Sunday, March 26, 2023

Jamshedpur remembers choreographer and former Loyola student Astad Deboo


Jamshedpur, Dec 10: Famous choreographer Padma Shri Astad Deboo died on Thursday at Mumbai. As the news reached the city, rich tributes started pouring in. The former student of Loyola School, Jamshedpur Deboo was the recipient of several prestigious awards including Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995) and the Padma Shri (2007). He studied in the steel city, and was the most famous Kathak and Kathakali dancer and a pioneer of modern dance in Jamshedpur.

A senior functionary of Loyola Alumni Association and popular social worker Ronald D’Costa said Deboo left the world in the early hours of December 10, at his home in Mumbai, after a brief illness.

“He was a student of Loyola School and and was closely associated with the steel city. He left behind a formidable legacy of unforgettable performances,” he said in a chocked voice, understandably so because Ronald and Astad were close friends.

Born on July 13, 1947 in Navsari town of Gujarat, the dancer, who learnt Kathak from Guru Prahlad Das since a young age, and later Kathakali from Guru EK Pannicker, was described for his style of dance as “contemporary in vocabulary and traditional in restraint”.

Recollecting his association with Deboo, Ronald D’Costa, a former student of Loyola School, said that Astad chose a lonely road to stardom. “My 10 years (1954 to ’64) with him at Loyola indicated that even in your teens you can choose a path less travelled. He never failed to attribute his career choice to his Principal, the late Fr. George Hess SJ who wholeheartedly supported him in his early Kathak dance classes,” said D’Costa.

“ It’s a lonely path and he could have fallen on the wayside but his personal commitment to dance and to his natural aptitude to make friends, influence people and nurture networks helped him to constantly grow. His inimitable style contributed to creating a different amalgamation of Kathak and modern performing art,” said D’Costa.

He further said: “I remember him as a fighter for forgotten causes – children who couldn’t hear but dance wonderfully, the forgotten drummers from Manipur. He even had time for the street children of Delhi. Yet his heart never left Jamshedpur and he never refused to return for a good cause like the programme organised by the NGO ‘SEEDS’ in 2005 and, of course, the place where it all started – his much loved school – Loyola. His Legacy now is the foundation he has left behind for those who decide it is better to entertain and make people happy rather than to leave huge, inanimate monuments.


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