Rajasthan, as we all know, is a state of rich cultural heritage. We often talk about the grandeur of its forts and palaces and the vibrancy of its folk music and dance, but there is one thing we miss at times and it’s the classical dance form Kathak, which has strong roots in Jaipur.
Kathak, as we know, is one of the most popular classical dance forms of India. This dance form originated in North India and is said to have derived its name from Sanskrit word ‘Katha’ which means a story. Kathak is an art of storytelling imbibed into dance moves and expressions.
Kathak, the classical dance form which was patronized by art rulers of ancient and medieval India. While in ancient times the dance was considered strictly a mythological lore depicting the love of Lord Krishna and Radha, over the years this dance form adopted contemporary themes.
When we talk about classical music it is evident to talk about ‘Gharanas’ where these art forms flourished. Kathak has three major Gharanas or Schools of Art; Jaipur, Lucknow, and Banaras. Under these gharanas, the classical dance prospered and went down from one generation to other through the Guru- Shishya parampara.
Of all the major Gharanas of Kathak, Jaipur finds a special mention and is distinctive in its own way. Jaipur Gharana is said to have retained the traditional glory of Kathak. Jaipur Gharana is particularly known for its rapid powerful footwork, the dynamic body moves, multiple spins and subtle facial expressions i.e. ‘abhinay’.
Jaipur Gharana traces its origin to Bhanuji who was well-known for his rendition of the Shiva Tandava. While his son Kanuji was influenced by the Bhakti Movement. Kanuji’s grandsons Hari Prasad and Hunuman Prasad worked diligently to take the dance form to newer heights.
It is important to note that these classical art forms pass from Guru to Sishya in linear nature hence withholds the distinctive characteristics of their Gharanas. Thus making each gharanas differ from the other in some or the other way.
The Jaipur Gharana developed in the courts of the Kachchwaha Kings of Jaipur in Rajasthan. The mythological lore was depicted through Kathak thus entertaining the admirers of the art. The Jaipur Gharana of Kathak has kept the dance form alive by keeping at par with expectations of the dance lovers.
What makes Jaipur Gharana different from Lucknow Gharana of Kathak is that while Jaipur Gharana emphasized on footwork and body moves the Lucknow Gharana is more about abhinay. The abhinay in Jaipur Gharana is said to be subtle while Kathak in Lucknow Gharana is all about expression in acting and innovations in abhinay.
In the modern era, Jaipur Gharana has continued their emphasis on dance and footwork with Jai Lal, Janki Prasad, Kundan Lal, Mohan Lal and Nawal Kishore thus passing on the glorious tradition to the next generations!