By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Hours after her victory, India’s Got Talent winner Kathak exponent Ragini Makkhar can’t believe she has cracked the top spot on a contest where talent from all over the country, mostly contemporary, jostled for the attention of the judges Kirron Kher, Karan Johar and Malaika Arora.
“It’s a victory not only for me and the 12 students of my dancing institute who participated in the show, but also for the classical heritage which seems to have been lost in today’s times. I am sorry to say, the current generations don’t seem to respect our cultural roots,” says Ragini who has for the last 25 years been helming her Kathak institute named Naadyog where 360 students learn Kathak dancing.
Ragini says she cannot recall a day when she was not interested in Kathak. “I was born with a passion for Kathak. I’ve been dancing from the age of two and a half. No one in my family has ever dabbled in the ‘K’ of Kathak. There is no history of dancers in my family. So I really don’t know where this obsession in me for Kathak came from. Kathak is not just my life. It’s the very reason for my existence. I won’t last a day without my dancing,” says Ragini who is a Punjabi married into a Marathi family.
She describes her struggle to excel in Kathak dancing as a painful but rewarding journey. “I’ve struggled and endured a lot. It hasn’t been easy. My dance academy Naadyog endeavours to provide a platform for talented dancers. I never had any support or facility. I had to make my way to my dreams on my own.”
Ragini says she wants to use the Rs 50 lakh prize money she has won on India’s Got Talent to build a stronger infrastructure for aspiring dancers. “In our country the classical heritage is bein sidelined. There is no culture for cultural activities any longer. Youngsters run the other way the minute the word ‘classical’ is uttered, as though it’s some kind of a disease. I want to show youngsters how much fun Kathak can be. I hope some of that fun came across on India’s Got Talent.”
The prize money would help Ragini to further her plans. “I want to use the money to help poor needy children who want to dance but cannot do so because of their economic condition. There is so much I want to do, and so little time. I am grateful and happy that India’s Got Talent has given me and my students and the Kathak dance form a renewed visibility and recognition.”
Ragini pines to bring classical dancing back to Bollywood. “Just give me an opportunity to take Kathak back into the movies. I promise you it will be a hit with the youth.”