- Dr. Sunil Kothari
Photos courtesy: Subodh Rathod
October 14, 2015
Kathak dancer Sudarshan Dheer hailed from Punjab and settled in Mumbai and later in the UK, teaching in far off places like London, Slough and Glasgow. He took lessons in Kathak from Ashiq Hussain in Benaras Gharana and also from Hazarilal, husband of Sunayana Hazarilal, who taught Kathak at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai. He also worked with Gopi Krishna for a while in Mumbai.
He gave regular recitals participating in dance conferences in India. Later on he moved to London and taught at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Bhavan’s London branch. When he was teaching there, an accomplished Kathak exponent Subodh Rathod who later became an ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) choreographer, studied under him. He choreographed ‘Meera’ the first dance drama for them in the UK, featuring his daughter Rashmi as Meera and Subodh Rathod performed as Krishna. (Subodh also studied under Pratap Pawar, Kirshan Kumar - in bhav batana – and Maya Rao apart from Dheer).
There’s a Film Division documentary online where he danced with Roshan Kumari (Uma Sharma and Damayanti Joshi were also featured). Since he belonged to Benaras gharana to which Gopi Krishna also belonged, one could see that Sudarshan used to perform with great energy, mainly tandava. In the YouTube link, he is seen performing tandava with Kaliya Mardan kavit.
Besides giving regular classical Kathak performances, he also danced in number of Hindi films and one English film. His wife Jaya was the first dancer to learn Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in Mumbai. Sudarshan and Jaya taught in Glasgow but they were based in Slough for a number of years. He also performed with their daughter Rashmi in London and Europe. In India he had participated in Dekh Teri Bambai, Indian National Theater’s modern dance drama, choreographed by Parvati Kumar.
Niranjan and Subodh, as part of Wise Thoughts, worked on productions with them in Slough – ‘Against all odds’ for physically challenged people, and also as part of Slough creative partnerships for the Arts Council, England.
He passed away after a protracted illness on October 3, 2015. He is survived by his wife Jaya and daughters Rashmi and Rachana.
Dr. Sunil Kothari is a dance historian, scholar, author and dance critic.
Very sad to have read regarding the passing of Guruji. I was very fortunate to have been taught by him at the London Bhavan. Remember those days with great fondness. RIP, Guruji. Love,
- Indira (April 25, 2016)
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