Sitara Devi was an outstanding danseuse who amazed millions of art lovers by her brilliant skill in Kathak style of classical dance.She was popularly known as 'Kathak Queen' because of her proficiency in this style of dance.She became an exponent of Kathak dance but was well versed in other classical dance varieties like Bharatanatyam and also many folk dance varieties in India.She even learnt Russian ballet and Western dance as well.Sitara Devi also acted and danced in many films.
She was born as 'Dhanalakshmi' on 8th November 1920 in Calcutta.She belonged to a Brahmin family of Varanasi and later they settled in Calcutta.
Her father Sukhdev Maharaj was a classical dancer who loved Kathak style of dancing a lot.At that period Kathak style of dancing was not viewed as an elite form of dance and were not trained by students of respecetd families.He decided to elevate the status of 'Kathak' and with this intention he trained his own daughters this dance form thoroughly with all details.When his daughters performed this dance forms in public some other students from respected families also came forward to learn Kathak from her father 'Guru Sukhdev Maharaj'.Gradually those who viewed Kathak with contempt changed their minds and this dance variety also earned reputation.Sitara Devi's elder sister Tara was also a well famed Kathak dancer.Tara is the mother of famous Kathak dancer 'Gopi Krishna'.Later Sitara devi earned further training in Kathak dance from 'Guru Shambu and Guru Lachchu Maharaj'.
When Sitara was eleven years old her family shifted to Mumbai.When Sitara Devi gave a Kathak performance before a select audience of dignitaries including Rabindranath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu, she received much accolades.Rabindranath Tagore described her as 'Natya Samragini' which means 'the Empress of Dance.(Kathak Queen).The impressed Rabindranath Tagore gave her gifts and blessings to become a great dancer.
When she was twelve years old 'Niranjan Sharma' a film maker and director gave he chance to dance in a film.
Afterwards she acted and danced in several films like 'Usha Haran(40),Holi,Pagal,Pooja,Nagina(51),Roti(42)Phool(44),Vatan(54),Anjali(57),Mother India' etc.She was the lead player of Watan in 1938 and she acted as lead actress in many other films.She sung songs also in many films.
She had performed at many concerts and festivals in India and abroad including the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1967, and Carnegie Hall,New York in 1976.She was recipient of several prestigious Awards including 'Padma Shri in 1973, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1959,Kalidas Samman in 1995 and Nritya Nipuna Award.
Sitara Devi Kathak dance to celebrities like 'Madhubala,Rekha,Mala Sinha,Kajol' etc.
Sitara devi who inspired millions of art lovers with the acting skill which she presented in many films and also through the vibrant form of Kathak as well as other Classic dance forms passed away on 25th November 2014.
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