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Dancer Ram Gopal's ashes to be scattered in France
Shyam Bhatia in London | October 23, 2003 20:10 IST
Last Updated: October 23, 2003 21:16 IST
Legendary Indian classical dancer Pandit Ram Gopal is to have his ashes scattered in the grounds of a family chateau in the south of France, it has been revealed.
Gopal, 92, who died earlier this month at a London Care Home, was revered along with Uday Shankar as an icon of Indian classical dance.
His extraordinary beauty and inspired rendition of Bharatnatyam, Kathak and Kathakali won him a widespread international following.
Sixty one years later - in 2000 - he was received by Queen Elizabeth II, who awarded him the Order of the British Empire.
In the last year of his life, Gopal was increasingly confined to his room at the Norbury Care Home in Croydon, South London. The end came just after midnight on October 12, his long time friend Ms Pam Cullen told rediff.com.
Miss Cullen, a former culture adviser to the Indian High Commission in London, also revealed that Gopal's ashes are being taken to France this week to be scattered in the grounds of the chateau owned by the Lamorrise family.
At the invitation of Mrs Claude Lamorrise, Gopal spent a decade living at the chateau as a friend of the family and a permanent guest. Earlier, Lamorrise had lost her filmmaker husband, Albert, in a helicopter accident.
It was the Yuvraj's generous patronage that enabled Gopal to move to London where he would become associated with some of the greatest ballet dancers of all times, including Alicia Markova, with whom he danced a famous Radha
Unable to settle back into Bangalore in his old age, Gopal telephoned Pam Cullen in London and told her he was returning to the British capital.
It was Cullen who arranged for him to be admitted to a Care Home near her own house in Surrey.
For the past three years she had his power of attorney and walked over to see him several times a week.
"I went to Heathrow airport to get him but he didn't know who I was," Cullen recalls. "I got him into the car and finally he clicked back and said, 'Take me to my hotel' ( The Rembrandt) in London."
"I managed to get him into Norbury Care Home run by an Indian couple. They had a lovely room on the first floor overlooking a park. Paintings of his mother and father and a Nataraj were all that was left of his treasured possessions.
"Of course people came and paid tribute to him and sat by him, three or four every week, That kept him alive, but he was starting to sink."
The cost of keeping Gopal in the Norbury care home was picked up by the Lamorrise family, Cruydon Council and the Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund.
Mira Kaushik, director of the London-based contemporary dance company Akademi, met him 20 years ago and describes him as a Maharaja figure who single-handedly raised the profile of classical Indian dance in the West.
Gopal became a patron of Akademi and it was at a 21st birthday function to celebrate Akademi's coming of age that he made his last public appearance two years ago in 2001.