Brijmohan Nath Mishra, popularly known as Kathak maestro PT BIRJU MAHARAJ, passed away in New Delhi (Feb 4, 1938 - 17 Jan 2022), aged 83. He was the torchbearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of the Lucknow style of Kathak.
Birju Maharaj was the son of Pt Achhan Maharaj, and performed with his father till he passed away when Birju was just 9. He then trained under his uncles Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj. Birju started teaching Kathak at the age of thirteen at the Sangeet Bharati in New Delhi. He then taught at Bharatiya Kala Kendra, later the Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, where he remained head of the latter till his retirement in 1998 when he opened his own dance school Kalashram in Delhi.
Even in the early part of his career, he was part of cultural troupes sent abroad by the Government of India. In the 1970s, full length mythological and historical dance dramas were the norm. Some that he choreographed include Katha Raghunath Ki, Krishnayan, Roopmati Baajbahadur. Mughal themes depicted were Darbar-e-Salaami, Shaahi Mehfil, etc. In the 1980s some excellent abstract and purely rhythmic compositions were made -Laya Parikrama, Naad Gunjan, Ghunghru Sangeet, etc. Humorous ones like Samachar Darpan, File Katha and sensitive ones like Anamya were appreciated for their unusual ideas. He spent every day in creating something new and giving shape to new ideas. A master storyteller, he interlaced his performances with incidents from his life that captivated the audience. He tried to incorporate mathematics and numbers into the dance form so that children could easily connect to the difficult intricacies of Kathak.
Apart from being a talented Kathak dancer, he was an equally prolific singer, poet and painter. In the sphere of music, he was a composer and a singer par excellence known for his command over thumri, bhajan, dadra, and ghazal styles of singing. He was also proficient in drums, tabla, and Naal (wooden two-headed drum). He could play many string instruments - sitar, sarod, violin, sarangi with ease, though he never underwent any formal training.
In the film field, he composed the music and sang for two dance sequences in Satyajit Ray's 'Shatranj ke Khilari' and choreographed the song “Kaahe Chhed Mohe” from the 2002 film version of 'Devdas.' Birju Maharaj choreographed for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Devdas', 'Vishwaroopam', 'Dedh Ishqiya', 'Gadar', 'Janisar' and 'Bajirao Mastani'. He won the National Film Award (2013) as the best choreographer in 'Vishwaroopam' and a Filmfare Award for 'Bajirao Mastani' (2016).
He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1964) when he was just 28 and the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civil honour (1986), Kalidas Samman, Nritya Choodamani, Andhra Ratna, Nritya Vilas, Adharshila Shikhar Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Shiromani Samman, Rajiv Gandhi Peace Award to name a few. He was also a Fellow of the SNA. He was conferred with Honorary Doctorate degrees from Banares Hindu University and Khairagarh University.
Birju Maharaj has hundreds of disciples who are actively pursuing Kathak all over the globe. The Kathak maestro has left a legacy that will continue to captivate people through the years to come.
Kathak guru and choreographer of the Lucknow gharana, GURU MUNNALAL SHUKLA (born 7 Dec 1943) passed away on January 11, 2022. He was a grandson of Kathak maestro Achhan Maharaj, and a nephew of Birju Maharaj.
Shukla received his initial training in Kathak from his father Sunder Lal Shukla. In 1960, Munna Shukla moved to Delhi to be with his great uncle, Kathak maestro Shambhu Maharaj, maternal uncle Birju Maharaj and brother in law Manika Prasad, a brilliant tabla percussionist. It was with Manika ji that Munna Shukla began his training in tabla. In 1964, he was awarded National scholarship for advanced training in Kathak by the government of India. He became the Ganda Bandh shagird of Birju Maharaj and for the next three years underwent rigorous training as a soloist, apart from participating regularly in his Guru's group compositions.
He moved to Pune in 1968. The next seven years saw him imparting training to the advanced students of Kathak at Kala Chaya, Pune. His choreographic works in Pune include Taal Maala, Taal Chakra, Him Raja. Rajput Ramani, Shahi Mehfil, Hindola, Kaliya Daman, Bansi Leela and Shyam Bansuria. He contributed to the Poona Film Institute and Marathi Theatre as well. In 1975, he joined Shri Ram Bhartiya Kendra as a member of the teaching faculty. One year later he was called to join the Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, to join its teaching faculty. Over the years he trained several artistes, a number of whom are active in the field as solo artistes. In 2007, after retiring from Kathak Kendra, he was invited to join the Shri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra, New Delhi.
In 2012, A documentary 'Arpan' was produced and directed by his disciple Ruchi Saini around the works and personality of her guru. From 2015, Munna Shukla imparted Kathak training at Saraswati Music College. An expert resource-person with Nehru Yuvak Kendra Sangthan, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and Spic Macay, he was associated with Nalanda VishvaVidyalaya as Visiting Professor. His expertise proved very useful to framing of policy in some of the prominent cultural institutions of the country. Nalanda University, Mumbai run by Dr. Kanak Rele invited Munna Shukla's inputs in course designing of North Indian Taal and Aesthetics of Kathak.
His awards include Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1988), Sarangdeo Award by Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai (1989), Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman (2003), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2006), Saraswati Samman (2011), Rasheswar Saikia Borbayan Sattriya Award (2018).
He will be really missed for his great knowledge and his huge contribution to Kathak.
Scholar, critic and great connoisseur of performing arts, especially Kerala forms, KANJOOR KRISHNAN NAMBOODIRIPAD passed away on Jan 1, 2022. He was 97.
KALIDAS SAMMAN for 2019-2020 conferred by Cultural Ministry of Madhya Pradesh goes to Shanta and VP Dhananjayan (Chennai) and Sunaina Hazarilal (Mumbai). It carries a purse of Rs.2 lakhs.
Kerala Kalamandalam announces its awards for 2020.
Koodiyattam maestro Ammannur Parameswaran (Kuttan) Chakyar and Kathakali Sangeetham maestro Cherthala Thankappa Panicker won the FELLOWSHIPS that carry a cash award of Rs.50,000, citation and silk shawl.
The KERALA KALAMANDALAM AWARD that carries a purse of Rs.30,000 and citation goes to: Margi Vijayakumar (Kathakali vesham); Kalamandalam KP Achuthan (Kathakali sangeetham); Kalamandalam Rajan (chenda); Kalamandalam Achutha Warrier (maddalam); Appunni Tharakan (chutti); Sarojini Nangiyaramma (Koodiyattam); Pallavi Krishnan (Mohiniyattam); Kunjan Smarakam Shankaranarayan (Thullal); NK Madhusoodhanan (mridangam); Madhathilathu Govindankutty Nair (ASN Nambeesan Puraskaram for panchavadyam).
Critic KB Raj Anand gets the MKK Nair Samagra Sambhavana Puraskaram (overall contribution); Kalamandalam Aiswarya KA gets the Yuva Prathiba Award. Winners of various endowments include Adv. CK Narayanan Namboodiri (Mukundaraja Smrithi Puraskaram); Sumitha Nair (Kalaratnam Endowment); Kalamandalam Krishnendu (Painkulam Ramachakyar Samraka Puraskaram); Maruthorvattam Kannan (Vadakkan Kannan Nair Asan Smruthi Puraskaram); Karivalloor Ratnakumar (KS Divakaran Nair Smaraka Sougandikam Puraskaram); Kalamandalam Anilkumar P (VS Sharma Endowment); Nedumpalli Rammohan (Bhagavathar Kunjunni Thampuran Endowment); Kalamandalam Gopinatha Prabha (Killimangalam Vasudevan Namboodirippad Smaraka Award); and Janaka Shankar P (Brahmasree Pakaravur Chithran Namboodirippad Birth Centenary Memorial Endowment).
Bijayini Satpathy is the MetLiveArts Artist in Residence at the @metmuseum in 2022. During her residency, Satpathy will collaborate with a range of artists and Met curators and explore unexpected areas of the Museum's collection, with a special focus on Modern and Contemporary Art.
The KARNATAKA KALASHREE AWARD for 2021 - 2022 was conferred by Sangeeta Nrithya Academy, Govt of Karnataka, on D Keshava (based in Switzerland), Padmaja Suresh, Kamalaksha Achar, Vidya Ravishankar and Balasubramanya Sharma (vocal for dance) on January 14, 2022 at Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bengaluru.
KARNATAKA KALASHREE, the State's highest honour for dance, was awarded by Karnataka Sangeeta Nrithya Academy for 2020 - 2021to MADHU NATARAJ and PRAVEEN KUMAR for their contributions to dance, on January 14, 2022 at the Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bengaluru.
Dr. I Wayan Dibia, from Denpasar, Bali, is to be awarded the Padma Shri. Bali's most influential Kecak dancer and scholar in the traditional Indonesian art form depicting chapters of the Ramayana, he heads his own dance company, GEOKS, acclaimed for its inventive dance creations.
Sonal Mansingh, Jatin Goswami, K.Kalyanasundaram Pillai, Radha Sridhar, Pasumurthy Ramalinga Sastry, Parameswaran Kuttan Chakkiyar, Surupa Sen, Gopika Varma
The General Council of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, New Delhi at its meeting held on 26 June 2019 at Guwahati, Assam unanimously elected eminent personalities in the field of performing arts. The honour of Akademi Fellow carries a purse money of Rupees three lakh and Akademi Award carries Rupees one lakh besides a Tamrapatra and Angavastram.
-AKADEMI RATNA / AKADEMI FELLOW
Zakir Hussain, Sonal Mansingh, Jatin Goswami and K.Kalyanasundaram Pillai, for Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellow.
The General Council also selected 44 artists from the field of Music, Dance, Theatre, Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre, Puppetry and Overall contribution/scholarship in the Performing Arts for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for the year 2018. These 44 artists include three joint awards.
Dance: nine eminent artists have been selected for the Akademi Awards 2018, namely, Radha Sridhar for Bharatanatyam, Ishira & Maulik Shah (Joint Award) for Kathak, Akham Lakshmi Devi for Manipuri, Pasumurthy Ramalinga Sastry for Kuchipudi, Surupa Sen for Odissi, Tankeswar Hazarika Borbayan for Sattriya, Gopika Varma for Mohiniattam, Tapan Kumar Pattanayak for Chhau, Deepak Mazumdar for Contemporary Dance.
Theatre: Bhagawat A.S.Nanjappa -Yakshagana, A.M.Parameswaran Kuttan Chakkiyar -Kutiyattam.
Folk, puppetry: Anupama Hoskere, Puppetry (String), Karnataka, Hem Chandra Goswami, Mask Making, Assam.
Overall Contribution/Scholarship in the Performing Arts: Diwan Singh Bajeli and Puru Dadhich
Highlights ; Obituaries