Dancer, choreographer, actor, and writer Mallika Sarabhai (born 1953) has been using art as a medium to fight injustice for the past 22 years. From working with children to working on making space for women's issues in the media, Mallika has helped expand the role of art in social change. At present, she is engaged in a legal battle with the Gujarat government on the "planned genocide" of Muslims in 2002, an action that has caused the government to lash out at her with all its resources.
Mallika is known across the world as a dancer, choreographer, director of experimental theater, actor, writer, editor, and publisher, and many other things besides. And through the status she enjoys across the world as a performer, Mallika has dedicated her entire life to fighting injustice. For the past 22 years, her writing columns and articles, performances, which include touring the remotest Indian villages as well as across the world, her work in urban slums and villages, and with children in schools have set the tone. Most recently, Mallika stood up to fight a legal battle with the Gujarat government about the "planned genocide" of Muslims in 2002, following the Godhra train conflagration. She has been threatened, pilloried, and accused of misrepresenting facts by the Gujarat government, but she has remained steadfast in her convictions. Through her work with the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, of which she is director, and Darpana's social wing, Darpana for Development, Mallika has reached distant audiences. She also initiated Jaagruti, a project that involves schoolchildren in environmental issues, in which all levels of Ahmedabad's school system participate. In addition, she has initiated several other projects: on ethics, capacity-building of tribal women, and initiating discussions on women's issues in the media. Mallika believes that the performing arts can play a vital role in reaching out to people, especially those who are deprived of social and educational privileges. Her work is multilayered; some of it is at the grassroots, some of it among the urban underprivileged, some of it among the urban middle class, and some of it among the urban elite.
Darpana Academy of Performing Arts