Ms. Khan was born in that room, the primary of six youngsters. She recalled dancing with shadows there as a toddler, fascinated even then by what would turn out to be her calling. To complement the household’s earnings, her father managed to get her work in Mumbai’s booming movie trade as a toddler actress at the age of three, below the identify Saroj.
She had small roles in plenty of movies earlier than changing into a background dancer at age 10, showing within the basic “Howrah Bridge,” starring the actress Madhubala.
Soon afterward, Ms. Khan’s father died all of the sudden. In a 2012 documentary, “The Saroj Khan Story,” Ms. Khan described how her mom struggled to feed her and her siblings, and the way they typically went to mattress hungry.
On the eve of the Diwali vacation, Ms. Khan labored up the braveness to ask the matinee star Shashi Kapoor for assist. “I had just finished one song with him, I was the group dancer,” she stated. “I went to him and told him, tomorrow is Diwali and I have nothing at home. I will get paid only after a week. He said, ‘I have 200 rupees right now, please take it.’ I’ll never forget it, that money helped me so much.”
Ms. Khan by no means formally skilled as a dancer. Most classical dancers spend years learning below a trainer earlier than they ever carry out in public, however with a household to assist assist, that was not an choice for Ms. Khan.
While nonetheless a younger lady, she grew to become an assistant to the choreographer B. Sohanlal, working with him on among the largest movies of the time. He taught her the fundamentals of kathak, a classical Indian dance.
“When he started teaching me, I realized that I can’t keep a posture, I don’t know how to do this,” she recalled within the documentary. “He made me work very hard, I had to remain in the same posture for hours at a time, but he turned me into a good dancer.”