For dancer Uma Sharma, LSR became a platform to pursue her passion
Lady Shri Ram (LSR) has long been the bastion of women’s higher education in India. Ever since its commencement, it’s been an alma mater to a number of successful women who have made their mark in a variety of fields. Perhaps, the best known students however were the ones who studied at the college right during the years of its inception, who made what LSR is today. One of these stellar alumni is Kathak dancer Uma Sharma. Passed out of the college in 1964, her memory is full of vivid recollections of her time spent there. Uma started dancing as a prodigy, who was much appreciated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The college gave her the platform to further her passion for dancing, as well as become actively involved in other cultural activities. “I loved organising dance competitions and cultural shows in and around the Delhi University colleges. My friends, after seeing my interest in bringing cultural activity to students, suggested that I stand as a candidate for the post of the President of the Dance and Music Society. After winning the election, I began organising a lot of events and not just performing in them,” she gleefully remembers.
She confesses to never being a stellar student, but also never failing or scoring below average. This was entirely due to her parents’ insistence, “When I enrolled in the B.A. Pass course at LSR, the one thing my parents made me promise was that I will not let my marks suffer.” Not only did she manage a fine balance between work and play, but also became a favourite of the teachers. She recalls how she was a loved student, so much so that her teachers had to feign being angry at her when she was caught in the middle of a mischief. She explains this further, “I was a very naughty student, not in a terrible manner, but in an innocent way. I was one of the biggest fans of Dilip Kumar, so five of my friends and I went to watch Madhumati some eight times. We would naturally bunk and go, and the teachers were well aware of it. I was scolded, but only because I had to be. They forced themselves to scold me because I had blatantly broken a rule.”
It was this love and affection, which ultimately encouraged her to pursue dance without feeling like she was sacrificing much of her student life and schedule. The acclaimed artiste brought laurels to the college at any and every event she participated in and represented. “There was an extra-curricular excursion to Srinagar. It was something that was primarily for the students of Economic Hons., and other disciplines weren’t entertained. But even then, I was asked by my professor Shashi Gupta to be a part of the team. I was quite adventurous at that point in time, like most kids my age, and I sat on a horse which began running fast suddenly. I was scared and I began crying. With us students, there was Professor Khusro, an eminent economist and from thereon at every bonfire throughout the trip he would narrate the incident and it became a big joke.”
Remembering some more fond memories of her time at LSR, she relates she would call for abrupt dance practices, or be in her small little corner that she called a “Special Corner” situated in the back lawns of the college. It is this love and reverence she has for the college that still stays strong and undeniable. Now, with her dance school and residence being so close to her alma mater, she feels, “like I never even left the college.”