Saturday, 17 May 2014

Roses & Thorns - L’Affaire Pasha-Rani - Anita Ratnam

It started with an e-mail from writer/scholar Ashish Mohan Khokar. The mail contained a link to an article from the Indian Express about the surprising arrest of dancer turned choreographer extraordinaire for Special Needs artistes, Syed Sallauddin Pasha. The report was shocking and very disturbing. As soon as I posted it on my Facebook page, a torrent of remarks poured in. Against the backdrop of the Nirbhaya episode in December 2012, society and lawmakers have been vigilant about screaming opinion and comments about rape, sexual abuse and the growing atrocities against women. Place this against the unsavoury practice of some male dance gurus preying upon their female students, and you have a blockbuster drama on your hands.
Pasha has won accolades for his imaginative choreography and his supporters from the Bangalore dance community were quick to react with shock and full scale support in his favour. His marriage to Kathak artiste Rani Khanam was reportedly shaky over the past few years and some say they were even heading towards a divorce.

With Pasha now in Tihar jail and his students of the AUF (Ability Unlimited Foundation) unable to get a hearing of their side of the story, it is difficult to mobilise sympathy for Pasha. Does this matter involve the land that was granted to him for his new institute? Is there more than meets the eye?

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