S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Damayanti Joshi

5.12.1932 - 19.9.2004
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Born in Mumbai on December 5, to Vatsala Joshi, Damayanti was "adopted" by the wellknown scientist of the times, Col. Sahib Singh Sokhey and his famous dancer-wife Madame Menaka as their own. Menaka had lost her daughter earlier and thus took to Daman as her own. A rather weak child physically, Daman got attracted to the sounds of ghungroos emanating from Madame Menaka's classroom where Pandit Sitaram Prasad of the Lucknow gharana taught. He was a direct disciple of Bindadin and taught many girls in the neighbourhood. Kathak then was very popular in Bombay.

A re you her son?" asks her maid when I announce my presence in Mumbai, December 2002. "Yes, sort of," I quip and this thought is true because Damayanti Joshi was the first person who saw me when I was born in Maharani Shantadevi Hospital in Baroda, on a rare day like the 29th of February. Damayanti called on my mother M.K. Saroja and saw me as an hour old! and blessed me before even my father, the venerable Mohan Khokar, took time off from his university classes in the evening, to come to see his third-born son. Thus, I have always held Damayanti to be a motherfigure, in addition to being a great Kathak exponent. I was in Mumbai documenting veteran guru-s on a Ford Foundation pilot project and chanced to land at Damayanti (Daman's) home on 5thDecember, a special date because it was her 80th birthday too! Like all great dancers, she claimed it was her 60th birthday but what's a few decades between friends? That digital recording perhaps remains the last-ever footage of this dance great. 

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