February 4, 1938 |
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
|Genres||Indian classical music|
Brijmohan Mishra (Hindi: बृजमोहन मिश्र) popularly known as Pandit Birju Maharaj (Hindi: पंडित बिरजू महाराज)(born February 4, 1938) is the leading exponent of the Lucknow Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Kathak dance in India. He is a descendant of the legendary Maharaj family of Kathak dancers, including his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, and his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj. Even though dancing is his first love, he also has an excellent command over Hindustani classical music and is an accomplished vocalist as well. He took Kathak to new heights by choreographing new Kathak dance dramas.He is also the founder of kalashram. He has toured extensively around the globe, given thousands of performances and held hundreds of workshops for kathak students.
After working along with his uncle, Shambhu Maharaj at Bhartiya Kala Kendra, later the Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, he remained head of the latter, for several years, till his retirement in 1998 when he opened his own dance school, Kalashram, also in Delhi.
Early life and background
Birju Maharaj was born in the house of noted Kathak exponent, Jagannath Maharaj, popularly known as Acchan Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana, who served as court dancer in Raigarh princely state. Birju was trained by his uncles, Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj and his father, and he gave his first recital at the age of seven. On 20 May 1947, his father died when he was nine . After a few years of struggle, his family moved to Delhi.
Birju Maharaj started teaching the dance form at the young age of thirteen, at the Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi. He then taught at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi, and at the Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) where he was Head of Faculty, and Director, retiring in 1998  after which he opened his own dance school, Kalashram, also in Delhi. He composed the music, and sang, for two dance sequences in the Satyajit Ray's Shatranj ke Khilari, and choreographed the song Kaahe Chhed Mohe from the 2002 film version of novella Devdas.
He has two daughters and three sons, of whom Mamta Maharaj, Deepak Maharaj and Jai Kishan Maharaj are Kathak dancers. He also has a Grandson Tribhuwan Maharaj.
Awards and honours
Birju Maharaj has won many accolades, including Padma Vibhushan in 1986, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Kalidas Samman. He also received honorary Doctorate degrees from the Banaras Hindu University(Varanasi) and the Khairagarh University.
- He was the recipient of the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskaar in 2002.
- Bharat Muni Samman 
- 2012 National Film Award for Best Choreography: Vishwaroopam (2012) 
- Kaui, Banotsarg-Boghaz (2002). Subodh Kapoor, ed. The Indian encyclopaedia: biographical, historical, religious, administrative, ethnological, commercial and scientific. Volume 3. Genesis Publishing. p. 198. ISBN 81-7755-257-0.
- Massey, p. 29
- Achchan Maharaj
- Buddhiraja, Sunita. "Birju Maharaj - Kathak personified". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 2007-03-25.[dead link]
- Bhattacharya, Santwana. "Birju Maharaj retires". Indian Express. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
- Birju Maharaj at the Internet Movie Database
- "Hema Malini selected for Bharat Muni Samman - Hindustan Times". hindustantimes.com. 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "The earlier recipients are Thankamani Kutty, Pandit Birju Maharaj,"
- "Hema Malini receives Bharat Muni Samman: Wonder Woman - Who are you today?". wonderwoman.intoday.in. 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "The earlier recipients are Thankamani Kutty (Bharatanatyam), Pandit Birju Maharaj (kathak),"
- "60th National Film Awards Announced" (PDF) (Press release). Press Information Bureau (PIB), India. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- Massey, Reginald (1999). India's kathak dance, past present, future. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-374-4.
- Pandit Birju Maharaj (Official Website)
- Kathak maestro Birju Maharaj on top Indian dancers