Search engine giant Google paid tribute to the Khatak queen Sitara Devi on her 97th birth anniversary with a doodle. Google is known for coming up with such fascinating illustrations to honour significant people and historic events. Sitara Devi who was a legendary Kathak dancer, is hailed as the ‘Empress of dance’. She had taken her last breath on November 25, 2014, at the age of 94 in Mumbai’s Jaslok hospital after a prolonged illness. Devi was one of the pioneers who brought the classical Indian dance into the context of Bollywood. According to reports, Sitara Devi had played a pivotal role in bringing Kathak dance genre to Bollywood.
Here are some amazing facts about Sitara devi.
- She was a very good dancer and started performing at a young age, Sitara Devi started giving solo performances at the age of 10. Her parents almost got her married at the age of 8, but she resisted, saying that she wanted to study.
- Sitara Devi’s father, Sukhadev Maharaj, was a scholar of Sanskrit. He earned his livelihood by teaching and performing Kathak in different parts of India. Her mother was Matsya Kumari, who held a relationship with the royal family of Nepal. The family shifted to Bombay when she was 11, and Sitara Devi’s dance career took off from there.
- Rabindranath Tagore mentored Sitara Devi. He was so impressed with her performances that at one of her shows, he offered her a shawl and a citation for Rs 50. Devi, who was then 16 years old, refused and asked instead for his blessings. He described her as Nitya Samragini.
- She had first married K Asif, the director of popular Bollywood movie Mughal-e-Azam and later Pratap Barot. The Kathak queen was honoured with a number of awards including India Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 for her contribution to the classical dance genre for six decades.
- Her performances on and off the silver screen revived popular interest in the classical dance of Kathak. Showcases at international venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, London and Carnegie Hall, New York brought the dance form a global audience,” Google said in a statement.
- Sitara Devi was also a teacher and some of her famous students include Madhubala, Rekha, Mala Sinha, and Kajol. She also wanted to set up a Kathak dance academy in Mumbai but was not granted land by the government.