One family has dominated kathak since the days of the nawabs
1. WAJID ALI SHAH (1822-1887), the last nawab of Awadh, was a singerdancer and composer. He patronised the ancestors of Birju Maharaj and gave them a house to live in Lucknow.
2. THAKUR PRASAD was Wajid Ali’s court dancer, along with his cousin Durga Prasad, and they taught the nawab. Durga Prasad’s two sons became famous as the Kalka-Bindadin duo.
3. KALKA PRASAD was also in Wajid Ali’s court. He was celebrated for his amazing footwork and command over complex rhythms. Along with his brother Bindadin, he became famous all over India.
4. BINDADIN MAHARAJ was a great Krishna devotee and composed hundreds of songs that are sung and danced even today. He taught his three nephews who dominated kathak in the 20th century.
MAHARAJ was described so because he was achchha or good. The very model of agility and grace despite his heavy build, he not only taught his younger brothers but also many pupils from all over India. He is Birju Maharaj’s father.
6. LACHCHHU MAHARAJ, the second brother, was lacheela, light in body. He started with New Theatres in Kolkata and then moved to Mumbai where he directed several dance sequences and taught several film stars as well.
7. SHAMBHU MAHARAJ, the youngest of the trio, is still remembered for his mesmerising mime and singing abilities. He taught in Delhi for many years and is survived by his sons, Rammohan and Kishenmohan Maharaj. 8. BIRJU AND JAIKISHAN MAHARAJ, son and grandson of Achchhan Maharaj. Birju has dominated the kathak scene since the 1960s as a performer and also as a teacher. He continues to perform and teach all over the world even today. Jaikishan is a chip off the same block.