Veteran dancer Tara Balgopal, who represented India in various countries and won awards the world over, was living a life of anonymity and utter penury in the Capital.
Balgopal, one of the most famous performers of Kathak, Kathakali and Bharatanatyam in the country, was living in a dilapidated room in west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden, filled with obscure household items.
A photo story by Hindustan Times’ Arun Sharma narrating the danseuse’s situation went viral online and changed things for better. It attracted the attention of numerous individuals and organisation to Balgopal’s miserable condition resulting in an aid of over Rs 8 lakh within a month for her.
“Heartfelt thanks to HT and Arun Sharma as my present predicament changed because of you,” the 80-year-old dancer said.
Sharmistha Mukherjee, the daughter of President Pranab Mukherjee and a trained Kathak dancer, was one of the first people to help Balgopal. Sharmistha ensured that the Sangeet Natak Academy pays a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 to the danseuse. She also told HT that students of the Academy would soon be taking dance lessons from Balgopal.
Advocate Nikhil Swarup also contributed immensely in helping Balgopal by starting an online campaign and collected funds for her with the help of friends and others. The money he collected ranged between Rs 100 and up to Rs 1 lakh.
Swarup said that Bollywood actor Kunal Khemu also helped with a large sum of money. Swarup started his online campaign after HT reported about her on October 5 and by November 11 more than 400 people had contributed towards the fund.
With aid flooding in, Balgopal, who didn’t have the luxury of having someone to cook meals for her, can now afford a help. She now has the walls of her previously dilapidated home painted, and her kitchen now has a refrigerator and a microwave among other things.