BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL: DANSEUSE MALLIKA SARABHAI

Posted: October 30, 2011 in Icons, The NamoLeague Times
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The dazzling Mallika Sarabhai is a combination of many qualities and all of them vie for excellence. She is the pride of Ahmedabad, Gujarat and the daughter of the dancing legend Mrinalini Sarabhai and the renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai. One of the leading exponents of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi, Mallika is also a noted filmmaker, internationally known choreographer, an actor, a TV anchor, an editor, a publisher and a social activist. She is a representative of India for CIOFF (an internationally acclaimed organization for folk dances).

THE BABY STEPS

Born on 9th May 1954, Mallika began her film career when she was only 15. She started dancing, as they say, before she even learnt to walk. She completed her MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in 1974 and Doctorate in Organizational Behavior from the Gujarat University in 1976.

THE WORLD OF PERFORMANCE

Mallika started with a few Gujarati and Hindi films. She first came to international notice when she played the role of ‘Draupadi’ in Peter Brook’s ‘The Mahabharata’ for 5 years, first in French and then English. After completing her graduation, Mallika entered the world of performing arts. She stared at thousands of Indians from the small screen, daring them with “maley soor jo tara maro…” and has wowed audiences from all six continents with her performance as Draupadi. She followed the footsteps of her mother and dancing became her first love. “Bharat Natyam is like a Banyan tree with great roots. You can bend it, turn it, do whatever you want, but its roots remain strong. And how many more love varnams can I do? I want to take dance further, to use it as a language, as an agent of change,” says Mallika in an interview.

WORK FOR CHANGE

Always an activist for societal education and women’s empowerment, Mallika began using her work for change. In 1989, she created the first of her hard-hitting solo theatrical works, Shakti – the Power of Women. Since then, Mallika has created numerous stage productions which have raised awareness, highlighted crucial issues and advocated change. Her other experiments include compositions like Draupadi, Sita’s Daughters, Itan Kahani, Aspiration, Ganga, Surya etc.
In 2009, Mallika Sarabhai acted in Bertolt Brecht’s Indian adaptation of ‘The Good Person of Szechwan’ (Ahmedabad ki Aurat Bhali-Ramkali) directed by Arvind Gaur in the 34th Vikram Sarabhai International Art Festival.

DARPANA ACADEMY

Mallika, along with her mother, administers the functioning of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, which is located at Ahmedabad. It is a unique centre for arts which has performed all over India and abroad. Today the academy has many faces. There is Darpana for Development, which makes performing arts modules for development issues; Janavak, an authentic Indian folk dance group that aims at folk revival; Chitrakathi, a film unit that prepares educational films and TV material; Mapin Publications that publishes books on Indian heritage; Kritikranti, a trust for interdisciplinary work in the arts and crafts; Jagruti, a project for environment empowerment; the Value Project that familiarizes children with moral dilemmas; Parivartan which seeks to bring about changes in the life of Bhil women; and Centre for Non-violence through the Arts.

OF COURAGE AND AUDACITY

Mallika’s college days saw her wearing mini-skirts, dating men, even going in for a live-in relationship. She recalls her mother’s horror when she first started living with somebody, “I explained to her why it was important for me to find out if I wanted a permanent commitment or not.” But the best part is that she has always done things without hiding them.
Mallika met Bipin Shah during her college days and eventually married him. They were divorced 7 years later. They have 2 children, a son, Revanta and a daughter, Anahita.

INTO POLITICS

Mallika entered into the field of politics and announced her candidature against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, as an independent candidate. She described her candidature as a Satyagraha against the politics of hatred. She eventually lost by a huge margin and forfeited her election deposit in the process.

MUCH DESERVED RECOGNITIONS

The first award she received was in 1977. However, the award closest to Mallika’s heart is the one she received in Paris, a few years ago, for Best Soloist Artist, after being chosen from among 400 dancers from 25 countries. She was the proud recipient of the French Palme D’Or, the Highest Civilian Award conferred by the French Government, among many other awards.
Playing roles as diverse as a mother and a choreographer, and pursuing her interests like writing and social service, Mallika is known to always put her best foot forward. She is a strong character with her own ideas and she feels that dance is a living language which you can interpret the way you think best.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=Bold%20And%20Beautiful%20:%20Danseuse%20Mallika%20Sarabhai_647

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