Eminent arts critic Dr. S.D. DESAI (Sureshbhai D Desai) passed away (2 Nov 1937 - 13 Dec 2022) after a cardiac arrest at Zydus Hospital, Ahmedabad. He was 85. Dr. S.D. Desai, a professor of English, has been a Performing Arts critic for many years. Among the dance journals he contributed to are Narthaki, Sruti, Nartanam and Attendance. His books have been published by Gujarat Sahitya Academy, Oxford University Press and Rupa. For 30 years, he was with a national English daily, and then became a freelance art writer. He was a regular contributor to Narthaki, and his insightful coverage of events in Ahmedabad will be much missed. Sincere condolences from the Narthaki team to the near and dear ones of Dr. Desai.
Seraikella Chhau artiste and guru Pt. Gopal Prasad Dubey (June 25, 1957 - Nov 14, 2022) has passed away aged 65. Born in Seraikella, a small town in Jharkhand, Gopal P. Dubey started training in the art form at the early age of 9 years. His grandfather Shashi Bhushan Dubey, who initiated him to the dance form was an actor in the Royal court of Seraikella. The young Dubey had his formal dance training under Guru Banbihari Pattanayak for several years before being accepted by Guru Kedarnath Sahoo as his disciple. Later he came under the guidance of Guru Suddendra Narayan Sing Deo. He trained in Modern Dance in New York in 1986 with a fellowship from the US based Asian Cultural Council.
He founded Trinetra Chhau Dance Centre in Seraikella, Jharkhand in 1985. He has worked as the faculty member in the department of Indian theatre at the Punjab University, Chandigarh. Apart from conducting workshops in India, he has taught at Kansas University, Indian University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Chungang University of Seoul, Institute of Dramatic Arts in Seoul, Theatre Group in Incheon City in S. Korea, etc. Dubey presented two classic plays, Antigone in 1984 in New York and Shakuntalam in 1987 at the Volos Theatre in Greece. His compositions were included in Bharat ek Khoj, a TV series produced by renowned film maker Shyam Benegal.
He was a Padmashri (2012) and SNA awardee (2016). He received the Jharkhand State Award in 2007 for his contributions in promoting Chhau dance. He has passed on his passion for Chhau and supporting the artists of Seraikella, Mayurbhanj and Purulia to his talented musician brother Sunil Dubey to carry the legacy forward.
Bangalore based much-in-demand dance accompanist and popular young virtuoso mridangist Lingaraju passed away after a heart attack on the morning of October 26, 2022.
KSHETRIMAYUM IBETOMBI DEVI (popularly known as dancer Ibetombi) passed away on October 20, 2022. Born on March 17, 1936 in Imphal (Manipur), Kshetrimayum Ibetombi was a well-known artiste and founded Ibetombi Dance Centre in Manipur in 1956. Her contribution in the field of Manipuri dance is immense. Her Maibi Jagoi/Maibi dance of Lai Haraoba is known worldwide. She brought the traditional ritual Maibi dance for the first time on the proscenium stage. She was dance lecturer at Banasthali Vidyapith University from 1964 – 2000 and introduced 8 years Manipuri dance course.
Kuchipudi artiste and Guru DR. ARDHANAREESWARAM VENKAT, founder of Nritya Darpana (in 1988), passed away on August 8, 2022 in Hyderabad. Born in Vizianagaram, he was trained by various gurus like Korada Narasimha Rao, Nataraja Ramakrishna, Swapnasundari, Uma Rama Rao and others.
Mudapaka Venkateswara Rao was called ‘Ardhanareeswaram’ Venkat for his dedicated efforts to revive the rare and almost extinct Kuchipudi dance item by performing it extensively on various stages across the world. He got certifications in Guinness Book of World Records, Global World Record, Limca Book of Records, two in India Book of Records, Wonder Book Record and Telugu Book of Records for accomplishing this dance feat. Venkat also learnt rare and challenging items of Kuchipudi like Simhanandini, Mayura Kouthwam, Lakshmi Avirbhavam and Nritya Bharati, in which one has to draw pictures while dancing of Mother India, Indian map, lion, peacock, lotus and bull. His most significant contributions to contemporary Kuchipudi dance scenario is the revival of certain genres and items of age-old Kuchipudi tradition that went into oblivion during recent times, like Ardhanareeswaram, Uloopi, Jakkulapurandri, Natya Hela and Simhanandini.
His PhD thesis on the comparative study of ‘Folk and Classical Traditions’ with focus on rare aspect of Telugu theatrical performances called ‘Pagati Veshalu’(day time guises) has become a landmark in the study of Indian performing arts. He received many honors including ‘Siddhendra Yogi Award’ by Govt of Andhra Pradesh, ‘Simhatalatam’ (lion-headed golden bracelet, an age-old symbol of high honour), ‘Kanakabhishekam’ (gold flower shower, an age old ritual of honour for artiste’s superior talent), etc.
Ardhanareeswaram Venkat in Guinness Book
- Augustin Kurian
- Nita Vidyarthi
Bharatanatyam teacher SAROJA KAMESWARAN, wife of late natyacharya S.K. Kameswaran, passed away on August 8, 2022 in Chennai. She was 79. She is survived by her daughter/ dancer K. Mahalakshmi. Saroja was trained initially by Bhupal, the father of dancer Swarnamukhi. She later trained under Kameswaran and married him. Saroja and her husband founded Mahalakshmi Natyalaya in 1957, teaching Bharatanatyam to many. She was also the dance teacher at Rosary Matric School for Girls in Santhome, Chennai, for over 40 years.
Editor / writer / Professor / dance and film critic, G Ulaganathan passed away at 1:15am on June 23, 2022 after a massive cardiac arrest. He was a former News Editor in Deccan Herald and Indian Express, Adjunct faculty, visiting Professor at Symbiosis School of Media & Communication, Bengaluru, and Member, Board of Studies, School of Media Studies at Pondicherry Central University. He was a regular contributor to narthaki.com. Our heartfelt condolences to his family, near and dear ones.
Veteran guru of Bharatanatyam, M.K.SAROJA KHOKAR passed away peacefully on June 13, 2022 at home in Bangalore. She was 92. She was a benchmark in Bharatanatyam of Vidwan Muthukumaran Pillai bani of Kattumunarkoil.
Remembering M.K. Saroja, who put Bharatanatyam on the global stage
- S Sahaya Ranjit
Madras Kadiravelu Saroja died on June 13 after decades of pioneering contribution to Indian classical dance.
Bharatanatyam Guru B HERAMBANATHAN passed away of a heart attack on May 10, 2022 at his home in Thanjavur. He was 80. Herambanathan was the senior most choreographer and dance teacher of the Thanjavur nattuvanga tradition. He was the son of T.G. Bhavu Pillai (a Bharatanatyam teacher, mridangist and Bhaghavata Mela drama teacher who was a much sought after accompanist to dancers of the past) and Jeeva Amma (a dancer). He was the son-in-law of devadasi Doraikannu and hailed from a lineage of devadasis belonging to the Thanjavur region.
He trained under his father, T.M. Arunachalam Pillai and K.P. Kittappa Pillai in Bharatanatyam, under N. Rajam Iyer in mridangam, under Balu Bhagavathar and P.K. Subbaiyer in Bhagavata Mela. He began his career as a Bharatanatyam choreographer from 1967. He accompanied as mridangist for the arangetrams of his father's students. The arangetram of his first student S. Rohini was held under the presidentship of K.P. Kittappa Pillai on Feb 8, 1970 in Thanjavur. He served as a teacher for the Melattur and Saliyamangalam Bhagavata Mela dance programs.
From 1973 onwards, Herambanathan had the honour of being co-choreographer along with K.P. Kittappa Pillai and his father. After the passing away of his father, he choreographed many dance dramas for more than 3 decades. From 1986, he undertook overseas tours, training many students in Bharatanatyam, dance dramas and presenting their arangetrams. His magnum opus is the dance drama choreographed on the significance of 'Kasika Ekadesi' of the Kaisika Puranam sacred in the Vaishnava tradition.
In 1989, he established Thanjavur Bavu Pillai School of Bharatanatyam in Thanjavur in memory of his father. His noted choreographies include Subhadra Kalyanam, Sivan Malai Kuravanji, Sarabendra Bhoopala Kuravanji, Sakuntalam, Kamsa Vadham. Creative styles in dance drama include Andal, Paravaiyar Udal, Kandhan Kaviyam, Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Valli Kalyanam. Modern theater tradition includes Pennin Dhagam, Veriyaattam, Nandhan Kadhai, Kongai Thee. Apart from directing dance dramas, conducting lec-dems and organizing special programs, Herambanathan has also written articles on Bharatam and Bhagavathamelam, Rasa Pandaram, Adal Adavus in Folk Arts, Dance tradition of Thanjavur, Dance and music in temple worship. He was the recipient of the Kalaimamani (Tamilnadu) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (Delhi).Guru Herambanathan was one of the 2 pillars, along with Professor Ramanujam, who aided Dr.Anita Ratnam in the revival of the 15th century all night theatre performance of KAISIKA NATAKAM. He and his troupe have been presenting it for the past 23 years at the Thirukurungudi Azhagiya Nambi temple after its revival to much appreciation. The Narthaki family and Kaisiki family will miss Guru Herambanathan deeply.
Tribute to the Thanjavur bani torchbearer
- Padma Subrahmanyam
Guru Herambanathan did not just teach Bharatanatyam, he passed on a tradition
Santoor maestro PANDIT SHIVKUMAR SHARMA passed away on May 10, 2022 in Mumbai. He was 84. Pt Shivkumar Sharma was born in Jammu in 1938 and is believed to be the first musician to have played Indian classical music on the santoor. Sharma gave santoor, once a little known instrument from Jammu and Kashmir, a classical status and elevated it to the level of other more traditional and famous instruments like sitar and sarod.
He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, the Padma Shri in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001. Composer of both classical and popular music, he was one half of musician duo Shiv-Hari and composed music with flute maestro Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia for films like Silsila, Lamhe, Chandni and Darr.
Bangalore based Bharatanatyam Guru B.K. SHYAM PRAKASH (Retd. scientist ISRO, Founder/Principal of Keshava College of Music and Dance, and director of Keshava Nrithyashala) passed away on May 6, 2022. Coming from an illustrious family of dance gurus, he took the tradition to new heights. He performed in main roles in many of the dance dramas of Keshava Nrithyashala, and accompanied on mridangam for many music and dance concerts. He did the dance choreography for most of the dance dramas produced by Keshava Nrithyashala.
His forte was using Kannada literary works in his dance drama productions, which is what not many people have attempted. He was Honorary Secretary of Karnataka Nrithyakala Parishath for more than 10 years. He has been awarded Karnataka Kalashri and Singarmani from Sur Singar Samsad, Bombay.
Legendary Bharatanatyam Guru Indra Rajan passed away on April 29, 2022.
R SRINIVASAN, the music and dance critic for the Indian Express, who mainly covered the Sabha programs for many years, passed away on April 29, 2022 in Chennai. He was fondly referred to as RS. He served in the TTD Zonal Advisory Committee on arts and culture in Chennai, where he helped to arrange dance and music programs at the TTD centre regularly.
Odiya musician PRAFULLA KAR (16 February 1939 - April 17, 2022) passed away in Bhubaneswar aged 83. He was a composer, singer, lyricist and writer. He has composed music for numerous Odissi dance presentations. His composition 'Collection of Geet Govindam' is well known. Prafulla Kar has worked as music director and often as singer in 70 Oriya films as well as in 4 Bangla films.
He received many awards including Jayadeva Award (2004), Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja Award (2009), Balakrushna Das Award (2010), Parampara Award (2012), Padma Shri (2015) for his contribution in the field of arts. Prafulla Kar Samman is awarded to different singers every year to celebrate his birthday in a two-day musical event.
Born in Kimberly, South Africa, Nan Melville was a photographer and videographer based in New York City, specializing in performing arts photography. She passed away on March 20, 2022 aged 72. She worked for the NY Times, Juilliard, World Music Institute and for ‘Dancing the Gods’ Festival. She has captured images of visiting Indian artistes including Nrityagram and is known for her short documentary ‘Nrityagram: For the Love of Dance.’
THANJAI A HEMNATH, eldest son of Thanjai M. Arunachalam Pillai, passed away due to heart attack on March 17, 2022 in Chennai. He trained students in Thanjavur bani of Bharatanatyam and in nattuvangam through Shanmugananda Bharathanatya Palli which was founded by his father. He also served as a Bharatanatyam lecturer in Tamilnadu Government Music College.
SANTHA BHASKAR, one of the leading torch bearers of Indian classical dance in Singapore and co-founder of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, passed away on February 26, 2022 in Singapore, aged 82.
She was the chief choreographer and artistic director at Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, which was founded by her husband K.P. Bhaskar in 1952 and which she first joined as an instructor. In 1968, she even modelled for and was featured on a Singapore stamp. She was also advisor to Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society. Watching Chinese dance, Malay dance, and other international dance forms influenced her choreography. She was in the midst of directing the events at Stamford Arts Centre for the second evening of Sangeetha Sapthathi, the show celebrating Bhaskar’s Arts Academy’s 70th anniversary when she was suddenly taken ill and breathed her last in the hospital.
She was awarded the prestigious Cultural Medallion in 1990, the Public Service Star in 2016, the Meritorious Service Medal and inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2021. Santha also received the Natya Rani Award in 1975 by the Singapore Indian Film and Dramatic Society and the Kala Ratna Award by the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Association.
Dance doyenne Santha Bhaskar, 82, was multicultural pioneer
- Ong Sor Fern
Born in Kozhikode, Kerala in 1923, dancer and theatre artiste BHANUMATHI RAO, mother of dancer/theatre artiste Maya Krishna Rao, passed away on February 12, 2022 aged 98. Bhanumathi first trained in Kathakali and later in Bharatanatyam. She has performed with Ram Gopal’s troupe and Bhaskar Roy Chowdury in the UK and US. Filmmaker RV Ramani has made a documentary on Bhanumathi titled ‘Oh That’s Bhanu.’
Ahead of her time
- Gayathri Iyer
The evergreen dancer and theatre artiste passed away aged 98.
MENAKA BHANUCHANDRA THAKKAR (March 3, 1942 - February 5, 2022) passed away in Toronto after complications from Alzheimer’s.
Menaka’s life was devoted to dance. Born in Bombay, she started learning at a young age, training in the Indian classical dance styles of Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi.
Menaka’s training in Bharatanatyam began at the age of four with older sister Sudha Thakkar Khandwani in the Kalakshetra style. She then continued advanced training more generally in the Pandanallur style with Guru Nana Kasar. During the tenure of a three-year Fellowship Award by Bharat Sangeet Sabha of Bombay, she studied with Guru Tanjavur Kadhirvelu Pillai; and later, on intensive visits to Madras every year she studied abhinaya with Guru Kalanidhi Narayan and a wide variety of rare works of the Tanjore repertoire with Guru Kitappa Pillai, who was the last surviving descendant of the celebrated “Tanjore Quartet” of the 18th century.
Menaka studied classical Odissi, first in Bombay with Guru Ramaniranjan Jena, and then in Cuttack, Orissa with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. She continued training with him during periodic visits. She studied Kuchipudi initially with Guru C.R. Acharyalu of Ahmedabad, and later with Guru Vempatti Chinna Satyam.
She was an established dancer and dance teacher when she moved to Canada in 1972. Soon after arriving in Toronto, she started Nrtyakala Academy of Dance, which would train generations of young Indo-Canadians. Its graduates formed the core of her professional Menaka Thakkar Dance Company. Performing all over Canada, Menaka helped introduce classical Indian dance to the Canadian arts scene. She also choreographed a large number of original works. Many of these productions, often in collaboration with some of Canada’s finest dancers, provided opportunities for the cross-pollination of Indian and Western dance.
Menaka’s accomplishments were recognized by many honours over the years, including an honorary DLitt from York University, the Canada Council’s Walter Carsen Prize, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement in dance, and induction in the DCD Dance Hall of Fame.
A cheerful and positive person, her smile said it all. She was inclusive and helpful to visiting Indian artists. She was loved by her students and will be fondly remembered by them and by her dance colleagues.
Siblings helped classical Indian dance flourish in Canada
- Aparita Bhandari
Throughout their lives, siblings Menaka and Rasesh Thakkar lived up to their names.
G.SUNDARI of Kalakshetra passed away on the morning of February 3, 2022 in a comfortable home in Chennai. She was 93 years old. She served Kalakshetra as Superintendent of studies, was Secretary to Rukmini Devi and Sankara Menon till she retired. She was a close friend of N.Ram of The Hindu. She had her education in Besant Theosophical High School. After post graduation, she joined Kalakshetra assisting Rukmini Devi and Sankara Menon to build the institution. Her dedicated service to the institution is laudable. She lived in the Theosophical Society in Adyar, Chennai, for a long time. She was instrumental in helping publish 3 books on the Kalakshetra stalwarts: ‘Nirmalam: The genius of S Sarada,’ ‘Sankara Menon Purushothaman,’ and ‘Krishnaveni of Kalakshetra.’
Thanks to Preetha Reddy (of Apollo Hospitals), Sundari Teacher as she is popularly known, had a good and very comfortable old age care in a Home for the last few years. With her demise, another important branch of the Banyan Tree falls.
G. Sundari of Kalakshetra
- VP Dhananjayan
Ati Sundar-i: A personal homage
- Ashish Mohan Khokar
Koodiyattam and Chakyar Koothu artiste MANI DAMODARA CHAKYAR, nephew and disciple of Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar, passed away in early February 2022 aged 76. He was a member of Mani Madhava Chakyar’s troupe that performed Koodiyattam all over India. He was the first Koodiyattam student to receive scholarship from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, New Delhi. Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy awarded him for his contributions to Chakyar Koothu and Koodiyattam (2000). He received the Kerala Kalamandalam V S Sharma Endowment Award for 2007. In 2017, he was honoured with Kalamandalam Award for Koodiyattam.
The nayaka of Koodiyattam
- Sreevalsan Thiyyadi
Mani Damodara Chakyar kept the family legacy alive through his performances.
MILENA SALVINI passed away in Paris on January 25, 2022 aged 88. She was an Italian-born French exponent and teacher of Indian classical dance. A trained classical dancer of Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam from Kerala Kalamandalam, she had a whole lot of performances to her credit. Especially known for her services to Kathakali, in 2019 she was awarded the Padma Shri and ICCR Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015 (in absentia). She dedicated her life to Indian culture and Indian classical dances.
In 1962, Salvini got a two-year scholarship to train in Kathakali at the Kerala Kalamandalam. Upon her return to France, she established a tour by the Kathakali troupe of the Kalamandalam under the auspices of UNESCO. She married Roger Filipuzzi, an architect in 1974. Salvini and Filipuzzi opened the Mandapa Centre in Paris in 1975 to teach classical dance. She provided a platform for Indian classical dance in Paris and it soon became a legendary venue for every Indian classical dancer.
In 1980, she arranged for the Kalamandalam's Kutiyattam troupe to travel to Europe with funding from UNESCO. In 1999, another Kutiyattam tour she organised contributed in making Kutiyattam enter the list of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. She has written books and produced films on Kathakali and Kutiyattam. The dance world has lost a pioneering artiste, a dance impresario, and a visionary institution builder.
Salvini’s daughters Isabelle Anna and Maria Kiran are Kathak and Bharatanatyam dancers respectively.
Mumbai based veteran costume designer Ghulam Rasool, popularly known as Ghulam Bhai, passed away on January 25, 2022. He was 80.
Renowned archaeologist, Indic scholar, epigraphist, and an expert in both Sanskrit and Tamil classical literature, Dr. R. NAGASWAMY passed away on January 23, 2022. He was 91. He is known for his work on temple inscriptions and art history of Tamil Nadu. Nagaswamy served as curator for art and archaeology in the Government Museum in Chennai from 1959 to 1963. In 1963, he was appointed assistant special officer for archaeology for Tamil Nadu state. From 1966 to 1988, he served as a Director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department. He was instrumental in starting the annual Chidambaram Natyanjali festival in 1980. He was honored with Padma Bhushan in 2018. He authored numerous books, among them Art and Culture of Tamil Nadu, Tantric Cult in Tamil Nadu, The sensuous and the sacred: Chola bronzes from South India (co-authored), Vedic Roots of Hindu Iconography, Masterpieces of Chola Art, Tamil Nadu: the Land of Vedas.
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.
TRIBUTES TO PT BIRJU MAHARAJ
Kathakali maestro KALAMANDALAM KUTTAN (born in 1938) passed away in Kerala on January 13, 2022 a month short of turning 84. He was known as Dakshan Kuttan as he was popular in the role of Daksha. He received several awards including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2008) and Kerala State Kathakali Award (2019).
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.