‘No Modi Critics’: Mallika Sarabhai’s Performance Cancelled After Culture
Minister’s Diktat

After G. Kishan Reddy scuppered the performance that was supposed to happen
at the Ramappa temple – a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in Warangal
district of Telangana, it was instead held in an open ground.

The Wire Staff
16 hours ago

Mallika Sarabhai and her troupe performing in Warangal, Telangana on
January 21, 2023.

Photo courtesy: Darpana
Mallika Sarabhai and her troupe performing in Warangal, Telangana on
January 21, 2023.

New Delhi: On January 16, the trustees at the Kakatiya Heritage Trust
received a call from the Union culture minister G. Kishan Reddy’s office
denying permission for eminent Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi danseuse Mallika
Sarabhai’s performance at the Ramappa temple – a UNESCO World Heritage
Monument – in Warangal district of Telangana. The demand, Sarabhai says,
was very clear. “Either drop Mallika Sarabhai from the list of performers
at the Ramappa temple in Warangal or simply cancel the festival.”

The organisers, defying the minister’s “oral denial” of permission, went
ahead with the event on January 21. But instead of holding the event inside
the temple, it was moved to an open venue close by, KUDA Open Grounds. And
the 68-year-old danseuse says over 4,000 people gathered to see her and her
troupe perform.

Photo: Mallika Sarabhai/Facebook
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Sarabhai, a vociferous critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his
tenure as chief minister of Gujarat, says Reddy in his call had made it
evident that he didn’t want any “Modi critic” to perform at such a
prominent event. The Ramappa Festival was organised to celebrate one year
of getting UNESCO’s recognition. “The minister simply ordered that I should
not be allowed to dance. I was denied the space only because of my
political stand against the BJP and its Hindutva politics,” she said.

Reddy had reportedly called up the trustees of the organisation soon after
her public speech at Kolkata, where the 68-year-old classical dancer had
voiced disappointment over the “complete destruction of ideals” in the
country. She had criticised the current regime for “shoving Hindutva down
the throat of people in the name of Hinduism”.

This is not the first time that Sarabhai had faced such disruption. In
2020, Sarabhai was invited to be the chief guest at the National Institute
of Design convocation. But the convocation itself was called off and the
institute simply said it was due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Sarabhai
says she was going to speak of the designs and the Indian heritage at the
convocation ceremony. “In the past two decades, I have faced many such
interruptions from the government. But it is becoming more and more
brazen,” she says.

Also Read: ‘I Turn to You as Our Only Hope’: The Speech Mallika Sarabhai
Planned to Make at NID

The event at Warangal was well organised, Sarabhai said. “The Telangana
government and the local administration made all arrangements within a
short notice of 48 hours and managed a crowd of over 4,000 people. They
also ensured the show went off peacefully,” she said.

Sarabhai says these arm-twisting tactics of the BJP-led government only
amuse her. “It is similar to a book ban. When the state bans a book,
everyone is rushing to get a copy of the book. If you ban my performance,
more and more people will turn up in my support and to watch my art,” she

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