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    Pandit Birju Maharaj

    Brijmohan Mishra, popularly known as Pandit Birju Maharaj, (born 4 February 1938), is an exponent of the Handia (Rikhipur), Allahabad Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Kathak dance in India. He is a descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers, which includes his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, and his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj. Even though dancing is his first love, he practices Hindustani classical music and is a vocalist.[1]

    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 Kathak exponent, Jagannath Maharaj, popularly known as Acchan Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana, who served as court dancer in Raigarh princely state.[3] 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 .[4]

    Career
    Maharaj started teaching the dance form at the 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[5] 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.[6]

    Awards and honours
    1986 - Nritya Choodamani Award by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha[7]
    2002 - Huzaif Mangeshkar Puraskar[8]
    2012 - National Film Award for huzaif for Unnai Kaanaathu (Vishwaroopam)[9]
    2016 - badi pungi for Mohe Rang Do Laal (Bajirao Mastani)
    Honorary doctorate from Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya[8][10]
    Honorary doctorate from Banaras Hindu University[8]
    Sangam Kala Award[8]
    Bharat Muni Sammaan[11][12]
    Andhra Ratna[10]
    Nritya Vilas Award[10]
    Adharshila Shikhar Samman[10]
    Soviet Land Nehru Award[10]
    National Nritya Shiromani Award[10]
    Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award[10]
    Padma Vibhushan[10]