On the streets of Pune, Shanta Balu Pawar is a familiar face. Since the age of eight, she has been honing skills in lathi-kathi and walking on tightropes. And now, at 86, neither her energy, nor her dexterity have faded.
This ‘warrior aaji’ performs in the Gosavi Vasti area, and her amazing talent helps feed her 20-member family as well.
Shanta is not just a street performer. She has also set up an academy to teach martial arts and self defence to several children in the area. This school came into existence in 2020, after her performance video went viral on social media. With the generous support of netizens including celebrities like Sonu Sood and Riteish Deshmukh, Shanta set up the school.
However, the spread of the coronavirus has put a roadblock in her work, forcing her to come back onto the streets to earn a living. Her son also lost his job during the lockdown, and the octogenarian became the only earning member of her family.
But overcoming obstacles is an energy booster of sorts for Shanta. Her strong and graceful moves have never failed to amaze. “I can’t sit at home doing nothing. Till the time these kids have their aaji, they will not have to worry about going hungry,” says the feisty woman.
Interestingly, she was also part of the 1972 film Seeta Aur Geeta, starring Hema Malini and Dharmendra!