My Guru – Pt. Durgalal ji

Trained by some of the great masters in the three aspects of Kathak – Gaayan, Vaadan and Nartan – Pt. Durgalalji was a complete dancer… An artiste of unusual merit and rare qualities.

Born on 1948 in Mahendragarh, Rajasthan, his initiation into the world of art was through Hindustani Classical Music, which he learned from his father Pt. Omkar Lalji. He later received the training of Pakhawaj from Pt. Purushottam of Nathdwara, and acquired proficiency in playing the Pakhawaj as well as the Tabla.

In the beginning, Durgalalji started learning Kathak from his own brother. Later both brothers secured a scholarship to study Kathak at Bharatiya Kala Kendra from Pt. Sunder Prasadji. Both the brothers stayed in a tiny place where they could barely stand properly. But that did not deter Pt. Durgalalji from practicing for hours and hours. As he once said, ” I would not be where I am without my brother who pushed me to work hard and taught me to live a disciplined life."


Devilalji took great pleasure and pride in Durgalalji´s progress and achievements. In his early twenties, Durgalalji´s succeeded in becoming a famous dancer and then started performing in all the great Sammelans in India as well as abroad. Both the brothers used to perform together. Their performances used to bring the house down with thundering applause.

The aesthetics of the physical and artistic dimensions of Durgalalji was matched by the man´s unblemished character. On this moon there was no shadow. Stardom may have opened for him a whole new world of ostentation, but Pt. Durgalalji´s simplicity remained untouched. He was a great guru, a disciplinarian and a hard worker. He used to infuse such a lot of confidence in his students that nothing seemed impossible. Durgalalji´s constant advise to his disciples was "Don´t become parrots. Feel the movement, make it your own and do it, so that the dance is your statement and not an imitation of your Guru."

He was a recipient of honour from various public and private bodies, both at home as well as abroad. At age of 36 in 1984, he received the highest honour in the field of performing Arts –"The Sangeet Natak Akademi Award".

Basant Panchami of 1990 has been engraved on the minds of the art world, for it was on that fateful day that Pt. Durgalalji, at the peak of his career at the age of forty-two, succumbed to a massive cardiac arrest. It occurred shortly after a marathon performance in Lucknow for the UP Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Kathak Mahotsav. The Jaipur Gharana of Kathak was deprived of its beacon light.

Samved is very thankful to Bhavan´s Cultural Centre Andheri for having joined hands with us and collaborated on this meaningful venture of paying a humble tribute to the unparalleled master of creativity.