A tribute to the living legends of India


New Delhi : No loud pre-event performances, no unnecessary delays and winding speeches. The Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony by Legends of India, a society which works to promote Indian art and artistes, was a simple and elegant occasion amongst the who's who of the capital.

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Presented to Mrinalini Sarabhai, celebrated dancer and choreographer for her immense contribution in the field of bharatnatyam and sarod maestro Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta, for keeping the lifeline of the Indian instrumental music alive, the event was a tribute to these great artistes who are legends by themselves.

Dressed in a beige and pink sari and wearing a big bindi, 'Amma', as Sarabhai is lovingly referred as, was sentimental while receiving the award Thursday evening but nevertheless made the audience laugh with her witty remarks.

"Thank god they called me a living legend. I was beginning to think that I have become a statue in the minds of people!" she said amid laughter and applause. "I always knew that I was meant to be dancer although no one in my family had ever taken into any of the art forms. Today I am proud to say that even my daughter and grandson are into dancing. And it's all because of the support that you have given me over the years," she added.

Other than paying a tribute to their contribution, the event was also a reminder of the adage that when one is determined anything is possible. Both the artistes come from non-artistic backgrounds, with no dynasty to push them forth and have fought their 'musical 'way through to where they are today.

"I am trained to be a mechanical engineer but look where my passion has got me today. It's unbelievable," said a somber Das Gupta.

Congratulating the artistes and giving away the awards, Somnath Chatterjee, speaker of the Lok Sabha, said that it is indeed a matter of pride that India has given birth to such great artistes.

On being given a memento by the organisers, Chatterjee quipped that he doesn't know what he did to deserve this but was happy anyway.

Established in 1998, Legends of India is a society which was conceptualized by Dipayan Mazumdar to promote Indian artistes and encourage the youth to take up Indian art.

From former attorney general Soli Sorabjee to former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh, from artist Krishen Khanna to fim director Goutam Ghose, the patrons of this society are varied and many.

The society also organizes an annual Sangeet festival, which is on from May 18 until May 20 at the Kamani Auditorium and will have maestros in different fields of music like Farida Khanum, Taufiq Qureshi, Bikram Ghosh and Atul Raninga.

"We hope that this initiative encourages more and more young people to take up Indian music, be it in any form, by seeing the examples of such great legends," said Mazumdar.