Veteran dancer and choreographer Amala Shankar bid adieu to this world today at the age of 101 in Kolkata. The news of her demise was confirmed by her grand-daughter Sreenanda Shankar on social media. Sreenanda, sharing some pictures with her ‘Thamma’, wrote, “Today my Thamma left us at the age of 101. We just celebrated her birthday last month. Feeling so restless that there is no flight from Mumbai to Kolkata.” She also thanked her grandmother for everything.
Today my Thamma left us at the age of 101. We just celebrated her birthday last month. Feeling so restless that there is no flight from Mumbai to Kolkata. Heartbroken 💔May her soul Rest in peace. This is an end of an era. Love you Thamma. Thank you everything. #AmalaShankar pic.twitter.com/tDh2dkdRhn— Sreenanda Shankar (@Sreenanda) July 24, 2020
Born in 1919, the danseuse was the wife of legendary choreographer Uday Shankar, who was also her guru. She met him in France in 1930 where she had gone with her father Akshay Nandy, at the International Colonial Exhibition. At that time, she was just 11. Uday had come there with his troupe.
Uday’s mother Hemangini Devi during the France trip requested Amala’s parents to leave her with the troupe. When Uday, who was 30 at that time, asked her to try out a few steps, she pulled them off with proper expressions on her face. He got impressed with her and asserted that Amala would become a dancer.
Amala delivered her first performance as Kaliya in ‘Kaliya Daman’ in 1931 in Belgium.
She and Uday got married in 1942 after a few years of courtship. He had proposed to her in 1939 in Chennai.
Amala went on to play the lead role in Uday’s film Kalpana (1948). The movie was about a young dancer’s dream who wanted to set up a dance academy. She also walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival.
She was conferred with Banga Vibhushan award by the West Bengal government in 2011. A year later, she was awarded Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Ratna for her contribution to dance.