In today's times, hardly youngsters are interested in learning Indian classical dance forms and preserving our country's rich heritage. The male population flinches when it comes to traditional dancing, and people mostly consider it as a girl's terrain.
Birju Maharaj, whose name is Brijmohan Mishra, is a dance maestro who teaches Kathak. He was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on February 4, 1938 in a family of excellent artists. Mishra is Ishwari Prasad's direct descendant.
Ishwari is probably the foremost Kathak dancer of the country. Mishra's name is a synonym of Lord Krishna. His father, Jagannath Maharaj, whose other name was Acchan Maharaj, was a dancer in the princely state of Raigarh. Besides his father, Mishra's uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, also trained him in Kathak's Kalka-Bindadin gharana. At the young age of seven, he gave his first recital.
When he was eight, Sangeet Bharti, Delhi, invited him to reach their institution. However, after the communal riots broke out, he had no other alternative but to relocate back to Lucknow. Unfortunately, a year later, Mishra's dad passed away, and the family had to struggle for financials.
They had to sell some of the family heirlooms to make ends meet. Eventually, they moved from Lucknow to Delhi. Later, Shambhu Maharaj, his uncle, founded Bhartiya Kala Kendra and Mishra became the head of Bhartiya Kala Kendra's faculty and its director. In 1988, he separated from it and opened his dance institution named Kalashram.
Mishra has wooed the audience from several countries with his graceful moves, lethal choreography, and delicate expressions. Besides dancing, he can play drums and string instruments efficiently in spite of never learning them formally.
Mishra can sing Ghazals, Thumri, Bhajans, and Dadra. In Bollywood, he has worked on Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Gadar, Dil To Pagal Hai, Devdas, and
Bajirao Mastani. Mishra has published poet collections named Brij shyam Kahe, Anubhuti, and much more.
He has performed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on numerous occasions. Mishra is the recipient of Padma Vibhushan, Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Shiromani Samman, Nritya Choodamani, Rajiv Gandhi Peace Award, Adharshila Shikhar Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, and much more. Khairagarh and Banaras Hindu University have conferred their honorary doctorate degrees on him.
Mishra is immensely close to his mother, who lived all her life in the family's ancestral home. He has five children named Deepak, Kavita, Jaikishan, Anita, and Mamta. Sushri Saswati Sen, Shri Pratap Pawar, Sushri Prabha Marathe, and Shri Munnalal Shukla are the disciples he chose to carry forward his legacy.