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Veteran critic Satish Mehta no more
- Vijay Shanker

February 11, 2021

Veteran dance critic, Mumbai based Satish Mehta, left for his heavenly abode, on the afternoon on 9th February 2021, after a heart attack. He was 86 and a bachelor, who lived in Virar, one of the western suburbs of Mumbai, during his later years in a rented flat. He was a Gujarati, was connected with several cultural organizations and would regularly attend dance festivals around India and abroad, in spite of his physical handicap of polio in one of his legs.

For more than five decades, Satish has been writing reviews and interviews with classical dancers for varied publications, mainly in Gujarati and sometimes in Hindi. He was a regular columnist for popular Gujarati newspapers like 'Janmabhumi' and 'Pravasi.' During the start of my career as a freelance writer, while I was still studying, I remember visiting his office in Nariman Point. He was serving in the accounts department of Shipping Corporation of India. After his office work, he would regularly attend dance programs. He was quite fascinated by beautiful dancers and polished performances and he would immediately exclaim, "Lovely!" He once told me, "While I was serving in SCI, I wanted to attend a dance festival in an Asian country, so I approached my boss for a concession in my travel. When my boss knew of my intention, after reading my articles, he was quite impressed and said that SCI is proud to have a critic like me. Hence I was entitled to free travel every year. I have visited more than 30 countries, but am particularly fascinated by Asian countries and their arts like the Sri Lankan dances or the Balinese dances."

Satish Mehta was the founder and president of Nritya Aradhana Research Centre in Mumbai, which is headed by Bharatanatyam exponent and chartered accountant Ragini Chokshi. Ragini says, "Satish bhai was such a simple soul, really sattvik in his outlook. His only passion was to attend classical dance performances and promote real talent. Due to his initiation, we established Nritya Aradhana and we used to regularly organize dance festivals. Since he used to travel a lot, whenever he witnessed any young talent, he would be excited and invited the dancer for a performance in Mumbai and I would support him fully. It is really difficult to find a person like him so devoted to the arts, without any tall claims."

MK Patel, secretary of Sur Singar Samsad and head of Patel Cultural Foundation, says, "Satish was always there to support me financially, as it was not easy to organize festivals without any corporate support. He was the first to give me a loan, since I started the Girnar Festival in Junagadh (Gujarat) and that helped me in meeting the initial expense of the festival. I will miss his presence, as he was kind hearted and always willing to encourage artistes. I pray to God that his soul may rest in peace."

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

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