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Anant Ladha: A Man With A Mission

With a mission to spread financial literacy, finance creator Anant Ladha sits down with us for a quick chat on what drives him forward.

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Anant Ladha, Interview, Content Creator, Invest Aaj For kal, Finfluencer, Financial Literacy, Finance

In this fast-paced world of technology, it’s hard to remain consistent. With changing algorithms and trends how can you remain consistent and relevant? And with everyday living prices going up daily, it’s hard to stick to your ethics. This is exactly when content creators like Anant Ladha with their YouTube channel Invest Aaj For Kal bring a refreshing change in this ever-changing system.

Anant Ladha: Early Days

Born and raised in Kota, Rajasthan, Anant Ladha’s introduction to finance and the stock market happened early in life. Being the third generation in his family to enter the financial world, he was exposed to trading and the stock market just like a kid would be exposed to cartoons. This gave a good foundation upon which he built up his entire life.

Starting as just a tactic to win over his teachers and peers, Anant Ladha originally began by keeping up with the ups and downs of the stock market to impress his teachers and friends. But whatever his intentions may be, this practice helped him a lot in his career as keeping up with the stock market became a regular part of his daily routine and helped him understand the nuances of the financial market better. 

After initially starting his job at Mumbai in trading he left it to join his family business. While working there, an incident took place that changed his life forever. In his town, a company was closing down and all the employees were given around 50 lakhs corpus amount. Among them, one employee who had received this amount had invested it in an insurance scheme that wouldn’t allow him to withdraw the money until the five years were up. Desperately in need of money to support his sick wife in the hospital, the poor man showed up in tattered clothes begging Anant Ladha for money. His situation shocked Ladha and he realized that our country still is not as financially literate as he thought it was and hence he started on his mission to help convert India “from a country of savers to a country of investors.”

Invest Aaj For Kal

Starting as physical sessions, Ladha held free classes for people in certain parts of North India to help them become more financially literate. Two of his sessions were also recognised by the Rajasthan government. And everything was going fine but still, the huge financial literacy gap of the entire country was gaping widely at him. Hence, he decided to increase his target audience by going digital, leading to the inception of Invest Aaj For Kal.

Initially, for a good 1-1.5 years, his YouTube channel, Invest Aaj For Kal, didn’t do as well as he had expected. But consistent efforts, support from family and strong determination brought him to where he is today. With a little nudge from YouTube that put the spotlight on him by giving his channel the “Creator on the Rise” award in 2020, he was ready to make the most of his spotlight. From asking people to subscribe to his channel by talking about how great and informative it is without revealing that he owns the channel, to getting millions of views on every video, he has come a long way. The best part, Anant Ladha prioritises consistency over anything else and posts content regularly.

Message for Young Content Creators

Being the practical person that he is, he never blames fate or algorithms for fewer views but rather tries to find out how he can do better and revamp his content as and when required. He forever values the digital community that pushes him forward as he believes that the day he stops valuing them and takes them for granted will be the end of his career. For a man who went from working a 9-5 job to full-time content creator his definition of success changes every time he achieves something and this constant negotiation with success is the most practical way to view life.

Striking a balance between personal and professional life, Anant Ladha takes in bad comments like a pro. According to him, all his bad reviewers are truly his ardent followers as they wait to watch each of his videos just to leave bad reviews. And with this positive attitude, he leaves a message for young content creators:

“If earning money is the only objective you have through your digital journey then don’t enter this field. But if you’re objective is more than just earning money then it’s a beautiful field.”

His reasoning behind this lies in the fact that you won’t earn much in the initial years of creating content hence you must have a bigger purpose to sustain in this space for longer for yourself and your audience. 

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Interviews

Dhir Jakharia: From Dreams to Wildlife Frames

Dive into the captivating world of wildlife through the lens of Dhir Jakharia, a 20-year-old wildlife photographer, as we unravel his dreams and adventures behind the lens.

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Dhir Jakharia, wildlife, photographer, love, wildlife photography, Africa, Indian Artist

In the heart of Kenya, amidst the whispers of the wild, begins a remarkable journey. Born in the small town of Nyeri, Dhir Jakharia, a 21-year-old, grew up immersed in the rhythms of African life. Raised in the vibrant tapestry of African culture until the age of 13, Dhir Jakharia eventually moved to the capital, Nairobi. It was here that his love for photography sparked, eclipsing his childhood dreams of becoming a footballer. And his journey as a wildlife photographer began.

Embracing Change: From Football Dreams to Photography

Dhir Jakharia’s journey had a surprising twist. From dreaming of a career in professional football to unexpectedly finding his passion in photography, life had its own plans for him. His transition from an aspiring footballer to a passionate wildlife photographer was fueled by curiosity and love for nature. “I kind of just fell in love with it,” Jakharia reflects, recounting his photography journey. “Now I’m doing wildlife specifically, and I love the travelling aspect of it.”

Dhir Jakharia: Exploring Passion and Purpose

Currently pursuing Business Administration, Dhir Jakharia seamlessly combines his entrepreneurial spirit with his love for nature. “I’m a Gujarati, so I have business in my blood,” he states. Specializing in marketing, he envisions a future where his entrepreneurial spirit and artistic vision converge seamlessly. “I want to mix my photography with business,” he shares. “I’m already doing it on a small scale, selling prints and organizing photo tours.”

Through his lens, he seeks to foster awareness and empathy for the natural world. “Good photography helps to create awareness and can promote animal conservation,” he explains. Working on the logic of making people more familiar with their environment to ensure they try to conserve it, he explains further how when someone sees a picture of an elephant and likes it, they may think twice before partaking in animal cruelty.

Dhir Jakharia: Overcoming Challenges

The young photographer’s journey has not been without its share of challenges. The untimely passing of his father in 2020, and the disruptions caused by the pandemic. “Dealing with these difficulties was as difficult as you can imagine,” he reflects. “But channelling that negative energy into something constructive, that’s the biggest achievement I’ve gained from photography.”

Dhir Jakharia: Inspirations, Dreams and Beyond

Despite the hurdles he’s faced, Dhir Jakharia remains steadfast in his pursuit of excellence. Drawing inspiration from renowned photographers in the field of wildlife photography, such as Thomas Vijayan, Varun Aditya and Shaaz Jung, he continues to hone his craft with unwavering determination.

“I learned everything through YouTube,” he shares, underscoring the importance of persistence and resourcefulness in his journey. “It’s more about making the most out of what you have.”

In a field dominated by seasoned professionals, Dhir Jakharia is exceptional. “In ten years, I see myself as a full-time photographer, recognized internationally,” he shares. “But beyond success, I prioritize my mental health and relationships with family and friends.” Reflecting on his recent exhibition at the ‘Xposure International Photography & Film Festival’ in Sharjah, UAE, he speaks of his pride in being the youngest among his peers. “Inspiring people and making photography my full-time profession while living a fulfilling life—that’s my definition of success,”. Additionally, he has already left a mark in the industry by collaborating with industry giants like Sony and Adobe at the young age of 18.

Message for Young Dreamers

To aspiring dreamers embarking on unconventional paths, Dhir Jakharia offers a simple yet profound piece of advice: “Self-belief is the biggest thing. Dream big, aim for the stars—even if you fail, you’ll still reach the sky.” In the footsteps of giants and guided by his unwavering passion, Dhir Jakharia continues to weave tales of wonder through his lens, reminding us all of the magic that awaits in the embrace of nature.

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Interviews

Ganeshprasad Sridharan: Indian Education Redefined

Set to put a dent in the Indian education system, meet Ganeshprasad Sridharan; a man who left no stone unturned to right the wrongs that hindered his growth in the education system.

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Ganeshprasad Sridharan, thinkschool, quality education, indian education

How often does our education system frustrate us? And more importantly how often do we set out to rectify it rather than fitting into the one-size-fits-all mould it prescribes to us? Our education system needs some serious re-designing and there’s no point hiding it any longer. We had a conversation with Ganeshprasad Sridharan; a man who left no stone unturned to right the wrongs that hindered his growth in the education system; to understand his side of efforts to bridge the gap that exists between the present and the future, i.e., learning and getting hired via Think School.

Ganeshprasad Sridharan: The Start of It All

Born and brought up in Pune, Ganeshprasad Sridharan’s schooling was pretty similar to others with just one difference; in his school, his teachers ensured to foster the students’ critical thinking ability. He was made to think about morality on an individual level rather than blindly following it as a societal norm. As the teachers asked him to re-examine Brutus’s character in the play Julius Caesar, he got a sense that there is no one right or one wrong in the world. He understood the value of subjectivity and cherished the individuality it brought with it. 

Going from such an enriching environment to an engineering college which heavily relied on rote learning was a huge shocker for Sridharan. At college, neither was anybody willing to stop, think and understand the principles nor did the teachers wish to make them understand it. Plus the 75% mandatory attendance only adds to the pressure of fitting into the mould as students get less time to explore their interests and abilities. The constant assignments and exams with mediocre teaching that one was bound to attend set one up on a sure path of failure. The herd mentality which makes people follow along to crack the coveted UPSC which has a 0.2% pass percentage ensures that individuals are trapped in that conventional path of failure forever. To put a dent in the Indian education system and break this cycle of failure, Ganeshprasad Sridharan along with his partner Prakash Kothari came up with Think School.

Think School

With a motto, “To put a dent in the Indian education system by providing world-class education at a price that is less than a pair of denim jeans” Ganeshprasad Sridharan started Think School with his partner Prakash Kothari. With a rocky beginning that led to them shutting their physical classroom due to the pandemic, it was social media that not only saved but ensured that Think School thrived like never before. 

Trying to bridge these three gaps; business education, communication and fundamental principles of entrepreneurship; by providing a masterclass on each, Think School has made the internet the one-stop destination to hone your business acumen. Realising that their audience can’t afford pricey offline classes, the move to social media such as YouTube was a great decision on the founders’ part. 

Ensuring that the quality of Think School is never compromised they have a very detailed value system through which they select the core members of their team. Some of them as described by Sridharan include; the ability to critically analyse oneself, the ability to give brutal feedback, the ability to take in brutal feedback and lastly the attitude to constantly learn and improve. 

According to Ganeshprasad Sridharan, it’s not “the breadth of influence” but rather the “depth of influence” that matters more. For him, Think School’s success lies in being considered a reliable source of information not just for students in IIM and other universities and schools but even for professors and established businessmen who rely on its practical and interesting approach to enhance their abilities. 

What Makes A Great Entrepreneur?

According to Ganeshprasad Sridharan, it’s the extraordinary sharpness in finding better opportunities by doing market research, being able to read and address the gap presented by market research to understand your opportunity better, ability to execute one’s plan fast and daring to fail so that one learns the value of resilience over time, and lastly remaining relevant by evolving with technology and understanding the target audience and their needs; all of this makes the perfect recipe for a great entrepreneur. When Sridharan started his venture, many had their doubts regarding it but he trusted himself as according to him, he was following his heart as it had logic to it. Others could only project their doubts and hesitation but not provide a logic strong enough to persuade him to abandon his venture. And in today’s cut-throat world of business, this is truly a great virtue to harbour. 

The masterclass at Think School ensures that one develops this business acumen through practical assignments in which the students are given full liberty to complete them how they feel like it. Following his grandfather’s advice to; “Use language not to confuse people but to convince them”, in each video of Think School, Ganeshprasad Sridharan and Prakash Kothari are building the pillars of modern education that values and foster individuality with one video and masterclass at a time.

Lastly, Ganeshprasad Sridharan’s message to all the budding entrepreneurs is:

“Keep learning and keep reading because market research will help you find opportunities and reading will help you tap into those opportunities. Passion alone will not take you anywhere unless you have a direction. Direction will come with two things: the ability to do market research to find problems and the ability to read and learn to address those problems better.”  

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Interviews

Rakesh Tiwari: A Poet Weaving the Fabric of Life

Celebrating Rakesh Tiwari and his work which is crafting life’s symphony through poetry and breaking barriers of elitism.

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Rakesh Tiwari, Poet, Poetry, Rhyming Tiwari, Standup, Rakesh Tiwari Interview, Interview, The Talented Indian

Poetry has always been a powerful medium, capable of touching the deepest chords of our hearts. It holds the magical power to not only articulate emotions but also entertain and deeply move us. Rakesh Tiwari, a multifaceted poet, author and storyteller, embarks on a mission to unwrap the intricate tapestry of life through his captivating poetic performances. His journey began with the simple act of rhyming, but he soon recognized the profound potential of his craft to create impactful poetry that could be performed and shared with the world.

His poetry mirrors life’s diverse and intricate flavours, each composition offering a distinct essence that resonates with a spectrum of audiences. 

One of his well-known works is “Veg Biriyani” which playfully delves into the bond between vegetarians and beloved biriyani. His words advocate celebrating India’s diverse traditions, cultures and tastes while emphasizing the importance of respecting each other’s choices to foster unity.

Another well-known one is “Zindagi” which gives us a humorous take on the modern-day obsession with brands, exposure, internet culture, and social media. Tiwari highlights the superficiality of the current generation’s pursuits, where every moment is curated for online display, adorned with hashtags, and evaluated by the number of likes and comments.

Rakesh Twiari draws inspiration from a variety of sources, but it was the qawwali shows that his mother lovingly watched that plated the seeds of rhythm in him. His poetic journey began with exploring rhymes, which eventually became an artistry of words and emotions. It was the passing of his father that prompted him to pen down his first mature poem “ Mann Ka Mail”, a change from the usual love poems he penned in college.

Some of his more melancholic poetry is “Bachpan”, which serves as a heartfelt tribute to the innocence and carefreeness of childhood. Tiwari remembers his school days, scolding from his parents, and pure friendships that defined this phase of life.

“Amma Ki Atachi” tenderly reflects the emotional farewell to a mother. He pays homage to the cherished memories and ordinary things that held immense sentimental value. Tiwari’s poetry flows naturally from the depths of his feelings, being a potent medium for self-expression.

Rakesh Tiwari aspires to be a poet of the people, aiming to break down the barriers of elitism within the realm of art. His poetry has been a source of solace and companionship to many, with people expressing their gratitude for the solace and support they have found through his poetry. He encourages young artists to not shy away from the monotony that often accompanies life’s journey. Emphasizing the importance of perseverance and faith.

Though he has dedicated 11 years of his life working in a call centre, Rakesh’s unwavering belief was that his poetry would eventually pave the way for the realization of his dream-a life as a freelancer. His journey radiates the enduring power of faith and the unwavering pursuit of one’s passion. In the darkest tunnels of life, the light of hope always shines through, and Rakesh Tiwari’s story stands as a testament to this profound truth.

Credits: YouTube (Shemaroo Comedywalas)
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Keerthika Govindhasamy: A Love for The Past in The Present

Hustling through life while keeping her love for history alive, recently we got the opportunity to have a chat with Keerthika Govindhasamy.

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Keerthika Govindhasamy, Keerthi History, Influencer

It is hard enough to make it out on the internet while coming from a privileged background. Just imagine how much harder it would be for someone coming from a not-so-privileged background. In the 5G era of ever-changing content, to be at the top of your game especially when you’re content deals with history is supremely hard. Yet there are a few historians and lovers of history who have made it pretty big on the internet for their credible content informing audiences worldwide about the side of history that’s not much talked about. Among them, one such well-known Indian history influencer on YouTube and Instagram is Keerthika Govindhasamy, popularly known as Keerthi History or keerthihistory. I recently had the opportunity to get to know her better and I am sure by the end of this interaction you’ll be as inspired as I was.

Keerthika Govindhasamy: Early Life & Upbringing

Coming from a humble background, in rural Tamil Nadu, life wasn’t always easy for Keerthika Govindhasamy. Although she is a well-known Indian history YouTuber and influencer on Instagram, it may come as a surprise that she wasn’t always the most studious student in her class. According to her, she may not be very studious but she was still the topper of her class. The reason behind this could be because her learning method was very different and more permanent than the traditional popular learning method adopted by many Indian students which is rote learning. 

Rather than memorizing anything and everything presented in front of her, she prefers to understand the basic concept first as it helps her retain the new information for a longer time. Apart from this, she also prefers learning by remembering a text as a story and it was this learning method and love for stories that made her develop a strong affinity towards history. 

Being raised in a conservative family like hers, she was denied many freedoms that the male members of her family enjoyed, such as pursuing a higher education degree like post-graduation. But unlike the rest of her family, her parents were a little more progressive and allowed her to go to college for her undergraduate degree. Yet life wasn’t always simple for Keerthika Govindhasamy as her parents wanted her to do a medical degree so that she could have an easy life over one in archaeology. 

At that time in her local region, a lot of misconceptions prevailed around archaeology as a subject such as it is related to sex education. Plus the added fact that not many colleges offered it as a subject in Tamil Nadu also played a role in Keerthika Govindhasamy’s family strongly opposing it. But her love for the subject made her pursue a degree in history as it was as close to archaeology as she could get.   

Keerthika Govindhasamy: The Influencer

Starting her journey on social media was not something that Keerthika Govindhasamy had initially planned. But after trying out many different career options and trying to see what fits right, somehow social media just clicked with her. She always had a knack for social media and mixed with her interest in history everything just fell in place. And as luck would have it when she started her journey on social media many people were showing interest in Indian history. But at the same time, many false information was also being spread. To ensure that other people also start appreciating her love for the subject more with accurate data, she started her YouTube channel Keerthi History her Instagram page keerthihistory and other social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Success didn’t come easy to her but when it did it came in tenfolds. After 7-8 months of consistent posting, one of her videos got viral and soon enough all of her videos started getting a lot of views. And overnight she gained thousands of followers. But regardless of how much success came her way she never let it get to her head as she is a strict believer in staying humble (and I can certainly vouch for it based on our interaction).

Naming Abhi and Niyu and Ranveer Allahbadia (BeerBiceps) as her inspiration she went on to explain how they reignited her spark for her first love, i.e., history. She adds that it was a particular podcast that Ranveer Allahbadia hosted with historian Anica Mann as his guest that truly charmed and motivated her. 

As someone with as huge a following as hers, it’s only a matter of time before the dark side of the internet makes an appearance, i.e., hate and negative criticism. Govindhasamy shared how many of these haters have categorised her as a BJP supporter as she spreads knowledge on Indian history and part of it deals with Hinduism. When in reality all she wishes to do with creating her videos is to preserve a part of our culture. Her way to deal with all of them is to: Ignore and keep strutting forward.

A Message to Young Dreamers

As she tries to make her parents proud and provide for them by hustling every day, she imparts a small piece of advice for all the young dreamers out there; according to her, it’s going to be hard and not at all easy at the start, especially if you don’t come from a privileged background. You have got to work hard in the initial stages at the very least. Once you’ve built your brand you can hire more people and can take a small break. Do whatever you feel is right but be consistent and keep working hard and you will get there.

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Dance

Kathak Musings With The 75-year-old Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji

Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji, the senior most disciple of Pandit Natraj Gopi Krishna Ji, shares his journey with the classical dance of Kathak.

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Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji, Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar, Kathak Legend, Dance, Living Legend

The classical dance form of Kathak is an ancient art form, dating back to the 4th century BC. It reclines on the timelessness of its poise, gratuity to storytelling, discipline and the marvel of music. If Indian culture and its heritage resembles a complex and intricate tapestry, perhaps Kathak, in it, is the dominant streak of the scarlet thread which runs around with its blooming aura – that is how significant Kathak has been, both to the people and the country’s civilisation. Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar ji, the 75-year-old Kathak dancer and teacher, has given 60 years of his life to Kathak. In an exclusive interview with Dr. Ketkar Ji, we sat and listened to his musings on this immersive art form, which has extended itself potentially from its ancient origin to the dynamic contemporary period. 

The Guru-Shishya Parampara: The Beginnings of Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji

Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji, born in the year 1948, shared how at the age of fifteen, he stood mesmerised at Pandit Gopi Krishna Maharaj Ji’s Kathak performance at Bedekar Mahavidyalaya. The performance so profusely moved him that he couldn’t help but fall for it. This was the very beginning of Kathak in his life, which would be accompanied by various other art forms of music and dance in his later years. Pandit Natraj Gopi Krishna Ji is a renowned Kathak Dancer. He has choreographed several dances for the Hindi cinemas and performed not just in India but across the world. Dr. Ketkar ji is currently one of his senior most ganda bandhit disciple. As his first and only inspiration, Gopi Krishna’s rangmanch (stage) ignited an eternal spark within him, making him firm in his decision of wanting to learn and perform in the same way as him.

As a teenage boy, he took the first step towards Kathak through the dance teacher at his school. He suggested that he perform a traditional Kathak set on the stage to gauge his potential to embrace the dance and inspire the audience. Performing a Saraswati Vandana, Ketkar ji shared that on the stage, he tried to perform the same way he remembered from Gopi Krishna Ji’s performance. The dance came naturally to Ketkar ji, and the audience echoed loud applauses at his performance. 

After his first stage performance, he sought Pandit Gopi Krishna Maharaj Ji to request him to be his teacher. He visited his house, whereupon, later, he also got introduced to several other gurus, excelling in other art forms. Dr. Rajkumar Ji had the opportunity to meet Pandit Lachhu Maharaj Ji, Kathak dancer of the Lucknow Gharana, who offered him to learn thumri. He mentions how in earlier times, one had to go to different gurus to learn different art forms, unlike today, when usually a single guru is adept in multiple art forms. A few years later, on the advice of his friend, Ketkar ji trained under Pandit Mohanrao Kallianpurkar Ji of the Jaipur Gharana, who was a teacher at National Centre for performing Arts. This way, he was lucky enough to learn from three gurus, excelling in all the three gharanas of Kathak. The conversation with Dr. Ketkar Ji becomes all the more significant since he narrates from a time period from which not many artists live amongst us today. 

Amidst the conversations around his several Gurus, he emphasises on the Guru-Shishya Parampara, a bond, and a relationship thus built which is based on devotion, enlightenment, discipline and respect. The knowledge and skill imparted by the gurus is indispensable and it is of core value. One of the core essence of Guru-Shishya Parampara is Ganda Bandhan.

The extreme left first lady is his Matoshree (mother) Indira Bai Ketkar Ji. She was his support system and someone who always believed in his dreams and this art form.

The Three Gharanas of Kathak: Inspirations and Aspirations 

Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar ji, at the very beginning of the conversation, mentions the ancient divination of classical dances. Derived from the four vedas: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda, classical dances like the Kathak are the oldest forms of art in India. Its elements of rasa (emotions), Laya (rhythm), Abhinaya (acting), and body movements have been carefully detailed in the Natyashastra, which again establishes the divinity of classical dances, and how it’s founded on traditional ancient scriptures which have been followed for generations.

While talking about his inspiration, Ketkar ji dwelled on the learnings from Gopi Krishna Maharaj. Natraj Gopi Krishna Ji was an exponent of the Benares Gharana. Under his tutelage, Dr. Rajkumar ji learnt the Benares Gharana style of Kathak, along with collecting stories and histories of the dance form. Forwarding the history, Ketkar ji addressed the challenges and changes that Kathak faced since the many ages.

Lucknow, as we might not know, was previously known as Lakshmanpur or Lakhanpur, where Kathak was commonly called “Lakshmanpur ka Nritya.” Originally, Kathak, in Lakshmanpur, had its roots in the temples of northern India, therefore, being predominantly a devotional dance form. With the arrival of the Mughals, Kathak was transformed into a dance for entertainment, incorporating elements of the Persian and Islamic cultures like ghazals. The Mandir Parampara was replaced. Daasis/Courtesans performed Thumri and not the shastriya nritya.

There was also a shift from Kathak being now performed as a group dance rather than solo. Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji especially emphasises on this intervention in Kathak. He says that one doesn’t simply have to learn the dance steps. The learning and understanding of the different granthas of the Natyashastra is equally essential. This means that other elements like music, the rhythmic vocals, the tabla, along with the presentation, the clothing, are equally important. 

On left is Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji and on the right is Natraj Gopi Krishna Maharaj Ji

So when discussing the Mughal interventions in Kathak, the topic of the western influence on Kathak emerged. With social media and the internet, different cultures have become more visible than before. The fusion and influence of different dances is bound to collaborate and collide with each other. Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar ji’s thoughts on this were simple and direct. He acknowledges that new technology like projectors, smoke machines, lights and sounds, etc. are big innovations and contributions of the west in enhancing the dance production. He also takes his time to appreciate Madame Menaka’s contribution in promoting the Indian classical dance across Europe in the 1930s. Menaka’s troupe performed some 175 shows, which placed India’s cultural heritage in the centre.

However, we should not bear the influences of Western dance on the Indian classical dances. As mentioned before, the parampara, the traditions of the classical dances, distinguish them as pristine, graceful, and authentic. Western influence on Kathak will reduce the dance form to mere entertainment. He mentions how there is a stark difference between the outfits of Western and Indian dances, and while we might not think it crucial, the attire and the get up are integral to the dance performance. Unlike western dances, classical dances are a holistic production, in which music, instruments like the tabla and the pakhawaj, all are tied together in one, and can’t function with the absence of the other. 

Learning all the three styles of Kathak, Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar ji says that what pushes his enthusiasm for the dance form is the desire to incorporate new elements without tampering the traditional quintessential of the dance form. Some of these ‘new’ performances have been when he performed a ballet in Marathi of the play, Dushyant Shakuntalam, in which he danced in the role of Dushyant. Other performances have been the ‘Asht Nayika’ directed by Lachhu Maharaj Ji, or ‘Radhe Piya Pyaari’ in which Ketkar ji played Krishna alongside Guru Padma didi Sharma, who played Radha.

Guru Sant. Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji with his Senior Disciple Mrs. Vaidehi Soman

Present and the Past: Bringing Kathak To The Audience

Over the years, Ketkar ji learned other dance forms as well. Every year, especially on the occasion of 15th August, he teaches and choreographs many dance performances. A lot of these are folk dances and Bollywood dance styles. However, in these choreographies, Ketkar ji incorporates Kathak. The devotional dance performances, like Shiva Vandana or Saraswati Vandana are then brought to the forefront. With such creative inputs and diversity of dance forms introduced on stages, he of course, received humble and positive appraisals from the audience and event holders alike, which motivates him to continue this feat. This way he combines the ancient and the contemporary, and keeps the classics alive. 

Earlier the major focus was mainly on the practical part of dance and he faced many difficulties to learn theories while pursuing his graduation from Akhila Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal. Which is when he was introduced by a friend to Dr Shweni Pandya Ji and Pt. Tirathram Azad Ji who helped him to excel in his theoretical knowledge in Kathak. Further, to spread awareness of theoretical knowledge of Kathak he promoted books written by many known dance gurus to his disciples. Through this he was able to share his voice on Kathak dance – as it is not just practical art form but also entails equal weightage on Shastra Paksha i.e theory.

Dr. Rajkumar Ketkar Ji’s Message to the Aspiring Artists

Dr. Rajkumar Ji recalls how in his childhood he always had a penchant for dance. This might have also come from his mother, who used to occasionally sing. His friends and relatives used to mock him for wanting to learn dance. This mockery, of course, suggested that ‘dance’ wasn’t necessarily seen as a worthy profession and its inherent art wasn’t appreciated for. However, years later, the same friends stood astounded in front of him, deeply awed at his stature now. With a doctorate in Kathak from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, his known ones could only bow down at the level of the ‘Shastra Paksh’ he has since learnt and adopted. 

Dr. Ketkar ji himself wasn’t necessarily shown support for pursuing dance and so he understands how difficult it is to survive in a society that would force you to pick practical career paths than the unconventional ones. When asked what would be some tips of advice he’d like to give to the aspiring artists, he first mentioned that one’s approach towards one’s art should be honest. One must understand ‘art’ in its true form. For him, Kathak hasn’t been merely about entertainment. The history and calling of Kathak testifies it to be greater than just a show-and-perform. He specifically asks the aspiring classical dancers to engage in ‘upaasna.’ Understand the art, and art will understand you.

Secondly, if you truly want to pursue your art, then there’s no second option. He believes that if you display passion and honesty for your art form, then you will definitely convince your parents for their support. Lastly, he also appeals to the younger generation to take up the classical arts of India, to study the shastras, the Sanskrit language, and keep the traditional art forms alive.

Credits: YouTube (Nutan Rathore)
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