Sitara Devi


The entire Kathak world is mourning the loss of Sitara Devi. From the accounts I have read about her, she was a dynamic and charismatic personality. A lesser known fact was that she was a Bollywood star and had acted in many movies.

In his book “Stars from Another Sky” Saadat Hasan Manto says

Over the years, I have known and analysed many women but the more I learnt about her, the closer I came to the view that she was not a woman but a typhoon which did not blow in and out as typhoons do, but which retained its force and fury without showing any signs of weakening. She may have been a woman of average build but she was stronger than most people I have known. Had another woman suffered as many illnesses as she did, she could not have survived. Sitara was made of a different clay and was both brave and strong-minded. She never missed her morning dance exercises and spent at least an hour dancing as if there was no tomorrow.

Here are some (not exhaustive) vintage photos/stills and posters of Sitara Devi as a tribute to her that came in the Filmindia magazine in the late 30’s and early 40’s. Click on the images to see full-size.

Watan (1938)

Prithvi Putra (1938)


Professor Woman MSc (1938)


Achhut (1939)


India To-Day (1940)

Pagal (1940)


Puja (1940)

Roti (1942)

Dukh Sukh (1942)


Kalyug (1943)

Bhalai (1943)



Lekh (1949)

Hulchul (1949)




7 responses to “Sitara Devi

  1. That color photo from Kalyug is beautifully processed/tinted! And it looks like she danced in Prithvi Putra–would love to get a hold of the video…

  2. Thank you for these amazing visuals! It astonishes me how you locate them, I would never have recognized her from the pre-50s ones. The costumes look so strangely balletic, “oriental” contemporary and bollywood. (or am i a fossil?) This informs my understanding of kathak dance pre-6os.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Prof. Coorlawala. I think when I came across the “Watan” still I found it hard to realize that it was the same SItara Devi. Then, coming across more movie stills, I started recognizing her cherubic face easily. I think, some of the costumes are contemporary as per the demands of the character. (No, I don’t think you are a fossil) 🙂

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