Thirty-two artistes under the age of 35 from all over the country in various categories of performing arts were today presented with the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for 2011 by Sangeet Natak Akademi.

The awards were presented by chairperson of the Academy Leela Samson at a function in New Delhi, which also marked beginning of a week-long festival of music, dance and theatre by the award-winning artistes.

“This is a day to register in your minds that the country recognises you as young artists of great merit. Also, this award comes with great responsibility,” Ms. Leela Samson said.

Sangeet Natak Akademi, the national academy for music, dance and drama had instituted the awards in 2006 in memory of shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan who died in August that year.

Ms. Leela Samson, herself a noted Bharatnatyam dancer, said the country had “produced a long and illustrious line of very great artists like Yamini Krishnamurthy” who she and others looked up to inspiration “to show the light at the end of a very dark tunnel”.

“We live in very skewed times when the commerce of things has overtaken us. As artists, it is important that aesthetics and sensibilities of our times must reflect in our expressions,” said Ms. Leela Samson.

She pointed out that the 32 artists were selected by their engagement with the traditions of the art forms that they represented.

“As India’s apex cultural body, we are conscious of the complexities of nurturing those traditions and the very thin line between what tradition stands for and the compulsions of the commerce which lies almost at its heart and centre,” she said.

Wishing the awardees an exciting and wonderful career she exhorted them to fulfil a responsibility to “inculcate a love and respect for the arts into the next generation, the children.”

“With the respect, it is also important for them to learn that this respect costs something” she said.

The Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar award carries prize money of Rs 25,000.

Eight musicians were awarded in the field of music are Jayateerth Mevundi for Hindustani Vocal, Satyajit S Talwalkar for Hindustani Instrumental (Tabla), Srinibas Satapathy Hindustani Instrumental (Flute), Rahul Sharma, Hindustani Instrumental (Santoor), Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Vocal, Manda Anantha Krishna, Carnatic Instrumental(Flute), Punya Srinivas, Carnatic Instrumental(Veena), H N Bhaskar Carnatic Instrumental (Violin).

The dancers awarded are Meenakshi Srinivasan (Bharatnatyam), Namrata Pamnani (Kathak), Renjini K P (Kathakali) Gurumayum Chandan Devi (Manipuri), Kuravi Venkata Subrahmanya Prasad (Kuchipudi), Sonali Mohapatra (Odissi) and Sudha Raghuraman Music for Dance.

In the field of theatre, the awardees were Ramji Bali and S Murugaboopathy for Playwriting, Pravin Kumar, Rashi Bunny, Shankar Venkateswaran and Pabitra Rabha for Direction, Rayanti Rabha for Acting and Gautam Haldar for Allied Theatre Arts.

In the category for Traditional, Folk, Tribal, Dance, Music, Theatre and Puppetry, the awardees were Pathan Parvez Ahmedali Khan, Folk Dance (Gujarat), Mahadev Das Baul, Folk Song (West Bengal), Mickma Tshering Lepcha, Lepcha Music (Sikkim) Geetanjali Sharma, Brij Folk Dance (Uttar Pradesh) Krishna Pandurang Musale, Folk Music (Maharashtra), Padi Parambil Rajeev Kutiyattam Vidya Kolyur, Yakshagana (Karnataka), Budhram Sori, Folk and Tribal Dance (Chhattisgarh).

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