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'My mom was not ill'

By PATCY N
July 03, 2020 18:33 IST
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'We were shocked to know about her death.'
'We couldn't believe it because she was not sick or in a bad condition.'

IMAGE: Saroj Khan with daughter Sukaina Nagpal.

"Growing up, I was aware that my mother was a famous choreographer. I have seen my mom do miracles on screen," Saroj Khan's daughter Sukaina Nagpal says.

Sukaina has witnessed many of these miracles, up close, when she escorted her mother to work.

She tells Patcy N/Rediff.com, "When she was on the sets, she was not my mother. She was a Masterji and Masterji never listened to anybody except herself."

"I went to boarding school, so I did not get special treatment for being Saroj Khan's daughter. In fact, my mother had told the principal that I should not be given special preference.

I would spend every vacation with her. If she was shooting, I would be on her sets. If she was on a world tour, I would go with her.

Every assistant of my mom -- from Mr Ahmed Khan to Mr Remo -- knows me.

I was the youngest baby, and would be around every time.

I have been on the sets of all my mom's legendary songs.

IMAGE: Rekha kisses Saroj Khan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Saroj Khan/Instagram

When she was on the sets, she was not my mother. She was a Masterji and Masterji never listened to anybody except herself.

She was a woman of her word.

She used to make sure everybody came on time.

She would report to her shoots an hour early.

If I told my mother I had to wake up at 6 am, she would start waking me up at 5 am. That was her discipline.

I went to a world tour with mom and Rekhaji.

Before the tour, there were rehearsals.

At the same time, mom was choreographing Rang De (Thakshak) on Tabuji.

Rekhaji loved the choreography of the song so much that she said, 'Even though I don't have to dance on this song in any film or world tour, I still want to practice it.'

So she would come at 5 am every day to practice the dance even though she was not going to perform it.

IMAGE: Saroj Khan hugs Madhuri Dixit. Photograph: Kind courtesy Saroj Khan/Instagram

Madhuri (Dixit) ma'am is like my elder sister. She has been like family to us.

Unke bina zindagi adhuri hai.

When my elder sister Cuckoo passed away, Madhuri ma'am was the first person to come to Lilavati Hospital to see how mom was doing.

Today, because of the pandemic, she couldn't see mom, but she called me up and made sure I was okay.

She made me stronger.

She said, 'Now, you are the man of the house. You have to stand strong. Don't be weak in front of your children.'

My mother was close to Sridevi too.

I remember once mom and I were in Juhu (northwest Mumbai) in our car.

Sridevi ma'am and her daughters Janhvi and Khushi were at the other side of the road.

As soon as Sridevi ma'am saw my mother, she started screaming out her name.

We were startled.

Then she pointed to her daughters, telling my mom that she had two children.

 

IMAGE: Sara Ali Khan learned dance from Saroj Khan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Saroj Khan/Instagram

I don't know if my mother was close to any star from today's generation, but she would teach Ananya Panday, Sara Ali Khan, Saiee Manjrekar and Salman Khan's niece Alizeh Agnihotri. They were all her students.

She had a dance hall in Oshiwara (northwest Mumbai) where stars would come to learn dance.

My mother kept her professional life to herself.

We never asked her questions about where she was going, who she was working with...

She kept us away from the film industry, especially me.

She said I should not get into the film industry because it is not my cup of tea.

She would say, 'You are a very beautiful girl. I want you to get married and have a nice life.'

I danced because it runs in my blood. But I never danced professionally.

I never showed interest in this profession like my brother Raju Khan.

My sister was a costume designer.

I was managing my mother's workshop internationally, including the US, UK, Australia...

In Dubai, I was handling her dance classes.

IMAGE: Saroj Khan with daughter Sukaina and Rekha on the 1999 World Tour. Photograph: Kind courtesy Saroj Khan/Instagram

class="credit">Photograph: Kind courtesy Sukaina Nagpal

Three years ago, mom asked me to come back to Mumbai. She felt alone because my sister was dead, and my brother was staying with his family.

She needed somebody with her, so I came back.

My mother and my four-year-old daughter would argue all the time, but if I scolded my daughter, my mother would shout at me and says it is between them.

She was not a strict mother, but she was disciplined.

She taught me table manners.

She taught me how to talk to people, how to sit in public...

My mom was not ill. She got hospitalised on June 20 because of a slight difficulty in breathing.

Her breathing problem kept increasing and the doctors finally decided they would keep her on oxygen for a couple of days.

Suddenly, she got a spike in her blood sugar. Her diabetes was around 600 and 650.

At 1:52 am, she got a cardiac arrest.

Doctors tried to revive her till 2 am. but they could not.

My husband and I were waiting in the hospital.

We were shocked to know about her death.

We couldn't believe it because she was not sick or in a bad condition.

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PATCY N / Rediff.com
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