana. His uncles namely Shambu and Lacchu Maharaj, and his father Acchan Maharaj were all well-known Kathak dancers. Pandit Birju Maharaj is also an accomplished vocalist.
Pandit Birju Maharaj alias Brij Mohan Nath Mishra underwent training in Kathak through his father, Achchan Maharaj, and uncles Lacchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj. Birju Maharaj gave his first performance at the young age of seven at Lucknow.
He has a multi-talented personality as a superb musician, percussionist, composer, teacher, director, choreographer, and poet. He has composed many dance dramas like ‘Gobardhan Leela’, ‘Makhan Chori’, ‘Malti-Madhav’, ‘Kumar Sambhav’, and ‘Phag Bahar’. Birju Maharaj has also worked in films. He composed two classical dance sequences for Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ and choreographed a song for Sanjay Leela Bhansal’s film ‘Devdas’.
Birju Maharaj bagged many awards like Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Padma Vibhushan, Kalidas Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, SNA Award, Sangam Kala Award, etc. He received two honorary doctorate degrees and the Nehru Fellowship.
Birju Maharaj taught at Sangeet Bharati, Bharatiya Kala Kendra, and headed the teaching faculty Kathak Kendra in Delhi till his retirement in 1998.
Achievement: Well-known exponent of Kathak; Recipient of Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Padma Vibhushan, Kalidas Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, SNA Award, Sangam Kala Award.