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Shaik Nadiya: An Epitome of Grit and Determination

Shaik Nadiya fought against all odds to become an accomplished Kuchipudi artiste. In a country, where secularism has always been a subject of debate, the story of Nadiya once again reasserts faith in Indian constitution and the concept of ‘Unity in Diversity’.Born on October 14, 1989, in Nellore District, Nadiya began learning Kuchipudi when she was 10 years old. A Telugu film titled Punnami Nagu with its snake dance inspired her towards dance. She continued her practice with the encouragement from her parents. “I was trying to do those difficult movements and my father Shaik Khader Basha has observed it and ask me if I want to learn dance. I said yes with a lot of excitement,” recollects Nadiya. Her father joined her in a dance institute but he was not happy with the teachers. He himself became a guru to her by learning the techniques of Yoga Asanas. He read a lot of books and her daily routine began to change. Her father woke her up at 4 AM and took her to the River Penna.

He made her practice in the sand and within 6 months of the time, she was ready to perform snake dance. “Surprisingly, I gave my first performance at the age of 11 in Nellore,” she says.

Her family faced a ban from the community for pursuing dance but her father Basha supported her passion for Indian dance. Interestingly, she even got married to a Hindu. It is rare to see a Muslim artiste learning Kuchipudi but she proved that religion is not a hindrance to pursue one’s passion. Wherever she performed, audiences have expressed surprise when they learnt about her religion.

Her father was her first guru and her mother took care of her makeup, costumes and all the other elements. She says that people of Nellore have been encouraging and wants to thank each and every person. Among the people of Nellore, JS Reddy,

Adala Prabhakar Reddy, Ratnam, Hazarath Babu and Amaravathi Krishna Reddy were some prominent personalities that she says have helped her. She is also grateful to all those who have been supporting her in the field of Dance .Her teachers Vedantam Purnachandra Rao, Mudhapaka Venkat and KV Satyanarayana played a major role in moulding her into a professional artiste. Kuchipudi is the traditional art form of Andhra Pradesh that originated in the village of Kuchipudi near Vijayawada. The founder of the art form was Siddhendra Yogi and when she began pursuing the art form, her relatives were totally negative about the idea and turned against her family.

Her father did not give in and put in efforts and made the family strong. To support her he read the Ramayana, Bharatham, Bhagavad Gita, Devi Bhagavatam and other historical stories. He gave her ideas on how to do and what to do and she imbibed them into her performances. She recorded and choreographed pieces on her own.According to her,

Kuchipudi, even today, still does not enjoy the reputation that it deserves. “I am very sorry to say that I am not satisfied with the reputation of Kuchipudi. The art form is a perfect platform to showcase any story including the religious aspects but many people even now do not know what is Kuchipudi?” she laments. 

She completed a certificate course in Bharatanatyam but she only performs Kuchipudi because she intends to promote Kuchipudi, the traditional dance of her motherland Andhra Pradesh. She always feels that dance is a god’s gift to her. She looks up to renowned Odissi artiste Sujata Mohapatra and her dad for inspiration and treats them as her role models.

Apart from dance, she is passionate about serving people who are in need. So far, she has been taking a little amount from her performance remuneration to help people in need.Speaking about her daily routine she says that two hours of yoga and dance practice every day is a must. She doesn’t follow a particular diet and prefers more fruits and vegetables to non-vegetarian food. Green tea is her favourite. She loves pets and in her free time, she likes playing with her kittens at home.The most challenging part in her life was when she joined in a company after completing her Engineering in Information Technology .

She had a tough task to manage both job and dance. “I had to choose one, it was a tough task to manage both, and without any other doubt, I quit the job. It was a challenging moment in my life,” she says.In 2015, she got a call from the Venkaiah Naidu’s house, the current Vice President of India asking her to perform at Delhi in the presence of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.

It was a proud and challenging moment for her. She showcased the talent and received appreciation from the Prime Minister. “Even today, I proudly say that Venkaiah Naidu garu and his daughter Deepa Venkat garu gave me a special platform,” she adds. Recently,

Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao of GMR Group announced to donate some funds to Swarna Bharat Trust, Nellore, to help the poor in learning the art form. It is her next challenge. According to her, fusion, 100% affects the purity of tradition because nowadays people on YouTube have been killing the purity of the classical art form by dancing to English songs instead of traditional classical music. She believes that if you carry talent and self-respect with you and put in hard work, you are bound to reach great heights irrespective of the profession. She opines that classical art forms help in creating awareness among the audience on various aspects like saving water, women harassment and others. Nadiya has some special skills and she is a unique artist with skills in Yoga, Skating, Singing, and Painting. She has won 3 Gold Medals at the state level in Yoga; 3 Bronze Medals at the national level in Yoga and two Silver Medals at the state level in Skating.

She has received Natyamayuri Award at age of twelve from Padmavathi University of Tirupati, Natya Shiromani Award from UNESCO Club of Palnadu, Guntur; Savitribai Phule Award, Nellore and Ugadi Puraskar from Government of Andhra Pradesh through the hands of Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

Some of the main events that she performed include Nandi Awards festival in Hyderabad and Republic Day Celebrations at Raj Bhavan, Chennai in the presence of honourable guests Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Tamil Nadu, Palani Swamy, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Panneerselvam, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

She says that dance festivals help artists in reaching greater heights. They help in giving an exposure both in India and abroad. “It’s very interesting wherever I performed abroad, people enjoyed a lot and said once more. I received standing applause and some people after my performance even come to the green room, hug me and cry. It shows how interested people are in Germany, USA, Canada and others. “I see myself as an Indian Ambassador for Kuchipudi,” she concludes.