A rapt audience watched as renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Mallika Sarabhai performed Celebrating Tala, a four-act dance recital, with her son Revanta Sarabhai, at Cross Maidan on Tuesday.
The performance was held as part of the Sony Liv dance section of the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, and was hosted by Fever 104 FM RJ Adaah.
The performance began with a traditional composition, a rhythm contest or jugalbandi between Shiva and Parvati.
This was followed by a contemporary set. The lyrics were projected onto a giant screen: “In a world filled with hate, can love be wrong?”. Through her performance, Mallika Sarabhai questioned Lord Krishna about the atmosphere of hate where same-sex love and inter-community relationships are concerned, and about how violence inflicted on such people is considered righteous.
In another contemporary piece, performed by Revanta, the dancer questioned the need for Lord Shiva, the destroyer, at a time when humans are doing his job, destroying forests and polluting rivers.
The evening ended with a thillana, a Hindi composition by composer Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, titled Geet Dhvaniki, to which mother and son performed together.
“The choreography is contemporary. The pieces speaking of current issues like the destruction of our natural habitat and sexuality were both written recently by me in English, translated to the Tamil and created as a Bharatanatyam piece,” said Mallika Sarabhai.
“My mother and I have been dancing together for years now and it is an incredibly joyful experience. There is a deep love for each other and for what we do that is apparent on stage,” Revanta added.
AS Lakshmi, 55, a government auditor from Napean Sea Road, would agree. “I am a lover of classical dance and I found the performance very powerful and unusual for Bharatanatyam. I really liked the abhinaya and watching the mother and son perform together was quite an experience,” he said.
For Gayatri Pandya, 28, an MA Literature student from Kandivali, the entire experience was “fantastic”. “The open-air setting, the lights and the ambience all added to the performance. It was a rare opportunity to see Mallika Sarabhai and her son perform,” she said.