Yoshika Sangal | July 1, 2016
Like several other members of her illustrious family, Mallika Sarabhai has excelled in more than one field.Daughter of renowned classical danseuse and activist Mrinalini Sarabhai and legendary space scientist and institution-builder Vikram Sarabhai, Mallika is a leading Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer, choreographer and acclaimed actress on stage and in films, publisher, mediaperson, and social-political activist. Her portrayal of Draupadi in British director Peter Brook’s play The Mahabharata was appreciated worldwide. She was conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for creative dance in 2000 and Padma Bhushan in 2010 for her contribution in the field of arts.
How would you describe yourself?
I actually leave that to others as I have no need to define myself and thus confine myself to neatly labelled boxes.
How have your parents influenced or inspired you?
They have inspired me in every way; amma, in her aesthetics and in her power to transform ideas through art forms and papa, in his true devotion to the last Indian and a multi-, plural, just and humane idea of India.
How did you turn from being a creative artist to being a social activist?
I didn’t turn into one from the other. Through amma’s work, my experience in the world over and playing Draupadi with Peter Brook, I realised the power of the arts to shift mindsets. And there are a lot of mindsets that I believe need drastic shifts!
You have done a number of programmes such the Fatehpur Model village project and JAGRUTI. How has been your experience of working with rural communities of Gujarat?
We [Darpana] have worked in rural and urban communities in many parts of the country on subjects ranging from the need to act healthy, to stopping violence against women to saving our earth. If you create a riveting performance or video, people will watch. And if they stay to watch, the thought you leave them with will lodge in their minds. That is the first step towards changing minds.
You contested the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in 2009. How was your experience in politics?
The experience was deeply moving and empowering. Seeing the truly wretched state of people who are supposed to be recipients of ‘development’ and seeing at first-hand how craven the officials were, was an eye-opener even for someone as aware as I like to be. I realised that it is impossible to win as an independent if one wants to be open and totally honest. The parties play really dirty and rough.
Which are the governance issues that need more urgent attention?
We have so many issues that pinpointing a single one is difficult. But the total lack of accountability from officials and the super rich ranks is high and leads to anger, distrust, cynicism and violence.
How would you define women empowerment?
An empowered woman neither defines herself by her gender nor limits her thoughts, choices or action because of her gender.
What would you say to the next generation?
You are probably living a life scripted by your parents, family or community. Have the courage to script your life and then live it.
As told to Yoshika Sangal
(The interview appears in June 16-30, 2016 issue of Governance Now)
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, HDFC, Tata Steel and Tech Mahindra are among the winners and the recipients of honourable mentions in the National CSR Awards 2020 announced by the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) on Thursday. The MCA instituted the annual National Corporate Social Respon
A good monsoon has left the trees all washed and spruced up. It’s right time to take a good look at them, and also to tell the young generation about their diversity. So, tree lovers across the country have joined hands to celebrate a festival of trees this month. The August Tree Fest
Unbounded: My Experiments with Law, Physics, Policing and Super 30 By Abhayanand Rupa Publications, 344 pages, Rs 595 Abhayanand has
India after 1947: Reflections & Recollections By Rajmohan Gandhi Aleph, 118 pages, Rs 399 Rajmohan Gandhi was about 11 when India won independence. As the nation celebrates 75 years of freedom, how would he – and others like him – feel?
The BrihanMumbai municipal corporation (BMC) has rebutted a Shiv Sena leader’s allegation of breach of protocol in the implementation of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign. On Friday Rahul Shewale, group leader of Shiv Sena in Lok Sabha, had accused BMC commissioner IS Chahal
Land in Mumbai city, which is surrounded by water on three sides, is scarce and has a premium. Property prices in certain areas of financial capital of the country are as much as Rs 1 lakh per sq ft. Yet, 5,800 buildings have been lying in a stalled condition for the last 18 years. Meanwhile