CALCUTTA: Be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water in a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot, is one of the famous quote used by Bruce Lee.

Karate is one of the oldest martial arts and this ancient game of self-defense is losing its importance day by day. But the City of Joy has its own Bruce Lee who is continuously bagging gold and silver medals in various international karate championships, representing his own country India.

But very few know about Kolkata's Bruce Lee. Prahlad Sardar, resident of South Kolkata's Baghajatin area, sets the benchmark every day in karate.

Prahlad lives in a slum with his mother Sabita Sardar and father Subal Sardar. A former rickshaw puller, his father had to stop working due to health problems, after which Prahlad had to take up the family responsibility.

From selling sugarcane juice to distributing papers daily in the morning to selling chicken, he has done much in his past. “I knew that doing these things wouldn't make my future bright, so I decided to do something in sports that would help me in future. But I never thought this decision instead of changing my life would push me into more darkness.”

Prahlad would hear a lot about Bruce Lee, and says he wondered “If Bruce Lee can do it, why can't we?” He made up his mind to learn karate.

Sardar started his career in 2008 when he was ten years old. “I would notice Prabir Mondal, a renowned karate sensei of the time who used to stay in my locality. One day I went to him and said I want to learn karate. And in reply, he told me to meet him at the Kishore Bharati Stadium,” he tells The Citizen.

“On reaching the ground he told me to run 20 laps but I fainted on my fifteenth. He helped me recover and told me I am made for the long run.”

Mondal was impressed by the incident and started giving Prahlad lessons free of cost, even gifting him a new uniform.

Five short years later in 2013, Prahlad applied for a black belt and bagged it. He participated in various national and international karate championships organised by the Indian Olympic Association and Commonwealth Karate Federation.

In 2017 Prahlad participated in the National Karate Championship Kumite (fight) and won silver. He won gold at the West Bengal State Karate Championship the same year. He represented India at the South Asia Sports Championship in 2018 bagging two golds for the nation.

His consistency proves his determination and skill. Sardar again bagged two golds at the YOJO Cup 2018 organised by the Indian Olympic Association and the Indian government.

Prahlad is setting an example for all karate lovers, but despite this he is not getting any help from the government of West Bengal. He has started his own training institute to teach women and children karate. He also trains various schoolchildren in the city.

“I don’t want this child to suffer like me, that’s why I give them lessons at a very low cost,” he says.

Some of his students have already represented their state or India in junior nationals and internationals, bagging gold, silver and bronze.

His students Anupama Jana, Pooja Sardar and Jia Roy represented India at the 9th International Invitational Karate Championship 2020 earlier this month, accompanied by Subham Joy Gayen, Nilanjan Sardar and Deep Das.

Sabita and Subal Sardar are very proud of their son. “We just want the government of West Bengal to help our son in the future, so Prahlad can achieve his dream of winning the World Championship.”