Apsara, Indian Sculpture 12th Century

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Dancing Celestial India (Uttar Pradesh). Early 12th century. Sandstone. H. 331/2 in. (85.1 cm) Promised Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving (L 1993.88.2) Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. The contours and richly ornamented surfaces of this celestial attendant to the gods exemplify a stylistic shift away from earlier Gupta-influenced forms. Here the linear play of surface decoration and dramatic contours replace the earlier emphasis on seamless volume and subtle balance. The sculptor has twisted the figure into an extraordinary pose that captures the essence of her dance and seems absolutely believable until one imagines actually trying to turn this way. The jewelry sways and emphasizes her movements, both in the way the necklaces and sashes follow the curves of her body and in the upward thrust of the spiked tips of her crown. The crisp carving of her adornments makes a pleasing contrast with the smooth and rounded surfaces of her flesh. Images of dancing semidivine attendants often appear on the outer walls of Hindu temples. They are placed near the figures of gods to honor the deity, just as actual female dancers honored the gods’ images within the temple.

this is what wiki listed?

But on the Met Museum one line is written?

“Imagine posing as a model for this dancing female figure. You’ll soon realize that this striking pose is anatomically impossible. Yet the sculptor has captured the essence of continuous, whirling motion.”  https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/38153

But in our Indian classical Dance or so to say in other Indian dances there are various pose, Mudras those may seem impossible for west minds? But In many pose/Mudras certain amount of training goes into, before perfecting it. Specially in BharatNatyam, Oddissi dances?

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Such are few common pose in or dance and Indian milieu? putting the red crimson red called Sindoor on forehead, that is symbol of Married women? But the way it is executed in dancing movement is something is captured the imagination of many artists. Even dancers also execute this movement with grace. Thus sculptors also put their expertise. Somtimes it is putting eye liner, or putting flower in hair plaits? or decorating head forehead etc. all such movements take shapes in various forms of arts.588c25ae9ce74cd0bc515f921e0d121a7ec453af8b975a1c12f355e1d7b9b0d67c2ca0db002594e468555a5735772632sit69.1_copy (1)C5T4l8mWEAA_aU8Cy5-AkGXcAAew5bCXiWoqgUQAALF8a

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Film Pakeezah, MeenaKumari ji
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Sunaina Hazari Lala, Kathak

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Stand up, fight back; #Bullying seems common, but what is it?

Stand up, fight back was the topic of an article appeared in The Hindu of March 5, 2018 (EDGE page 3). Written by Ananthalakshmi Sekhar.

Bullies exist everywhere; nip their advances in the bud says the highlight of this article.

Bullying seems common, but what is it?

It is verbal or physical abuse with aliases being “intimidate”, harass. It is the sadistic feeling of joy one enjoys when victimizing the vulnerable target.

Who is bullied more- men or women? Bullying knows no gender; although women are easy targets, sometimes, men have no escape either.

It happens everywhere.

Reasons for bullying range from bigoted attitudes, poor upbringing, insecurity, aesthetic appeal, employment, earnings and more. Irrespective of the fitting reason behind this vilifying act, not all emerge stronger.

It is so strong that sometimes many have altered their circadian clock to end themselves. So how you handle bullying?

Say no to self-pity. Writer goes on to describe her own experiences and her attempts to overcome all that.

Those suffering bullying, remember, seeking assistance helps. Talk to your close friend or confidante, else to a professional. If bullied, speak out boldly to let your trauma known. Do not despair; with mental strength, you can fight back. Becoming vulnerable victims is not an effective solution.

Article ends there.

Since childhood I had been victim of bullying. Till recently, I did not know how to term that feeling now I know I was being bullied. Earlier in some writing that I have read that was equated as something due to peer pressure.

Since very beginning I started liking to dance. I don’t remember when for the first time I danced. But I do remember one incident when in Ganeshgunj, Lucknow we used to stay at ancestral home with a joint family. One song came on radio, Hawa me udta jai mera lal dupatta malmal ka. I still hear those voices in my ears.  Few people started calling loudly dance kamles dance and started clapping. I remember I was dancing on this song. Whenever this song came on radio I was encouraged to dance. I don’t know if dancing (making movements with music) came to me naturally?

Later as I grew up and started attending school at IITKanpur campus, one sport teacher spotted my talent. He used to encourage me to dance. In physical education period that was known to us as PT period, he would ask me and few others to show their talents. I used to sing and dance. Many times my PT sir praised me and my talent. So I felt special within myself. But on the other side all the class mates, more so all boys started bullying me. They used to comment on me. Few equated me with dancing girls. I was called The nauch girl, randi, tawaif, nachnewali. Few were more kind they called me hizra(eunuch) . Few friends called me a “girl”. All this happened because I used to dance.

In school few songs of mine were very famous. Nazar Lagi raja tore bangle par, inhi logon ne le lina dupatta mora and thare rahiyo banke yaar re from film pakeezah. I started iconizing Meena Kumari ji. Thus boys used to say “Thare Rahio” or “nazar lagi raja”.

I was nick named as gaurayia. It is common name of sparrow.

Later when I reached class VII or so while playing kabaddi, the boys tried to gag me and few tried to see whether I have male sex organs or not? When I went to other side on my turn, few elder boys caught me and pushed me down on ground. I heard them telling to younger boys that I am holding his hands and legs you just see in his pants whether he has that organ etc.

Meanwhile as I was growing up such miss adventures also were growing around me. So much was apprehension inside me, that while going out to buy something from market, if I saw those boys in the street, I had to change my direction. Or I had to stay back and wait for some time till they go away. There was a house of Agn….ri .and Du…e. Most of terrorists used to live those houses. I mean we were so much terrorized due to boys of those house.

Later we shifted to type two and came into high school. Then my classmates grew more mischievous. Few called me Bulbul, “nach meri bulbul paisa milega”. One gang sang “tauba eh matwali chaal”.

I grew up amidst such group of boys. Few boys didn’t take me seriously at all. I mean I didn’t have any say in that group or gathering. But I didn’t left my passion for dance.

Being born in a family that lived within a society, I cannot imagine that my family could have broken norms of society. I still feel that my father was very brave. I can’t imagine how much pressure he would have gone through accepting me and my passion for dance. Many times he voiced his anger and concerns on my habit of dancing. I really feel how great he was. His peer group might have commented or laughed at him while targeting me. He is most courageous man. He never directly stopped me, but few times alerted me.

Had we got some kind of facility of learning dance or music nearby our house, we would have got enrolled and could have learnt many things. It was beyond imagination of our family that a boy travelling few kilometres away from home just to learn dance. Such things were not considered good even in 1970s.

But yes, our family never desist or restricted me or my sisters from taking part in co-curriculum activities in school.

One neighbour with whom we used to leave keys of our house also commented once. We had so much trust on him and his family, as I said we used to leave keys of our house with them. He said “your father will have difficulty in arranging your marriage”. He said this due to the fact that I used to dance and I was famous as “A boy who dance”? Whatever were his thoughts about me, it didn’t really matter to me back then nor today.

Most of my peer group might have had some perceived thoughts about me. One classmate used to take my notebooks to complete his works. Once I went to house to talk to him, as our exams were very near. As I crossed one window, I overheard something, His mother whom I addressed as Aunty (with respect, as we were always taught to address other elders respectfully) she said he is not home. That was the last day I talked to him. Now he lives in USA, his daughters are learning Bharatnatyam. He daily used to comment on me. I have not made him friend on Facebook.

Few others are also living in USA and their daughters are doing dance. But when those girls were in my class they laughed at me. Now they are proud mothers of girls who dance Bharatnatyam.

One Marathi professor was there. He seemed to be on forefront in all cultural activities in campus, mostly classical music. But once I saw he strictly stopped his daughter from taking part in one program on stage. He was class conscious.

When I had to attend Degree College in Kanpur, I had to take bus to go to city. Many boys together went to college. On the way they commented on me. I could do nothing as I was one and alone among all those boys.

When I was student of IIT then also on few occasions I felt such bullying. The only cause was that I used to dance. I loved to dance. There was a group of ladies, they organized cultural activities in campus. I remembered once there was a dance drama “Chitrangada” of RabindraNath Tagore. One day I was asked to take part in dance sequence, there were few more boys. But I was chosen to dance on “Mohini maya elo” and I was told to choreograph few movements for the group. After few rehearsals, suddenly one day i was told that dance sequence will not be staged (or that sequence will not be part of this ballet). I think they tried to rope in my sisters and as a lollipop they might have thought to play this dirty game with me. I am at liberty to apply my mind and my perception to things happened with me.

Thus I imagined, what might have been the cause behind this bullying?

Song of Bird: Zohra Sehgal, the immortal, as i know

Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan  was the actual name of Zohra Sehgal ji.  But I knew her most energetic persona. Zohra Sehgal ji. Many years back I saw a TV serial Mulla Nasiruddin on Doordarshan. it was based on stories that we used to hear during childhood. But i had been admirer of Zohra Sehgal ji as i am a student of Dance. Thus anyone in India who is learning dance must know about Zohra ji. Beacsue she was the leading dancer in Uday Shankar’s dance troupe that toured the world in 1935? imagine that was before India got freedom. And in those days dancing by any girl of a respected family was something unbelievable, it was something like death. But Zohra Sehgal ji was always a fighter. However she got backing from her maternal uncle and few of his friends. With the help of her maternal uncle she went to Europe to study, but she also joined classes in Dance, modern dance. In material available in net she is termed as a tomboy? means during childhood she was not just a girl.

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with her daughter Kiran Sehgal

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Alice bonner, Uday Shankar, Beatrice, Uzra (Zohra's sister), Zohra Segal
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book by Kiran Sehgal on her mother Zohra Sehgal ji

img37 She acted in few plays, stage shows withe her sister Uzra in Lahore.

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at her 100 birthday celebration

images (81) First Indian woman to learn ballet at Mary Wigman's ballet school in Dresden,

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With Uday Shankar,

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She worked in the Prithvi Theatre as leading lady/actor in many stage shows accross India, her sister Uzra ji was already a leading actor of Prithvi Theatre.

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Zohra Segal icon of the stage and screen celebrates her 100th birthday with an official biographyimages (75)

She met Kameshwar Sehgal, when Uday Shankar started his dance academy at Almora(1940). Do you know our great film maker Guru Dutt ji was also learning dance at this academy. Zohra ji married Kameshwar Sehgal. Later they started as school at Lahore, Zohresh dance Institute. But they during migrated to Bombay, and She joined the Prithvi Theatre as an actor in 1945. She worked in few Hindi films also.

After death of her husband she moved to Delhi and then to London. There she worked in theatre shows also got opportunity to work in TV series, few on BBC also.

World famous and reputed Merchant Ivory production roped her in a film Courtesan of Bombay in 1982. This production house of James Ivory with the Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (the mysterious script writer) has always brought out interesting films on Indian themes. Thanx to Doordarshan that i was able to see few of them.

As she was dancer, she also did some choreography in films. most famous i remember the song (dream sequence) in Awara.

Her life in London was difficult to an extent but she some how established herself in TV series and films. Once somewhere i had read that she even did some stitching  work for  firm that was roped in for making curtains for the palace.

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Honoured with Padma Vibhusan in 2010

On Doordarshan when i saw the Jewel in the crown i did not know that Zohra Sehgal acted in the film as lady chaterjee (lili). I only remember a British lady near the end of series says that India  actually is the jewel in the crown. Then she acted in Tandoori Nights.

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Mind your language, a comedy TV series 1977, retelecast few times

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later in 90s she got some films also but she did plays with her sister also during this period. She appeared in Salman & Aishwaria starer, film Hum dil de chuke sanam.  on 9th July 2014 she passed away.  I think she should have got Bharat Ratna.

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Why she was most respected is that in-spite of the fact that she was born to a muslim family that too in a well to do family, in those times when purdah system was enforced she got education in school and went on to become s stage performer (dance & plays). Imagining about such a life one can really think of the hurdles she might have felt in her life. I or we must salute to the courage with which she worked all her life (independently on her own terms).

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NAVODIT 2016 at Port Blair, Andaman Nicobar Islands

Art has always fascinated me, particularly the dance. Now a days it is clubbed with performing arts. Do performing arts include dance, playing musical instruments, singing, plays-theatre etc? What about painting, writing, decorating home?

When I started appreciating arts at young age, I came to know few artists who were famous at national level; it was only due to the Doordarshan. That was the only channel and it was synonymous of TELEVISION. I saw Smt Swapna Sundari, Chitra Viswesaran, Alarmel valli, followed by Malvika Sarrukai, Prerna Shrimali, Veroniqa Azan, Shobha Naidu, Vanisri Rao, Charu Mathur, Malbika Sarkar etc they were called Young artist back then. Few were famous even more than few elder artists.

However young artists were always encouraged to show their talents at various stages, Yuva kalakar, Yuva Mahotsav, Sharadotsav etc.

Suddenly I saw a tweet of Ministry of art and culture stating that there will be a function at Port Blair named as NOVODIT. The department of Art and Culture Andaman Nicobar Administration is organizing in association with East Zone Cultural Centre on 25 November 2016.

I am a so called “art enthusiast” and I am very well known among few people and ill famous as a dancer.

Despite of well known in circle, I was not invited to the function. I mean I did not receive any invitation card. I don’t know whether there was any invitation card printed or not? But previous experience tells that I usually do not get invitation card. In some functions I had to plead with few officials shamelessly for an invitation card. Most of programs usually held free for public. But being in Government we often feel that if I get an official invitation then my social status seems to be enhanced.

img_9861But till 6 pm I could hold back myself, as the clock proceeded further I lost all resistance. After dropping my son for tuition class I just ran towards the venue, it was late though.

As I entered the auditorium with thumping heart I found Hon’ble Lt Governor of A & N Islands was addressing the gathering. Thus I felt some relief, and thought I am not that much late.

I was waiting for magic to happen. There was an  announcement that program will start with a song of folk singer from Bihar. Mr Dharmendra Kumar came to stage

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Dharmendra Kumar from Bihar

He is a young artist from Bihar. He started singing folk Songs of Bihar. Then he sang a Purvi, poorvi? accompanied by musicians. These musicians hailed from Port Blair itself.

Sound was good with broad spectrum of octave, but somewhere it sounded that he lacked, what we call as   “Swar ki pakad” the mastery on swaras. But if he practices with a good guru, teacher then he can improve his art. img_9865

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Priya Talukdar with her father

Another star of attraction was this girl named Miss Priyanka Talukdar. Her father Shri Talukdar has been teaching music in Port Blair for the last many years. I had met him back in 1998 when i was in Educatimg_9867ion Department. He worked as part time teacher then. But his efforts to teach students has bored fruits now after 20 years. The girl which we saw 18 years back is now performing on stage it was a good feeling.

She (Priyanka) sang a Tarana also. She rendered it in a simple way. But there is lot of scope for improvement. She has to get specialised training from some Guru at Mainland to hon her skills. her. Her स्वर  swar rendering is good.

Next was an item as they called it, the folk song of Bengal, but it was a Baul geeti, Baul songs by Dhanonjay Dhibar. He had a good powerful voice. But somehow he has to get into the true feeling of character of a Baul while singing.

He tried but as he himself said he was not able to dance as space was not enough in front of the stage.

As we know  Baul songs are soul touching experience. To feel, to touch that feeling we can not resist dancing on those Baul musical beats coming out of the ektara- one string instrument. I loved the songs of Partha Das. I had a HMV cassette of his Baul Singing.

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But in present times singers use electronic guitars and other electrical instruments. Dhananjoy also used an electronic instrument

Next was the Bharatnatyam item. As they announced the word “item” it sounded as a tailored item. It was Bharatnatyam by Sumita Roy.

Many senior artists often complain that few modern parents come and ask to teach “items’ to their wards. That sounds awkward to senior gurus. Now a days it is fashion to present an item on stage, instead of Dance.

Coming to the present function this item was a “thillana’ as was announced. Thillana is same as Tarana in Hindustani. We perform Tarana in Kathak similarly thillana is performed in Bharatnatyam. But the present item was little bit confusing, as it was little slow in temper. Usually what I have seen in Thillana it happens to be most energetic item in whole dance program, or it should be portrayed such. But those crisp beats, gaps all were missing. I mean as far as the image which I had of thillana, this item was not upto mark to that image. But the “adavus” poses mudras were quite fine. Thus she seemed to be a serious student. Movements of eyes, head, hands were all quite good.

 

Next came a surprising dance program. I am sure not many in audiences must have heard the name of Gaudiya Nritya.  Years back I saw the Satria dance, on Doordarshan, which took shape in Shatras or Chatras,  the ashrams in rural Assam.

But Gaudiya Nritya even i have not heard before, may be say 2000? But due to efforts of few dancers from Bengal Gaudiya is now developing into a full fledged dance.

Often it so happens that we have many rituals and keep on doing since ages but do not know the significance of these rituals. I am connecting to the origination of such dances. So at various religious occasions in rural India people perform dance and sing songs, but keeping all this as just ritual things. And we know in India many dances are associated with the Temple rituals. Even #Kathak was performed by the Kathakars- loose meaning is story teller,  in temples. The subject of these stories were mythological. As it is believed the dance as we know Kathak Kathakali Kuchipudi are all evolved from Temple dances. Thus very recently this dance the Gaudiya also have been researched and being presented as classical dance of Bengal.  Present dance was performed by the Satabdee Banerjee.

Next was the Kathak dance performance by Debjaya Sarkar. I had been s student of Kathak since 1975 in class IV, when one teacher came to teach dance at our school in Kanpur. Debjaya shown her caliber in the tatkar and layakari ang as we say in Kathak. She has got training and taken it seriously that reflected in her dance. but still as we all know that abhinaya aspect takes lots of time to be perfected. And experience also teach lots of things as we grow up performing programs.  I felt she must have learnt someone who is from Delhi or from Kathak Kendra, as she perfrmed some tukras which belonged to the school of Lucknow gharana and more particularly of Pt Birju Maharaj ji. But now days students learn many things from many teachers thus we cant claim that student belongs to a particular style of dance? whatever they perform is what they are taught?

Next came a very nice and serious performance by Sayani Chakraborty. She perfromed lots of adavus and javalis with abhinaya. I dont know but the music was little bit seriuos type for the audience. Those who know something about Bharatnatyam could have appreciated her performance better. I feel in such type of programms, dance with energetic music could have done justification.

Next was a nice performance of Kuchipudi by the Students of Gauri Shankara classical dance academy, Port Blair. The dance performed by the artists was very good being very young still they shown good potential.

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 there was very much appreciation for these young budding artists from Port Blair.

There was this camera from Doordarshan. I tried to peep in to see how they are recording? and captured this screen.

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this frame came while adjusting my camera and in between clicking the button.img_9976

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The director, Shri OM Prakash Bharati, of EZCC East Zone Cultural Centre prposed the vote of thanks.

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In end, the Chief Secretary, A & N Administration presented the certificates to all the participants

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Programme ended with hope to see such events in future also at Port Blair. As such programs are rarely seen in this remote part of India. Due to its remoteness from Mainland this part remains untouched from the experiences, experiments, innovations etc going on in the filed of Performing arts in Mainland India. Thus such programs with more frequency are needed at such remote place like Andaman Nicobar Islands.

Meena Kumari JI- a phenomena

मीनाकुमारी जी की जन्म तिथि पर On BirthDay of most respected Meena Kumari ji. the most awarded actor.

Most talented actor of Hindi films.
To understand this phenomena- a Super Star of Hindi Films one has to feel in heart.

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The day i saw Pakeezah, i started dancing.      The Music, editing, dialogues, the set design, rushes of frames, Picturisation all were superb and un-matched. As if, each frame was painted by a Painter with great care. The Character played by Meena Kumari ji came to life on screen with her inborn talent to show emotion. We saw the true Saheb Jaan. When She cried i cried, When she smiled i smiled that was the connection with her& Her screen presence.   When she lowered her eyelids and looked at hero through the corner of eyes i felt as if i am doing the same….
Thare Rahiyo …. banke yaar
All my classmates called me “Thare Rahio”, since i used to dance on this song of film Pakeezah. All through my schooldays and even in college days i was laughed at by all my classmates. WHY? Because I danced on all songs of Meana Kumari ji . Why they laughed because being a boy i used to dance? i was subjected to unnecessary taunts, comments. Even one uncle said that “your father will have problem for marrying you?”   This was the Most unexpected comment from most respected uncle who was my neighbour. We used to give keys of my house daily when all of us leave for school and my parents for office. Most amazing thing happened
When I went to participate in a dance competition held at AND Mahila Mahvidyalaya Harsh Nagar in Kanpur.  As i was coming out of college gate, i heard a voice “Thare Rahiyo” it was voice of some girl commenting from my behind? on that inter college dance competetion held at function ABHIVYAKTI in AND college that is a girls college.
So it is not that boys always pass comments at girls. But Girls also pass comments?  But i think Girls got confidence due to prevalent thinking in society that dancing is a bad thing and that too a boy was dancing on stage, thus it was a collective endevour of a group of girl students of AND Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Kanpur.  I am highlighting the perception of society towards the art of Dancing !!! that too if a boy dance.
 

All my school mates knew and remember me by the song “Thare Rahio” and नज़र लागी  राजा तोरे बंगले पर  “Nazar Laagi raja tore bangle par” also few remember me for “Inhi logo ne” इन्ही लोगों ने छीना दुपट्टा मेरा. What pains me that after 30 years If  I get to know that some of my classmates says oh that boy who used to dance? they remember me with that comment. I also see thier posts on social media, in that i see their daughters are learning dance, and that too in US America !! means when they were my classmates for them my dance was a bad thing and an object to redicule me. But as they went to America their daughters learning dance is a good thing.

But then this Saheb Bibi Gulam Happened. And I was star struck by acting skills of Meena ji. In the role of छोटी बहु Choti Bahu choti bahu Her acting was superb. The greatest histrionics played ever by any actor on screen of Hindi Films. My respect goes to Shri GURU DUTT saheb also. He casted her in this role? All of her frames in films were unparalleled till today.
Very recently i came to know that till the date Meena Kumari ji was doing this film she had not touched the drinks. As i have heard that Shri Kamal Amrohi ji had to assist her on acting after drinking.

 

 

To this great soul of India- A bharat Ratna. I offer my pranam

Such great star take birth very rarely on this earth.

Diamond of Kathak- Damyanti Joshi ji

Diamond of Kathak
Damyanti Joshi ji
When I met “Diamond” of Kathak, Smt Damyanti Joshi ji
It was a fine evening at the hall L7in IIT Kanpur. It is a lecture hall but doubled as the best auditorium for all kinds of activities. The L7 was unique, everyone in the IITK Campus knew the destination. Be a film show, natak, a debate, or Lec-Dem of SPICMACAY or dance performance of Swapna Sundari ji, or Music or vocal rendition by Smt GanguBai Hangal. All were held in this L7.
There was a show by the Lucknow Kathak Kendra. A team from kendra came to perform. I could not believe my eyes when I saw Smt Damyanti Joshi ji. It was just like a dream. Since at L7, I could easily sneak-in all such programs. I immediately touched her feet to seek her blessings. Long ago I had seen her on Doordarshan. Thus one can imagine what happens to a child when he sees a star which he had seen on TV. I was out of this world. Later when she came to know that I am a keen student of Kathak, She immediately turned towards a Man. She said see it is good that he is willing to join us at Lucknow, we have shortage of boys in Kathak at Lucknow.
Later she asked me to come to Lucknow Kathak Kendra anytime. Without any hesitation you come to me- she had told me. No other person had said such words to me before, apart from one person. That another person was wife of our president R Venkentaraman. Once she came to IIT Kanpur campus to visit her daughter, whom I knew as Vijaya Aunty, I went to aunty’s house for some work. There I met her mother. That time R Venkataraman was Vice president. She told that you come to Delhi and inform at gate- so and so has come from IIT Kanpur. I really missed the opportunity to visit the Up-Rasthrapati’s house in New Delhi.  Similarly when most respected Damyanti ji said those kind words I was filled with lots of emotions, imaginations etc. But What I could have done at that time. In both instances I was a “nobody”, how could I go to their places.
Later after some time I heard that due to some reasons Damyanti ji did not continue as the director, Kathak Kendra, Lucknow. It was not her loss. It was loss of Lucknow. It was a great loss for me personally. She was the true example of Kathak. Since she had learnt from guru of Jaipur Gharana and also from All the three gurus of Lucknow, Achchan Maharaj, Lachu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj. Thus She was a GEM- a Diamond of Kathak. Whose glitter never fades. That is the only quality by which a diamond is recognized.
As a four year old child she used to play in the courtyard of a house belonging to the Shokhey’s household. The lady of the house madam shokey was none other but known as Madame Menaka. She was also a great performer, a gifted one. She adopted this child, the daughter of Smt Vatsala. Who was working in this household. Thus began the association of two stars. Under the guidance of Madam Menaka the career of Damyanti ji started charting a path, which always strode upwards. Till Damyanti ji became a glittering star herself. Madam Menaka selected teachers for her daughter-Damyanti ji.

Legend has it that when the Guru Mahalingam Pillai the great Nattuvanar started school in Bombay to teach BharatNatyam, Smt Damyanti Joshi was the first student the moment the school started. That tells the alertness both Damyanti ji and Madam Menaka had and behind all, the approval of her mother might have been a great strength.

She started wearing Saree while dancing

As the training continued under tutelage of various great masters, Damyanti ji with her determination and will power emerged as a true artist. She learnt the intricacies of art-Kathak. She did not follow the art for the sake of fame. She was a true artists at core. Her renditions were pure art. She mastered over the Abhinaya and the “dheer” emotion of taal. As we know Kathak has been used as a chamatkari nritya- that means the dance specially the gunghrus were used to have some surprising effect on the audience, using the high speed laya and taal (beats). So as to mesmerize everybody. But, She chose Vilambit laya, the lowest speed while dancing. Through the slow beat the focus remains on the abhinaya, or so to say, if someone has truly mastered an art, it can be judged only through the vilambit laya-the Slow pace.
In another article I read that she did not like the introduction /announcement before any item. As she felt that dance itself should be able to communicate with the Audience. What is the need to inform the audience before-hand. If a dancer tells to audience before dance That means artist has failed in its objective. Kathak means the story telling. If we are not able to convey the story though our gestures then we fail ourselves.
She was also master in the Nayika Bhed, or the Astha Nayikas. The eight types of mood or heroines. As earlier I had written about Natraj Gopi Krishna, he was a true natraj and he demonstrated the nayika bhed with added masala. Small little things like pulling the hair pin with teeth and then putting on plait. But Damyanti ji demonstrated within the boundaries as defined in the shastras. She has been credited to introduce the practice of wearing Saree while dancing.
I attended several Lec Dem and seminars etc. In one utsav of Kathak at Delhi  in evening there was program of Smt Damyanti Joshi ji in the FICCI auditorium. The year is not important. It was I think 1994/95?? It was quite late in night. I was strong lover of dance. I reached the FICCI, but when I entered the auditorium I felt ashamed. Felt very sad. At least when such a star artist and that too a senior artist of her status has come down to Delhi and more over she has the determination to perform herself on stage at that advanced AGE, all the dance fraternity must be present there. But I felt sad that only few days back there was a programme by Smt Uma Sharma ji for Spastic society of India. The FICCI auditorium was full. But when Damyanti Joshi danced in same auditorium not much seats were filled. Only a quarter of hall was with human heads. That day inside me I wept somewhere. But as I am a nobody, whom I could complain.
But kudos to that spirit, Damyanti Ji came on stage and danced with gunghroos on her feet. She danced few Tihais and chakardars also. Sometimes it seemed she will fell down. But She composed herself and completed dance. I salute her spirit. I saw her dancing at that advanced age is no sort of miracle for me (as a student of art). Not many from Kathak Kendra were there. However few from organizers and prachin kala Kendra were there too.
Photos I have taken from internet. Nowdays anyone can google pictures. But for us the students of arts this medium is very beneficial as we can atleast see many works of arts.
Thanx to the Google, The internet which has become a world wide web…..no one can come out of it!!! Google from a noun has become a verb!!!
Below is a Newspaper cutting , i have forgot the name, written by Ashish Khokar. It is in my collection of all such odd things that i used to collect during my schooldays. And it was a big problem for my family.
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The #Diva- one & only #SitaraDevi ji #nrityasamragyi; #Queen of #kathak

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The moment you see at Sitara Devi ji here in every frame the bright spirit comes alive.

Not only for women’s day but for my respect and remembrance I thought to “google” (as this word has become synonym for search) some of the images of our great star. From those thousands pics I selected and copied few pictures available and pasted here. sitara3

I wish i can write a small booklet on her. (i will try on net) each frame tells a story thus that story I will imagine and try to write  in my way. But for now, on women’s day, she is the true symbol to pay respect towards her (an untirirng spirit of a woman).

I had seen her many programs on Doordarshan all black and white broadcast from Lucknow Doordarshan Kendra during 1980s. I wish all are available in doordarshan archives? Similar programs of GopiKrishna were also telecasted.

I am not the only one who is in awe of her. The famous Dance critic writer Sunil Kothari said about her “Sitara was exceptionally talented. Full of energy and infectious spirit, her dance cast a spell on audiences, not for the nazakat (delicacy) and khubsoorti (beauty) the Lucknow gharana was known for, but for her electrifying Kathak. Sitara’s endearing way of speaking to the audience, be it in Motihari village in Bihar, or Carnegie Hall in New York, won her the affection of connoisseurs and lay people. She was a law unto herself.?       These words sumup abou ther in little.

The moment Sitara Devi ji used to come up on stage She used to electrify whole of stage.

Although SitaraDevi ji hailed from “Kathak family” and a Brahmin family, where it was a social stigma on dancing by girls of such families. But due to encouragement from her Father and guru Pt Sukhdev Maharaj she got opportunity to learn Kathak Dance from her elder sisters Tara ji, who was mother of Nritya Samrat GopiKrishna ji. Another elder sister was Alakhnanda ji who was also a famous kathak performer of her time. I think she died nearly in 1984 ??? i dont remember exact year. But when I went to BHU to appear in an examination there i had read a newsitem in a news paper that Alakhnanda ji was seriously ill and ailing in a hospital. Since I had gone to BHU to appear in an examination and i could imagine how my parents and relatives could have reacted had I requested them to take me to that hospital just to see Alakhnanda ji?? that is situation in our society. Then imagine what hardship these ladies, these legendry stars, had to face during their childhood in 1920s or 1930s?

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Eldest sister of SitaraDevi ji Smt Alaknanda Devi ji
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Sitara Devi ji was a permanent star attendance at most famous Holi Dhamal of RK Studio,.

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Has anyone thought that a LP record of a classical dancerimages (4) will be brought out in those times? HMV might have thought of her popularity among people of India for her singing and dancing capabilities.

Sitara Ji always loved the brighter side of life, i think that shows her postive attitude towards life. the zeal to live life to its fullest.sit1  sit6sit7

sit10Dilip saheb considered as her sister? She was married to the husband of his sister, thus by our indian traditions She was his sister? we had great traditions in India. Till recently Sitara ji visited Dilip Kumar saheb ji on Rakhsabandhan, to tie Rakhi.

Sitara ji married at her own terms. Sitara Devi was married to Nazir Ahmed Khan then to K. Asif and then to Pratap Barot. K Asif was brother of wife of Nazir Ahmed Khan.

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In this age Dr Sitara Devi ji came up on stage and people sought her blessings, at Sur Singar Sansad. Here daughter of Sitara Devi Ji Smt JayantiMala presented her dance. After Sitara Devi ji and Gopi Krishna ji there is no one who can bear the Torch of Banaras Gharana of Kathak. I mean that charm and majesty which these star dancers carried will be missed.

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Each and every frame depicts her as lively persona

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This particular image is enough to describe her untiring spirit and ever ready to dance. She was on wheel chair and still performed on stage at a function organised in memory of women empowerment !!! is it not a symbol of untiring spirit.

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https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/uEgMMffzZns

http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/sitara-devi-obituary/article6639595.ece

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitara_Devi