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Biggest Kathak event of year to bestow Pt Birju Maharaj crown | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

In the biggest Kathak event of the year, the Pt Birju Maharaj crown will be presented by the maestro himself on December 21 to the winner of the Kalashram Kathak contest showcasing finalists from Kolkata, Mumbai, Guwahati, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Delhi and Ahmedabad.

Speaking about the power packed grand finale which he is himself choreographing, the legend Pt Birju Maharaj told DNA: “The dedication that these young exponents bring to the contest fill me with hope for the future of kathak. It is invigorating to work with them and I look forward to working with them on the choreography.”

The intensive interactive edge-of-the-seat contest will have rapid fire rounds with Charu Sharma informed Maharaj's senior disciple Saswati Sen. Herself a leading kathak exponent who has achieved early fame by dancing in Satyajit Ray's film, Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) she said she and Maharaj were toying with the idea ever since choreographer-filmmaker Remo D'Souza approached Maharaj to ask him and his troupe to appear on a dance reality show. “In the beginning Maharaj was reluctant wondering if this is the right kind of platform but later when I cajoled him he agreed.”

She spoke of how overjoyed he was at the response he was getting from dance enthusiasts and lovers across age groups. “The response from really young dancers has been overwhelmingly huge and the elimination rounds proved really tough given the level of talent.”

Maharaj admitted his collaborations with film projects like Devdas (Kaahe ched ched mohe), Vishwaroopam (Unnai Kaanadhu Naan), Dedh Ishqiya (Jagaave Saari Raina) and Bajirao Mastani (Mohe Rang Do Laal) have led to a renewed interest in the kathak as a genre. “But through this contest we want them to get to see the real beauty of the dance form and not only the one which they see on screen. Once they see the actual hard work that goes into the footwork and facial expressions their appreciation for the dance goes up manifold,” he pointed out.

He admitted that often some teachers watered down the grammar of the genre and taught things which were not pure enough. “I am happy that the 16 finalists and the winner in this contest will actually learn the real thing and take it to audiences in their own respective towns and regions,” he beamed.

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