In spite of being a vocal critic of Narendra Modi and the BJP government in the state, renowned dancer and social activist, Mallika Sarabhai has received a congratulatory letter from Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel for her recent theatrical production ‘Kadak Badshahi’ that is set for a third season in January.
Sarabhai had posted the link of the letter on a social media website on Friday. The letter addressed to ‘Bahen Shree Mallika Sarabhai’ speaks about “Gujarat having maintained a unique identity since the millennia”.
“The spirit of being a Gujarati has drawn a sense of respect from everyone around the world. With the same goal, many Gujaratis who have reached the apex of their career around the world, also put in enormous efforts. Darpana Academy, Ahmedabad is spreading the goodness and vastness of culture through its endeavour. I extend my congratulations to the unique performance ‘Kadak Badshahi’ from 3rd to 9th December 2014 which has been a huge success depicting 603 years of the history of Ahmedabad,” wrote Anandiben Patel in a letter dated December 9, 2014.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Sarabhai, director of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, said that while she had invited the CM for the performance, she had also sought her help in projecting ‘Kadak Badshahi’ to a larger audience in the city. “The note by the CM first came by an email, and then in a letter form. I feel that the state government should take it (the production) up. I had already written a few weeks back to Anandiben and the Chairman of the Gujarat Sangeet Natak Akademy, that here is a performance that celebrates the city and we just happened to have performed it and there is no politics in it,” she said.
“I have written with a request that, post-monsoon, the production should get a venue like Shreyas Auditorium or the Vastrapur lake so that more people can see it. The production has run to packed houses and around 10,000 people have already seen it in the past two months. It is essential that every tourist to the city also gets to view it as it is a ‘feel good’ story about the city,” added Sarabhai who was the first to file a PIL in the Supreme Court over the 2002 communal riots and has criticised Modi and his ‘development claims’ at various public forums during his LS campaign.
Sarabhai averred that she has also written to the CM regarding a project that can go national based on gender equality, a subject that Anandiben Patel government has taken up at various levels. “Having worked with arts for social change for close to 35 years, I want to do a three-year pilot project of Sensitising Through the Arts for Gender Equality (STAGE) in 20 schools and colleges of the city and have shared the idea in the letter. We are currently in the process of crowd-funding the idea and want to reach out to thousands of young college students in Ahmedabad to create a just society,” she said.
‘Kadak Badshahi’ was first created by Darpana Academy in 2011 to celebrate 600 years of the city by using art forms like Bharatnatyam and Kathak to converge on stage. It also has eminent personalities from the city talking about their contribution to the city. The production, which was first performed on October 31 this year, had a successful run of 18 days. Directed by Sarabhai, filmmaker Yadavan Chandran and theatre-person Nisarg Trivedi, the production is back for its third season from January 12-23, 2015, owing to ‘tremendous demand’, says Sarabhai.
Incidentally, Sarabhai has, in the past, made several political points against the BJP. In March 2009, she had announced her candidature against BJP’s senior leader L K Advani for the Gandhinagar LS seat as an independent candidate and had lost by a huge margin.
Having joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January, she did not contest the 2014 LS polls as she was ‘sidelined’ by the party.