edited by shikhar and shreya
There are people who spend their lives working to build someone else’s dream, earning just enough in return. And then there are people who possess a spirit that is meant to soar. Ela pant, a mother of two sons and a happily married and a successful lady belongs to this league. In a society where most careers take a break after marriage, her career took a leap, and a giant one at that. She sets the perfect example of women empowerment by being a devotional classical dance teacher who has a clear opinion about every perspective of life. We offer a peek into her life and work.
How did you get here ?
It was spontaneous. After my intermediate from Rishikesh, I graduated from MKP Dehradun in art and music. We used to perform at our college events when I found the passage of learning and practicing my skills from my guru Rani Khanum who was from Delhi. Being the disciple of Birju Maharaj for some time, I gained a decent amount of expertise in ‘kathak’ and other related dance forms. After working in the industry for a while, I got married and eventually started NIPA as a dance academy. This was possible due to the immense support and motivation that my family provided me with, at all times.
You worked in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s blockbuster film ‘Devdas’ with Bollywood stars. How was the experience?
I did not know for which film we were auditioning when we reached Mumbai with Maharaj Ji . Only after we were selected we came to know that it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film. It was a great experience working in the song “Silsila ye chahat ka”. It was a turning point in my life as a window to a whole new world opened in front of me.
Male dancers in ‘kathak’ are not very common and the existing ones are underrated. What do you think is the reason for that?
That is true. Male ‘kathak’ dancers are rare. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of interest in males in this form of dance.
What the ‘guru’ teaches, the ‘shishya’ learns without question, therefore, I believe that a male dancer should not learn ‘kathak’ from a female teacher because the dance taught by a female teacher contains more femininity than neutrality. As far as the underrated part is considered, there are many male ‘kathak’ dancers who stand apart from the monopoly that exists in this dance form.
You are a female entrepreneur as well, what is your opinion on feminism of today?
ism is the total awareness of her powers in a female. I think that the world has been presented with the theory of feminism in a wrong way. Being a woman, I understand my powers as well as my limitations and it isn’t right to suppress another part of community in order to break those limitations. Feminism is being misinterpreted these days.Most of us believe that it is suppressing men for the growth of women but that is not the case. Feminism stands for equality in the society.
Your profession for most of us is a hobby. What are your hobbies then?
I feel most comfortable when I’m dancing. I am fortunate that I could turn my hobby into my profession. As far as my hobbies are concerned, I love to cook. Sketching is something to which I was devoted to from a long time. It’s great to practise art in some way. It teaches how to create new from pre-existing products.
How has the city treated you?
We shifted to Doon seventeen years ago when this was a small town with eucalyptus trees growing on the side of the roads. The air was fresher than it is today. Being a person of the pre-capital era, I may look like I am cringing but I sincerely believe that change is the only constant. Doon has everything that one expects from a place in which they live.
About the Doon Mozaic initiative?
It’s great to see that the citizens of Doon now want to encourage the aspects of the city and the state at a global level. This initiative will make the Doon-ites proud and will help the city come out of its ‘small town’ image.