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‘I still can’t believe it’

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO
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In focus Prshant Lahoti reacts to being awarded the French government’s second highest civilian award for art, Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres 

A space for artPrshant Lahoti, founder of Kalakriti
A space for artPrshant Lahoti, founder of Kalakriti

Six months ago, Prshant Lahoti received a letter, in French, bearing the name and symbol of the ministry of France. Puzzled, Prshant showed the letter to his friends at The French Embassy of India and learnt he’s been conferred the French government’s second highest civilian award for art — Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters).

“A letter in English soon followed. We wanted The Embassy of France in India to make the formal announcement,” says Prshant, managing trustee of Krishnakriti Foundation and owner of Kalakriti Art Gallery. The formal announcement was made on 12.12.12.

The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters is awarded to personalities in recognition of their contributions to arts, culture or literature. The news came as a surprise since the previous recipients of this award were Sivaji Ganesan, Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, M. Balamuralikrishna, Ritu Beri and Nandita Das. “I still can’t believe it; it’s overwhelming,” says Prshant.

The announcement coincides with 10 years of Kalakriti Art Gallery. Starting an art gallery was far from lucrative a decade ago, recounts Prshant.

“When we shared our idea with a few friends, they discouraged us. I was interested in art and the only way I could learn more about art was to get involved in it,” he says. Kalakriti was started in 2002.

Since then, it’s been a journey of discovery and learning for Prshant and his wife Rekha Lahoti. “There was a lot of guidance from the trustees of Krishnakriti Foundation,” says Prshant.

The gallery has hosted over 250 art exhibitions, featuring nationally-renowned artists while giving space to promising talent through Krishnakriti Foundation.

There were very few takers for art a decade ago. Prshant and his team had to rise above pre-conceived notions. “We were driven by the idea of the art we thought Hyderabad should be exposed to rather than abide by the notion of what the city wants,” says Prshant. It’s this thought that made him host art auctions too.

Krishnakriti Foundation was started in 2004 in memory of Prshant’s father Krishnachandra B. Lahoti to support education of art students through scholarships. More than 150 art students have benefited as a result. In 2007-2008, the foundation introduced a fellowship in collaboration with the French Embassy in India called the Krishnakriti – French Embassy Fellowship.

“We took care not to dilute standards. This award gives me an added sense of responsibility,” says Prshant.

Prshant is scheduled to receive the award from the French Ambassador to India, François Richier, in Hyderabad in March 2013.

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO

The previous recipients of this award

were Sivaji Ganesan, Shahrukh Khan,

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, M. Balamuralikrishna, Ritu Beri and Nandita Das.

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