Saturday, August 14, 2004

Colours of the Heart performance in Bangalore

A few weeks ago I saw a musical performance by Mallika Sarabhai and her troupe of "international dancers" in a production called Colours of the Heart at Chowdiah Hall in Bangalore. It was the first time I was going to see a Mallika Sarabhai production. Sad to say that it was the most disappointing of shows. Instead of performing at a hall like Chowdiah, she should have made it into a street performance because that was the caliber of it. Fifteen or twenty minutes into the show, I realized that the entire thing was going to be makeshift and haphazard with no costume changes, no sets (just a black backdrop) no orchestra, terrible lighting and most disappointing of all no dances to speak of. For the Pakistani singer Samia Malik's last song, Mallika just stood at the edge of the stage and clapped her hands as she encouraged the audience to join in. Quite ridiculous, I thought. I didn't much care to join in as there was nothing to applaud at all.
The show was sponsored by the Bangalore School of Music, who should be embarrassed by the level of the performance and must have got taken in just with Mallika Sarabhai's name. It was in bad taste of Sarabhai to bring up what happened to her in Gujarat, her going underground to avoid being arrested and the candlestine rehearsals, email conferences etc. The show was bad enough for it end on an even worse note. The "international dancers" were 5 girls from Italy, America, Pakistan, Malaysia (maybe!) etc who related their own instances of discrimination and prejudice.
Instead of ending on an uplifting and triumphant note, it continued to be depressing and negative. Mallika Sarabhai has been very short-sighted. In her vendetta to get back to the people who were gunning for her, she has damaged her image and performance value as an artiste for the long term.

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