Eminent Indian Dance Historian who Inspired Hema Malni, Sunil Kothari Passes Away Age 87

Sunil Kothari, esteemed Indian dance historian, scholar and critic has passed away at age 87 after being diagnosed with COVID-19 last month.

Sunil Kothari passed away at age 87 on Sunday morning owing to COVID-19 related complications in a private hospital in Delhi, The Hindu reports.

Kothari was a Sangeet Natak Akademi fellow (national level academy for performing arts set up by the Government of India) and blazed a trail in documenting Indian classical dance forms.

Born in Kheda district of Gujarat, Kothari qualified as a Chartered Accountant and taught in Mumbai’s Sydenham College for a brief while before turning to dance studies. He completed his Ph.D. on the dance drama traditions of South India, and Natyashastra in 1977 from M.S. University, Baroda. He was awarded a D.Litt. by the Rabindra Bharti University for his research on dance sculptures in the medieval temples of north Gujarat.

Hema Malni who herself is a trained classical dancer, reminisced her memories with Kothari. Taking to Twitter, she tweeted: “Sunil Kothari, eminent dance critic has passed away.He was one of those who encouraged me in the initial stage of my career. He was a passionate lover of art, a spl person who took grt interest in classical dance and encouraged young dancers. Will truly miss u Sunilji.”

Kothari was ‘instrumental’ in establishing the School of Arts and Aesthetics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and mentored many art scholars, says The Hindu. Somebody who believed in nurturing relationships, Kothari was a globetrotter and seldom missed an event.

“While documenting any art form, he inspired students to follow a ‘people-first’ approach to understand the artiste and their passion for the art first, emphasising that it will lead to a deeper understanding of their art form,” said arts writer Shrinkhla Sahai, a student of Kothari at JNU.

Kothari had been hospitalised for a long time after he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. While Kothari was being treated at home, he was rushed to the hospital on Sunday following a cardiac arrest.


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