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A useful book on Kathak

- Vijay Shanker

April 27, 2023

Kathak is undoubtedly the most popular classical dance style of northern India. Over the centuries, Kathak has evolved and developed as a distinct form of classical dance, with emphasis on intricate rhythmic footwork and stylized circular movements which is considered the highlight and also creates a fine spectacle whenever a Kathak performance is witnessed. Pertaining to the storytelling tradition, the word Kathak is derived from the word "kathakaar" (story teller). Hence like other classical dance styles of India, varied stories from Hindu mythology are interpreted in the Kathak style through the medium of hasta mudras (hand gestures), expressions and varied bodily movements.

Kathak - Book by Marami Medhi, Debasish Talukdar

Kathak has been an integral part of Indian cinema for several years, particularly in Hindi cinema. Some of the most popular movies that have featured Kathak are Satyajit Ray's 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi', Kamal Haasan's 'Vishwaroopam' and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Devdas' (featuring Madhuri Dixit and Aishwaria Rai). These movies have popularised Kathak to such an extent that lot of children and youth have come forward to learn this beautiful classical dance. In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the brilliant book on Kathak written by accomplished Kathak exponent from Assam, Marami Medhi and tabla maestro Debasish Talukdar, also from Assam. Titled 'Kathak Volume 1 - A Theoretical and Practical Guide,' this book is a useful guide to students of Prathama and Madhyama of Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapith, Praveshika, first year and second year of Prayag Sangeet Samiti along with 9th and 10th examination.

Published by Anshika Publication from Lucknow, the book price is only Rs.499 with an extensive coverage of the varied aspects of Kathak in 29 chapters, running into 180 pages with beautiful pictures as well. The varied chapters concern the syllabus of Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapith and Prayag Sangeet Samiti, different types of fine arts, Natyopatti and Nrityopatti Katha, Natan Bheda, eight types of classical dances, Gharanas of Kathak, the usage of various parts of the body and the varied looks, single and double hand gestures, merits and demerits of a Kathak (it should be qualities necessary for a dancer),varied Kathak terms or definitions, significance of ghungroo (dancing bells), different types of taals (rhythm), laya and laykari, different types of musical instruments and the importance of tabla, Sangeet Gayaki, different types of music, taal paddhati as founded by Pt VN Bhatkhande and Pt VD Paluskar, profiles of great mentors and exponents of Kathak, the national awards and the repertoire of a Kathak performance and much more.

Marami Medhi says, "From the beginning of my Kathak journey, I faced many problems regarding the collection of theoretical content. As a result I decided to write this book since it is very useful for all students of Kathak and all the readers who would like to know about what is Kathak dance."

Marami Medhi is an accomplished Kathak exponent and has founded Sur Sangam in Guwahati to take the legacy forward and also to inspire young aspirants to learn Kathak. Marami was initially trained by Guru Charoo Bardoloi and was privileged to learn further from Dr Surendra Saikia of Kathak Kendra, UP Sangeet Natak Akademi, Lucknow, and has attended the workshops of Pt Birju Maharaj. She completed her Nritya Nipun in Music in 1994 and is an A grade artiste of Doordarshan. She was awarded a two year fellowship in 2000 from the department of culture, Government of India and is an empanelled artiste of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). Marami has performed for some of the most prestigious festivals both in India and abroad like the Kathak Samaroh in Lucknow, Vasantotsav in New Delhi, Khajuraho Festival etc.

Debasish Talukdar is a young and dynamic tabla maestro, music researcher and vocalist. He is the disciple of Ustad Julfikar Hussain of Lucknow Gharana.

Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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