Shanta Balu Pawar – Pune’s Warrior Aaji

A 86 year old grandmother performing lathi-kathi, a type of martial arts with sticks on the streets is indeed a rare sight. But Pune city’s Shanta Balu Pawar’s life won’t move on if she does not perform on the street even amidst the pandemic.

Shanta Balu Pawar has been performing lathi-kathi and walking on tightropes since the age of eight. This ‘warrior aaji’ performs in the Gosavi Vasti area near Hadapsar. Her son lost his job in the pandemic and Shanta Balu Panwar’s performance feeds the 20-member family of her. 16 of her 20 member family are her grandchildren. According to her, if she does not come to the street to perform, who will take care of her family. This feisty woman says that till her children have their ‘aaji’ they will never have to worry about food.

Shanta Balu’s life changed as her video of her incredible skills went viral on social media in 2020. Many celebrities including Sonu Sood and Ritesh Deshmukh and other netizens stepped in to help Shanta Balu and helped her set up a martial arts training center for children. Today Shanta Balu is a martial arts and self-defense trainer for children.

The martial arts school suffered a bit in the latter half of the year, and Shanta had to return to the streets to earn money for her family. However, this aaji is not giving up and would continue to fight for her family with her skills. 

Interestingly she was also a part of the movie ‘Seeta aur Geeta’ which came out in 1972 and starred Hema Malini and Dharmendra. 

Poorna Krishnan