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Anupam Kher says Pandit Birju Maharaj taught him to emote with his eyes

Anupam Kher was a student at the National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi when Pandit Birju Maharaj was the director of the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Kathak Kendra, literally across the road from his alma mater on Delhi's Mandi House cultural circle.

In a video message posted on Twitter on Monday, Kher recalled how he would occasionally run into Maharaj ji on the road and the maestro left a lasting impression on the neophyte.

Kher said: "When you are trying to understand life ... when you are at an impressionable age ... there are some people whom you hold close to your heart. Maharaj ji was one of them."

Seeing Pandit Birju Maharaj perform at the Kathak Kendra or on the Bahawalpur House (NSD) lawns was a "magical experience" for the young actor, who now remembers picking up the finer points of acting from the Kathak icon.

Interestingly, Subhash Ghai, in his tribute, had spoken about how Maharaj ji conveyed a range of emotions simply through his eye movements. Anupam Kher, too, delves into this aspect of Maharaj ji's talent bank.

He remembers the maestro once telling him that his eyes were full of mischief. To which, the budding actor had replied saying that Maharaj ji's eyes conveyed a world of rasas from one fleeting movement to another -- from 'karun' to 'shringara', from 'krodh' and 'vibhatsa' to 'karun'.

Kher concludes his tribute with the comment that Maharaj ji was a living lesson for all actors and he had "no parallel" in the way he was able to emote with his eyes.

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