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Of creativity and kaapi

Mallika Sarabhai speaks about her new production, her love for coffee, dance and designing clothes



Auroville attracts: Mallika Sarabhai calls it an amazing experiment. — Pic. by T. Singaravelou

LOOKING RADIANT in a skirt and top, she walked the roads of Pondicherry and spoke to the people, visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and later in the day, gave a lecture at Auroville. Renowned danseuse and member of the Auroville Governing Board, Mallika Sarabhai, was here for a day. Instead of dancing, she described her experiences with Peter Brook and the making of the Mahabharata.

Seated comfortably on the ground, surrounded by Aurovilians, she answered questions about working with foreign artistes and more...

New production

She is at present working on a new production with actor-director Rita Maffei in Italy. "The project is called `Western Women' and is about the western perceptions of instant nirvana in India and the Indian perception of instant wealth there. It will have dance, theatre, music, videoscapes and will be in three languages. In March, the city that I plan to visit is celebrating Women's Day and we will be having Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi performances. We are also doing this huge performance of folk and tribal dances. We chose tribal dances because you see the partnering of men and women in that form more than in other forms of dance." Mallika has been recently chosen as one of the members of the Governing Board of Auroville and is quite excited about the Auroville experiment. "I accepted their offer because the place has amazing possibilities." About her tastefully designed clothes, she said, "I don't buy things. I usually find bits and pieces and design my own clothes. I love textures, crafts and the feel of hand crafted things." Food preferences? Mallika said that she loved south Indian vegetarian food, disliked Gujarati food, loved good filter coffee and Gujarati tea. Sipping a cup of coffee, she explained that a few years ago during a tour, the only things she carried with her were her infant son and a brass coffee percolator. "I used to enjoy the elaborate daily ritual of making coffee with the percolator. Coffee must be authentic `decoction kaapi', she said with a serious look on her face and a very south Indian accent.

Mallika said she dances whenever she has the time. "For the first 20 years I used to practise 4-5 hours a day. Now, I try to practise everyday but if that is not possible I do yoga, run, walk or go to the gym, whichever is possible. I try and stay fit all the time because as a dancer I have to take care of my body, she said.

DEEPA H. RAMAKRISHNAN

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