Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Dance History Column - Tara Chaudhri - Pavlova of the Punjab! - Ashish Mohan Khokar

That Tara Chaudhri, popularly dubbed the Pavlova of the Punjab, died on Sept 22, 2013, unsung in India, is not surprising. No obit, no news, no mention. So it is left to me, yours truly, to reconstruct her life and times. I’m additionally in a very privileged position because our families also knew each other personally. A direct source of that period is my mother, Bharatanatyam guru M.K. Saroja, who knew Tara personally, stayed with her in Lahore in undivided India and had common links due to Guru Muthukumaran Pillai, whom Ram took to Lahore to teach Bharatanatyam. Many moons later, Tara came home to us in Delhi in mid 70s when Ram was visiting us and even having left active dance for years, she looked like a royal star. Once a dancer, always a dancer.  

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  1. Thank you Ashish for writing such a nice tribute to the late Tara Chaudhri with personal family anecdotes. Readers may be interested to know that there are videos online of Tara dancing in the 1940s and 1950s: in the film Vedhala Ulagam and Russian footage at the online digital Net-Film archive. I posted about these videos are other information/pictures about Tara here and here, for those interested.

    Also, I wonder if the Punjab Gharana of Kathak is the same as the Janakiprasad/Benaras Gharana, of which Sunil Kothari noted in his book on Kathak that Tara studied under through Ashiq Hussain Khan (who was also apparently a famous film star in his day!). Sunayana Hazarilal seems to be one of the main remaining exponents of that Gharana today.

    May Tara rest in peace. Regards, ~Minai (aka Kasuvandi, etc.!)

  2. Your writings are treasure ! Thank you.