The guid­ing light of In­dian dance

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE -

Mri­nalini Sarab­hai was one of the lead­ing lights of the In­dian dance scene for a long time and lived till her ripe old age.

I re­mem­ber her as some­one who was al­ways dressed very beau­ti­fully. She would wear beau­ti­ful saris, jew­ellery, ka­jal, a nose stud and had a very strik­ing per­sona.

She was a Malay­ali and be­longed to a very good fam­ily. Her father was a bar­ris­ter and her mother Ammu Swami­nathan, I re­mem­ber, was a very fa­mous so­cial worker who was ac­tively in­volved in the in­de­pen­dence strug­gle.

Mri­nalini ji learnt Bharatanatyam along with other dance forms and part­nered with the fa­mous dancer Ram Gopal.

Later, she met Vikram Sarab­hai, a sci­en­tist who be­longed to a Gu­jarati fam­ily and mar­ried him.

She came to live in Ahmed­abad in those early years when the city pri­mar­ily in­dulged in Gu­jarati cul­ture but she was able to in­stil in­ter­est in Bharatanatyam and Kathakali among the peo­ple there, es­pe­cially be­cause she started an in­sti­tu­tion. Around that time, she part­nered with Chathunni Pan­icker, a won­der­ful Kathakali dancer, and cre­ated some dance bal­lads such as Manushya… I for­get the other names be­cause they were per­formed so long ago and I had seen them in my teenage.

She es­tab­lished Bharatanay­tam and Kathakali and clas­si­cal dance in Ahmed­abad and trav­elled with her group abroad and got recog­nised in­ter­na­tion­ally.

All the while her hus­band Vi­ram Sarab­hai, who be­came a great sci­en­tist, sup­ported her to the hilt.

And not just dance, I also re­mem­ber that she had a lot of in­ter­est in hand­i­craft and hand­looms and was as­so­ci­ated with Gur­jari (Gu­jarat State Hand­i­crafts Em­po­rium). She was a multi-faceted per­son­al­ity and my con­do­lences to the fam­ily. I feel her mem­ory should al­ways be cel­e­brated.

(As told to Tor­sha Sen) (Sonal Mans­ingh is an em­i­nent In­dian clas­si­cal dancer and a Padma Vib­hushan awardee)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.