February 17, 2020
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Sitara Devi

The Kathak diva on her refusal to accept the Padma Bhushan

Sitara Devi
Sitara Devi
Why did you call it an insult?
Why has the government given me only the Padma Bhushan and others the Padma Vibhushan? I deserve nothing less than the Bharat Ratna.

Who do you think don't deserve the award?
I don't want to get into that. But they shouldn't keep me at par with Zakir Hussain. He is talented, but a child compared to me.

Will you accept the Bharat Ratna now, if given?
I don't care. They don't know how to respect talent. They can give it to George Bush. After all, they are trying to get close to the US.

Has the Centre contacted you?
No, they haven't. But artistes from all over the country have called to say that I did the right thing.

How important are awards?
I give more importance to the support I get from the public. And my greatest award was when Rabindranath Tagore called me the Nritya Samragini (Queen of Dance).

Do you think you've succeeded in lifting kathak from the "dance of the kothas"?
Yes. See how many people from good families now learn kathak.

You hate Hindi film dance.
You call that dance? It's like they are doing PT.

Are you a purist?
I am open to all influences. Most dances have some common basics.

Even modern dances?
No dance is bad. It depends on how it is presented. I even like Breakdance.

Are you still giving performances?
I took a break for a while after I had a heart surgery. The doctor has told me to take it easy. But I am planning a performance at the Nehru Centre and I am looking forward to it.

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