Sitara Devi : A legendary Kathak danseuse (GS paper I : Art and Culture )

Context : 

  • A legendary  Kathak danseuse Sitara Devi would be honoured and remembered through a biopic produced by Raj C Anand of Raj Anand Movies after the announcement by the producer. It was announced on the 101 the birth anniversary of Sitara Devi (8th Nov )

Who was Sitara Devi : 

  • Sitara Devi was a renowned kathak dancer born in Calcutta on 8th Nov 1920 . Her original name was Dhanlaxmi because she was born on the occasion of Diwali . Her family belonged to Royal Family of Nepal

  • Apart from kathak dancing she was expert in singing and acting also

  • She was not recognised in India only but she earned fame at international level also 

  • She received many honours and awards like Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Padm Shri, Kalidas Samman and Nritya Nipuna, Indian lifetime achievement award also . She refused to accept Padma Bhushan award (The third biggest civilian award) and stated that she would not accept any award less than Bharat Ratna  because this would be her insult if her juniors were awarded with Padm Vibhusan and bharat ratna award . 

  • She was honored at various stages (daisies/forum) including Royal Albert Hall, London (1967) and at the Carnegie Hall, New York (1976). 

  • She passed away by 25th Nov 2014.

Works of the Sitara Devi :

  • She had been an eminent dancer of kathak and evolved many new steps of kathak, a traditional dance of northern India 

  • She not only revived Kathak but also inspired this new generation towards kathak . Ravindra nath tagore entitled her as Nratya Smarajni

  • He performed dances in various Hindi films also . Some of her notable films are Shaher Ka jadu, Judgement of Allah , Nagina, Bhagwan, watan , Meri aankhe, Aaj ka Hindustan , pooja , jindagi , Roti, Dukh sukh (all the films done before India’s freedom). She performed a dance in the famous movie Mother India (in a Holi song) . She also trained many Hindi film actress like Mathubala, rekha , mala Sinha and kajol in Kathak 

What is kathak :

  • This is a form of Indian classical dance popular in northern India . It is popular in both Hindu and Muslim Gharanas equally . 

  • The term kathak is derived from Kathakaras which means storytellers . These Kathakars wandered around and communicated legendary stories via music, dance and songs quite like the early Greek theatre.

  • The roots of the Kathak can be found in the ancient Text Natya Shastra of Bharat Muni . It evolved in India during the 3rd – 4th century BC and gradually it spreaded throughout India . 

  • This dance achieved its zenith when the concept of Bhakti came to existence. To pray to the god, people used the medium of dance and singing in their local languages . In uttar pradesh thi dance had become popular during 13th and 14th century . The development of Kathak during the era of Bhakti movement predominantly focussed on the legends of Lord Krishna and his eternal love Radhika or Radha found in texts like the ‘Bhagavata Purana’ which were spectacularly performed by the Kathak artists.

  •  After the Mughal Period This form of Indian dance had declined but artists like Sitara devi again revived this form of dance during the 20th century. 

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