Mallika Sarabhai, a multifaceted personality, is a noted Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer. She has immensely contributed to the fields of acting, writing and publishing. She is a social activist and has participated in many socio-developmental projects initiated by the United Nations. Mallika Sarabhai has also received the “French Palme D’or”, the highest civilian award of France
Born to famous dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai and reputed space scientist Vikram
Sarabhai, Mallika is a woman of many dimensions and talents. She is a noted dancer, film maker, TV anchor and social activist. Mallika Sarabhai, an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, was trained by R. Acharyelu in Kuchipudi. As a young dancer, Mallika won many international awards for her classical dance including the “French Palme D’or”, the highest civilian award of France. In 1977, she took over the reigns of Darpana, the arts academy founded by her parents.
Theater and Dances
Mallika Sarabhai’s theatre works reflect the challenges of the society and sends a strong message. Her natural charm with conviction creates a unique style of presentation. Following are some of the works performed by her:
“Unheard Voices” is a physical, musical theatre piece. It is based on Harsh Mander’s book “Unheard Voices”. The story is about the lives of marginalized faces – the beggars, children at the Traffic Signal and “chhotu”, the little child at roadside restaurant. These are stores of struggle and courage.
Then, Now, Forever: This revolves around the multiple lifestyle of the people of India. It attempts to show the resemblance between the life of the tribal of Mizoram and their lifestyles with the bollywood. The show takes the audience from the temples of southern India to the forests of the Dangs and the minds of today’s creators.
Mallika Sarabhai started her acting career at the age of fifteen and has worked in more than 30 films. In 1984, she played the character of Draupadi in “The Mahabharata”, directed by renowned director Peter Brook. The movie was launched in French and English. Some of her critically acclaimed films include “Lovesongs: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”, Peter Brook’s “The Mahabharata”, “Kahkasha”, “A Thousand Flowers” and “Katha”.
In 1982, she founded the “Darpana for Development” concentrating on the development of performance as a language for change. She also formed “JANAVAK”, the voice of the people, to archive and preserve the folk and tribal culture of India.
Deeply excited by the possibility of continuing the work as an activist on TV, in 2001 she launched Darpana Communications. She has also produced over 2500 hours of broadcast programming in Gujarati dealing, with social issues like gender bias, communal hatred, the environment, corruption, violence etc.
Mallika Sarabhai never tried to confine herself into a single character. After being recognized as a reputed dancer and film actor, she has also made herself count in the world of publications. In 1979, Mallika Sarabhai published India’s first design magazine, called Inside Outside. Following are some of the acclaimed books published by Mallika Sarabahi and Mapin Publishing Private Limited.
- India’s Daughters
- Cultural Guide to Ahmedabad
- Spectacular India
- Jute Handlooms of India
- Sufism And Beyond
- Romance of Golconda Diamonds
- From Mustard Fields to Disco Lights
- Parvati: Goddess of Love
- Documenting Chandigarh
- Image & Imagination:5 Indian Artists
- Performing Arts of Kerala
- Understanding Kuchipudi (Co-Author)
- Krishna as Shrinathji: Miniature Paintings From Nathdwara
In an effort to serve the society, Mallika Sarabhai took up many developmental projects including the “The Acting Healthy Project” (2008). The project supported by ArtVenture took crucial learning on how to avoid maternal deaths and infant deaths amongst the very deprived communities. Besides, she has also played an active role in the UNICEF Peer Educators Project, UNICEF Anandshala Project in 2005- 2007 FATEHPURA Model village project and UNICEF Rural Health Project.
Awards & Honours
- Crystal Award by World Economic Forum, 2008 for recognition of her contribution in art and culture to promote global peace.
- Theatre Pasta Theatre Award,2007
- Nominated as one among 1000 women for Nobel Peace Prize ,2005
- Indian for Collective Actions Honour Award,, 2004
- Kala Shiromani Purskar , Institute of Economic Studies,2004
- Woman of the Year , Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC),2003
- Knight of the Order of Arts & Letters, French Government 2002
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Creative Dance, 2001
- Chevalier des Palmes Academiques, French Government, 1999
- Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, Sheesha ,1984
- Best Film Actress Award, Mena Gurjari,Govt.of Gujarat,1975
- Film Critics Award for Best Actress, Muthi Bhar Chawal 1974