Guru Munna Shukla
Born on December 7, 1943 Guru Munna Shukla is a leading light of the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak. He is the grandson of the Great Kathak Maestro, Achhan Maharaj and the nephew of the brilliant and illustrious Birju Maharaj.
Surrounded by the atmosphere of music and dance in Kanpur, Munna Shukla began his training in kathak with his father, Sunder Lal Shukla, disciple of Achhan Maharaj. His childhood memories are alive with occasions of playing hide-and- seek with Birju Maharaj and his other playmates. A trait that set him apart from others was the keen interest with which he followed his academic studies.
In 1960, Munna Shukla moved to Delhi to be with his great uncle the great kathak maestro Shambhu Maharaj, maternal uncle, Birju Maharaj and brother in law Manika
Prasad, a brilliant tabla percussionist. It was with Manika ji that Munna Shukla began his training in tabla. At the end of one year his learning took him to studying kathak with Birju Maharaj. He joined the Ballet unit of Shri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra.
In 1964,he was awarded National scholarship for advanced training in kathak by the government of India. He became the Ganda Bandh shagird of Birju Maharaj and for the next three years underwent rigorous training as a soloist, apart from participating regularly in his Guru's group compositions. He now felt an intense desire to teach and create independently.
He moved to Pune in 1968. The next seven years saw him imparting training to the advanced students of kathak, both Indian and of foreign origin, at Kala Chaya, Pune. Munna ji's perseverance bore fruit and he carved a niche for himself in the art circles. His choreographic works in Pune include Taal Maala, Taal Chakra, HimRaja. Rajput Ramani, Shahi Mehfil, Hindola, Kaliya Daman, Bansi Leela and Shyam Bansuria. He contributed to the Poona Film Institute and Marathi Theatre as well. His creative talent in choreography came in much acclaim by both, connoisseurs and the press.
At this point he felt the need to move to Delhi to reach out for new horizons and also have access to the progressive work that was going on in Delhi. In 1975, he joined Shri Ram Bhartiya Kendra, as a member of the teaching faculty.
One year later he was called to join the National Institute of Kathak, New Delhi, to join its teaching faculty. Over the years he trained several artistes, a number of whom are active in the field, not only as solo artistes, but also as thinking individuals who are making a very positive contribution to the evolution of artistic sensibilities in society today. Guru ji's total commitment and dedication has been the inspiring force behind them .
An expert resource-person with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan , the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and Spic Macay, he is associated with Nalanda VishvaVidyalaya as Visiting Professor. His expertise has proved very useful to framing of policy in some of the prominent cultural institutions of the country. Nalanda University, Bombay run by Dr. Kanak Rele invited Munna Ji's inputs in course designing of North Indian Taal and Aesthetics of Kathak.
TRAVELSIn September 2008 The Geneva audience had a chance to appreciate and attend a concert of Guru Shri Munna Shukla and his disciples organized by SERGE DE PAHLEN (the Lvovs and de Pahlens, the princely ancestors of Serge, are the art connoisseurs and benefactors in Russian history) .
His travels abroad have led him to teach at Yakshini Kathak Centre, Tokyo and perform in Japan in 1986. In 1988, 1989 and 1994 he presented his students at the Festival of India, U.S.S.R and in Europe and Africa during tours organised by I.C.C.R. In 1995,he went on a performance-cum–lec-dem tour of Singapore. In 1997 his work was presented by I.C.C.R. at the 50th year of India’s Independence celebrations in the Maldives during the celebration of 50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE.
Awards/ Honours• Saraswati Samman 2011.
• Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. 2006;
• Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman, 2003;
• Sarangdeo Award by Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai, 1989;
• Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, 1988.