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KATHAK EXPONENT AND ACTRESS OF SILENT FILMS
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My husband Ravi Jain ,an electrical engineer, a kathak exponent and choreographer was a student of Alaknanda Devi also having learnt from Padmashri Shambhu Maharaj of the Lucknow gharana and Chaube Maharaj of the Benaras gharana earlier. He observed Alaknanda Devi very closely as a young boy during his stay in Calcutta for twenty years. She was a regular visitor in their house as she was very close to the family and permanently stayed in Calcutta after shifting base from Bombay. Pandit Birju Maharaj , Gopi Krishna and her father Pandit Sukhdev Maharaj,  often visited Ravi Jain’s residence whenever they came for their performances to Calcutta.

Alaknanda Devi was the eldest amongst the five siblings born to Sukhdev Maharaj. All of them were proficient in singing and dancing while Chaube Maharaj was a great percussionist also.  Sukhdev maharaj himself was very proficient in music, dance and percussion and trained all his children and later on his grandson Gopi Krishna. He had great knowledge of these arts and had written a lot of literature which he used during the performances of his children and grand children. In fact he was the pioneer who brought kathak back to respectable families by introducing “kavits”(verses) on lord Krishna and Radha, Kali , hanuman, Shiva  and many more.

There was a time when Alaknanda Devi acted in silent films and had all the amenities to her credit. Later on she shifted to Calcutta and stayed there till the rest of her life. Amongst the many interesting incidents about her was her desire to take unemployed musicians for her programmes, because she could sing and dance and had full control of everything. She was always content after the show that she could help her fellow artists. An unassuming artist Alaknanda Devi could be seen travelling in “halla gadi”, buses or trams to various places in the City.

From the very beginning Alaknanda Devi knew the pulse of the public. Besides the repertoire of kathak she danced on items like ‘dadra’,’bhajans’,’hori’,and many other compositions. ‘Kanhaiyya ji kaisa jadoo daara”her favourite dadra was presented by her in a kala kunj programme in 1982. Even with fading health and stamina due to high BP, this 82 year old stole everybody’s hearts. Starting with ‘thaat”and “ladi” she went on to her favourite “dadra”. She did prove that she was indeed 16 years old and not 80+ when someone commented that she could put many youngsters to shame. Accompanied by Ved Sethi on vocal and harmonium and Shamim Ahmad on tabla, this programme is still fresh in the minds of those who were present that day.


Again, this recording of Alaknanda Devi at the age of 82 is only with kala kunj. Ravi Jain a silent worker, a connoisseur of art and the first secretary of Kala Kunj added another feather to his cap.



Written by Kathak Exponent Nalini Malhotra Jain


Created Date:  3/20/2021 3:28:00 PM
Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj 3 Chief Guest Justice Madan B. Lokur, Dr.Ashok Chakradhar,  Ranjana Subberwal Guru Nalini Malhotra Jain with Dr.Ashok Chakradhar Renowned astrologer Pt. Ajai bhambi, as chief guest Ustad Rehmat Khan Langa, renowned Rajasthani Folk  singer Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj Kalakunj