Acclaimed Bharatnatyam exponent, actor, choreographer, social activist and crusader for women’s empowerment, Mallika Sarabhai cannot be introduced in a single sobriquet.
On Thursday, the danseuse — with pianist Elizabeth Sombart — showed how flight of art and strength of mind could open vistas for introspection and social change besides being aesthetically delightful.
Sarabhai was in city for staging her prestigious production Women with Broken Wings organised by Chandigarh Police and PG Government College for Girls, Sector 42, at Tagore Theatre.
While the nation has been gripped by the issue of violence against women for the past some days, Sarabhai has been engaged in awakening the society and encouraging women to rise and learn to fight for their rights and respectful living for the past many years.
“Woman has been the most important and integral part of family and society since the inception of the world. So much so that she had been eulogised as goddess and enshrined in epics, but unfortunately she has always been accorded a secondary status,” says Sarabhai, one of India’s leading choreographers and dancers who has her dance company, Darpana, which creates and performs both classical and contemporary works.
“Today when our society is caught between the western influence and traditional beliefs with deteriorating ethical values, woman is subjected to torment in all segments of society; even girl child is considered to be a harbinger of curse,” says an emotionally charged Sarabhai.
“With an education in organisational behaviour, I had already taken up the gender issue in my earlier production, Sita’s Daughter. But, as you know, education, media and performing arts — the effective instruments of social change — can bring results if all team up to further create awareness; also women must rise to the occasion to protect themselves, raise an alarm whenever anyone is humiliated, insulted or molested,” she says.
“Learning martial arts and practising it is the need of the hour; mere slogan shouting is not a solution. NGOs, social scientists and the government must come forward to contribute to a meaningful life for one and all in the society,” believes Sarabhai.
Endorsing her views, renowned pianist Elizabeth Sombart who is a fellow crusader of Sarabhai, adds that crime against women is not limited to India; the evil has engulfed the world but some countries are quick to realize, analyse and take corrective action.
“Our movement, ‘One Billion Rising’ is a worldwide campaign to stand up against the subjugation of women across the globe – those who suffer violence at home, at work, in public spaces and on the streets,” says Sombart.
Women with Broken Wings — the one-and-a-half-hour musical performance mirrors the condition of women around the world and their unspeakable pain.
Sarabhai and Sombart have conceptualised and created this performance in aid of ‘One Billion Rising’ and are reaching out through the power of their art to audiences in the cities of India to sensitise people into rising up against all forms of violence against women and girls.
Chandigarh Police has actively partnered with city colleges and schools to boost the self esteem and confidence of girls and send a message of zero tolerance for any kind of harassment.