Friday 22 November 2019

Arguing for a humanised rather than an idealised body - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

At Habitat's Gulmohar, the fourth lecture of the Kelucharan Mohapatra series organized by Art Matters, saw Sadanand Menon, Art commentator, (according to chairman Ashok Vajpeyi, one of the few really informed speakers on art) speak on Dancing Democracy.

In a hard hitting talk, Sadanand first put the search light on the opinion of a top bureaucrat who happened to be the Indian ambassador in the then Soviet Union of the eighties, when the Festival of India was held in that country. A wonderfully made documentary Sahaja by a top Kerala film maker (which in a later film festival in Japan won the award as the best documentary) on the Ardhanariswara concept, with clips by male dancers in stree vesha, or interpreting poetry defining a nayika like Radha, for example - slated to be screened during the opening of the exhibition in Moscow, was banned by the ambassador as an oddity presenting an unnatural and grossly lop-sided picture of India! The resulting fracas had the Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi lightly making a point during the inauguration later that the ambassador was perhaps thinking of a 'Poora Mard' whereas we know that it is only one particular set of chromosomes which differentiates the male from the female. Actually femininity exists in every male just as there is masculinity in every female. Sadanand's story was to prove that the watchword for the State in a democracy should be accountability, and not arrogance of power. And the worse sin is when authoritarian negativism stems from a lack of knowledge on the subject concerned.

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