“I am still finding my feet in films,” says Shrita Baskar, a 20-year-old Kathak Dancer, who runs her own academy.
She is all of 20 and runs her own Kathak dance academy while juggling between her acting and modelling career. Shrita, a graduate in Psychology, who also has a degree in Performing Arts, started learning this art form from the age of six. “Over the years, dance became my passion. So I clung on to it and shifted to Chennai from Dubai in the process of setting up my academy,” says Baskar.
Shrita who is trained in Lucknowi Gharana and Jaipuri Gharana, (two styles of Kathak) set her base in Chennai hoping to spread this lesser known dance form in the southern cultural capital. “India is a hub for all forms of cultural activities. Be it dance, acting or theatre, I could involve myself in everything at one place.” Her academy, Taraana Academy of Kathak Dance, was started last September. Shrita converted a part of her residence and altered it to suit the needs for Kathak classes. From a humble start with just one student, Taraana has now grown to 60 students in five different batches.
“The specialty of my academy is that I do one-on-one teaching to all my students and hence do not take more than five students in a class. My class timings are very flexible as well. A majority of my students are youngsters. I have students coming in from all corners of the city and some even from nearby cities.” Shrita, 20, is one of the youngest Kathak trainers in the city. Quiz her on how it is to teach people older than her, she is quick to add that age is just a number when it comes to teaching or learning. People as old as 40-45 years also exude the same amount of enthusiasm and eagerness as a five-year-old.
Shrita, who has a flair for acting and theatre, has starred in 12 television commercials so far. She is freelance theatre artist and has acted in critically acclaimed plays like Moto Town. “I auditioned for Aadhalal Kaadhal Seiveer casually, and got the part. A lot of projects have been coming my way since that film. As clichéd as it may sound, I am choosy in saying ‘yes’ to a film or a commercial. Also, Dance being my first priority, I am taking it slow in films.”
Although she has set up her own dance academy, her learning has not stopped, says Shrita. She still participates in dance workshops conducted by Pandit Birju Maharaj along with his senior students. “Expanding my academy and getting it affiliated to a university, so that my students can get recognition for their skills, are my goals,” says Shrita.