BENGALURU : Bengaluru-based Kathakali artiste Prabal Gupta has been awarded the Outstanding Citizen Award by New York City Council while he was in the US to perform in August.
“I was doing five shows in New York, California and San Francisco. After my performance at the Drive East festival (August 13 to 19 in New York and San Francisco), I was told by the director of the festival, Sridhar Shanmugam, that there’s a surprise in store for me.
After my last performance on September 1 at Shaneeshwara temple at New Hyde Park, they announced that I’d be receiving this award. I was speechless and astonished. Perhaps, the city council members saw my performance — Cleopatra — at New York at the festival. It was a unanimous decision,” he says. He was presented the award by council member Barry S Grodenchik. He adds, “I do not even know how I received this award — I do not live in New York, nor do I have a Green Card. Many Indian senior artistes, who live in New York didn’t receive it.”
Prabal says that with this award, his responsibility towards promoting the art form has increased. “I want to promote Kathakali across the world. I hope this award opens up more avenues for me,” he says, adding that compared to other art forms like Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kathak, Kathakali isn’t well appreciated. “I have noticed that I get more shows outside Bengaluru, despite me residing here. I hope that I get more opportunities and more people invite me to perform,” says Prabal, who was also awarded ‘Outstanding Artiste’ by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India in 2016.
The 42-year-old has been performing for over two decades. He says he was always been fascinated by the makeup, costumes and the sounds of the chenda. He is a disciple of Kathakali exponent and Central Sangeet Natak Academy awardee Sadanam Balakrishnan. He had also been invited to the USA to promote Kathakali through workshops, lectures, demonstrations. He is acclaimed for three productions — Lady Macbeth, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth; Cleopatra – an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra and Manasa Charitam, an adaptation of Manasa Mangal.