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'IGT' winner wants to bring Kathak back to Bollywood

Mumbai, March 11 (IANS) "India's Got Talent 5" winner, Kathak exponent Ragini Makkhar believes the country's classical heritage is being sidelined. She hopes to bring the dance form back to the movies and is confident it will be a hit among the youth.

"In our country, the classical heritage is being sidelined. There is no culture for cultural activities any longer. Youngsters run the other way the minute the word 'classical' is uttered as though it's some kind of a disease. I want to show youngsters how much fun Kathak can be," Makkhar said.

The dancer, along with 12 students from her Naadyog institute won the fifth season of the talent reality show Saturday.

Makkhar says she wants to use the Rs.50 lakh prize money she has won on "India's Got Talent" to build a stronger infrastructure for aspiring dancers.

"I want to use the money to help poor and needy children who want to dance but cannot do so because of their economic condition. There is so much I want to do, and so little time. I am grateful and happy that 'India's Got Talent' has given me and my students and the Kathak dance form, a renewed visibility and recognition."

She pines to bring classical dancing back to Bollywood.

"Just give me an opportunity to take Kathak back into the movies. I promise you it will be a hit with the youth," she said.

Winning a show like "India's Got Talent", where contestants from all nooks and corners of the country, jostled for attention and appreciation by judges Kirron Kher, Karan Johar and Malaika Arora Khan, is a special feeling for Makkhar.

"It's a victory not only for me and the 12 students of my dancing institute who participated in the show, but also for the classical heritage which seems to have been lost in today's times. I am sorry to say, the current generations don't seem to respect our cultural roots," said Makkhar, who has for the last 25 years been helming a Kathak institute named Naadyog where 360 students learn Kathak dancing.

She says she cannot recall a day when she was not interested in Kathak.

"I was born with a passion for Kathak. I've been dancing from the age of two. No one in my family has ever dabbled in the 'K' of Kathak. There is no history of dancers in my family. So I really don't know where this obsession in me for Kathak came from.

"Kathak is not just my life. It's the very reason for my existence. I won't last a day without my dancing," says the dancer, who is a Punjabi married into a Maharashtrian family.

She describes her struggle to excel in Kathak dancing as a painful but rewarding journey.

"I've struggled and endured a lot. It hasn't been easy. My dance academy Naadyog endeavours to provide a platform for talented dancers. I never had any support or facility. I had to make my way to my dreams on my own."

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