Mallika Sarabhai

Mallika Sarabhai (M.BA, Ph.D)
Director, Darpana Academy
B.A. - Honours in Economics (1972) St.Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad
Master of Business Administration (1974)
Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
Ph.D (1976) Gujarat University Organisation Behaviour
“Psychological Maturity and the Power Motive: Dynamics and Development”
D.Lit (1998) University of East Anglia, Norwich For contribution to the arts.
  • Co-director Darpana Academy of Performing Arts,1977
  • Choreographer and Lead Soloist Darpana Performance Group,1980
  • President, CIOFF India (a UNESCO organisation for propagating folk dance), from 1982
  • Trustee, Sakshi (a centre opposing violence against women), from 1999
  • Board of Trustees, Travel and Lifestyle Consulting TLC, 2000
  • Trustee, Sarvodaya Trust ( for propagating Gandhian thought), 2001
  • Trustee, Citzens Vigilance Movement, 2000
  • Trustee, National Foundation for India, 2000
  • Trustee, Board of Schoolnet Trust, Mumbai. This is doing pioneering work in the field of computer assisted education, from 2000
  • President , Mahatma Gandhi International School, from 1998
  • Board Member, Delhi Public School, since 2001
  • Board Member, CEE (Centre for Environment Education)
  • Board Member, Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre
  • Member of the Governing Board of the Academy of Human Resourses Development, India
  • Past President, Alliance Francaise, Ahmedabad 1990-1998
  • Honarary Member the Academic Council, Nexgen School of Management and Technology, Kolkata (Teamed up with Troy State University, Alabama, USA), since 2003
  • Member, Board of Governors, SPRAT (Society for the Promotion of Rational Thinking
  • Member, Governing Board of Auroville Foundation,

Lead soloist since 1977 at the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts; specializes in Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi; also a contemporary dancer with the Darpana Performance Group; the Pan Project, London; the Battery Dance Company, New York; the National Dance Institute, New York . Has performed throughout India as well as Western Europe, North and South America, East and South East Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East. Has led her dance group to prestigious festivals at Sadlers Wells - Festival des Champs Elysees - Festivals of Perth, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, Egypt and to all major festivals held in India.
CHOREOGRAPHY – with year & location of premiere
  • The Mask: 2003, Florence, Italy
  • An Idea named Mira: , Los Angeles, with Daksha Mashruwala: commissioned by the Forum of World Religions
  • Tic Toc: , Beijing, as part of Indo-China Tour
  • The Journey Inward:Devi Mahatmya: 2001, Ahmedabad
  • Tillana – The Celebration: 2001, Singapore as part of Festival of India
  • Kaun: 2001, Singapore, as part of Festival of India
  • In Search of the Goddess: 2000, Washington, commissioned by The Smithsonian Institution
  • IK2 – the Myth of Myths: 1999, Ahmedabad
  • Ashwamedh:, 1999, Ahmedabad
  • The Conference of The Birds: 1998, Ahmedabad
  • Cityscapes: 1998, Ahmedabad
  • The Leopard: 1998, Ahmedabad
  • Silappadikaram: 1997, Ahmedabad
  • Krishna: The Musical: 1997, Ahmedabad
  • Yatra Gurjar: 1996, Ahmedabad
  • V for …...: 1996, Ahmedabad
  • The Story of Champaner: 1995, Champaner – commissioned by The Gujarat Historical Society
  • Songs of Tagore: 1995, New York, with Jonathan Hollander, for Battery Dance Company
  • Ritual Fragments: 1995, Perth – commissioned by Festival of Perth
  • Ceremony I: 1995, Perth – commissioned by Festival of Perth
  • Worlds Within & Without:1995, Perth – commissioned by Festival of Perth
  • Transposed Heads: 1993, Ahmedabad
  • Changing Planes: 1993, London
  • Jazz Tillana: 1993, Perth as part of Indian Summit for Festival of Perth
  • Mean Streets on Earth: 1993, Perth as part of Indian Summit for Festival of Pert
  • Thattakazhi: 1993, Perth as part of Indian Summit for Festival of Perth
  • Structures: 1992, Ahmedabad
  • Shakuntala: 1992, Ahmedabad
  • Germinations: 1991, Ahmedabad
  • Mother’s Daughters and Other Women: 1991, Nottingham
  • Itan Kahani: 1991, London
  • Sita’s Daughters: 1990, Ahmedabad
  • Shakti: The Power of Women: 1989, London

Patra Mitro – Lead role in Gujarati play

An Idea Named Mira
Mira represents many things to many people. The adoption of her songs across all strata of society in India indicates that what she represents finds resonance with everyone. Was she a person or a myth? An idea or a dream?

In this multimedia work Mallika Sarabhai explores through dance, music, theater and video imagery what makes Mira relevant today. Written & directed by Mallika Sarabhai, co-choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai & Daksha Mashruwala, projection design by Yadavan Chandran. Commissioned by the Forum of World Religions, Los Angeles

The Journey Inward: Devi Mahatmya

A multi dimensional performance based on Suzanne Ironbiter’s epic poem Devi (the Goddess) was conceived, directed & choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai with music by Indian rock composers Mark and Philipe Haydon; set & costume design by Australian Jodie Fried and projection design by Yadavan Chandran.

“Devi breaks boundaries between dance, sculpture and ritual; a beautiful and inspiring journey of the soul”….. the Indian Express, January

“Her work theory is to indulge with the group members in long discussions " to give them a philosophical feel of the subject." Also, a lateral training for dancers in at least one discipline other than their own is preferred. Combining mythological themes with contemporary theater techniques is an other example of the maturity” … The Pioneer

“Woman of myriad avatars: The most potent sequences of the evening, which linger in the mind's eye, were those inherently visual. Such as the goddess donning her vermilion-red vestments, her radiance multiplied by both her human and stage accessories. Such as the Mahishasuramardini sequence, which drew the audience into its embrace with vivid theatrical devices. Such as the final dramatic flower formation, " Kalam maaikkal", reminiscent of Kerala temples, erased by a flurry of movement, as if invoking a ritual trance. And a few others” The Hindu

“Devi reveals herself in her creative and destructive aspects, is a consort of Shiva being the changing, female aspect against Shiva who's an unchanging, masculine aspect of divinity. A few minutes into the performance and one realizes the varying moods and music that complement the images of aggression that well expose the force of Devi's wisdom” Indian Express

“The Journey Inward, seeks to propitiate and seek the benign grace of the elements and have the energy within (" Draw yourself out of this body") to be in tune with them so that it realizes the twin powers of destruction and creation” The Times of India

“Mallika's energetic movement covering all available space, her delightful group formations, occasional use of the space across footlights, projection of visually grand rituals, scenes of combat with Mahishashur and her recorded recital of the poem lend character to the work” The Times of India

In Search of the Goddess
The Mother Goddess has always had a central role in Hindu mythology and belief. In a philosophy which accepts the primary being as “Ardhanarishwara”, a being half female-half male, Devi or Shakti is the primal kinetic energy without whom the male remains passive and immobile.

In this work Mallika Sarabhai explores the perception of Shakti through classical dance, theater, storytelling and mime. Taking some traditional works from the repertoire of Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi, she juxtaposes these with her own contemporary interpretations of the Mother Goddess. Written, directed and choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai. Commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution, USA

“Ms. Magic feet Mallika Sarabhai was the highlight of the inaugural cultural evening of the Osho Foundation. What bound together a jam packed hall of men and women was the messages she conveyed through her works, gestures and Bharatnatyam mudras that women have a life and space of their own”.- The HT City, New Delhi

“When the eminent danseuse, Mallika Sarabhai danced “ In Search of Devi” she was not merely exhibiting her talent. She was presenting a message of empowering women, drawing heavily from the message of the Mahabharata and mythology. – The Statesman, In a man’s world, Mallika sets out in Search of Devi” – Newsline, USA

“M’s the Word - Mahabharata, Mythology and Mallika. The three were well enmeshed at the inaugural cultural event of the Osho World foundation, where the danseuse presented her dance recital, In Search of Devi, Mallika Sarabhai believes in the empowerment of women in this male-dominated society and that is what came through in her long performance” – Times of India, New Delhi. 

IK2- The Myth of Myths -
a collaborative project between Darpana Performance Group and Pan Project, London. Performers Mallika Sarabhai (India) and Peter Badejo (Nigeria) explore and celebrates the myths of India, West Africa, Europe and other lands, examining how through those myths people have searched for meaning in their lives, in their gods of the seasons or their gods against bad luck. Scripted & directed by John Martin, choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai.

Conference of the birds a 12th century Sufi tale by Farid Ud-Din Attar, a parable of the human race’s search for truth, for life’s meaning and for the self. Adapted by John Martin, co-directed by Mallika Sarabhai & John Martin, choreographed by Mrinalini Sarabhai.

Cityscapes - a look at stories and storytelling in an urban TV age. Co-written by Symon Macintyre & Mallika Sarabhai, directed by Symon Macintyre, choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai


V for... – This show tackles one of the most burning issues in India and throughout the world - the spread of violence. Using case histories, video images, quotations from violators and peacemakers, the performer invites the viewer to examine the violence within ourselves and how we deal with it. Co-written by Mallika Sarabhai & John Martin, directed by John Martin, choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai.


Kaliyug: - The Circle of Paradise - Kaliyug explores the corruption of values in this age. Produced by Pan Project, London which commissioned Suniti Namjoshi to write the script. National UK tour, May - June 1993.


Itan Kahani: The Story of Stories- The first ever collaboration between an Indian classical dancer and a Nigerian dancer, exploring the hidden agenda of folk stories. National UK tours in 1991 and 1992; at the Gulbenkien Foundation, Lisbon, 1992; an Indian tour, 1992; a West African tour 1993 and 1995. Produced by Pan Project, London. Scripted & directed by John Martin, choreography by Mallika Sarabhai.


Sita’s Daughters: - A performance piece on women’s issues, performed in Hindi, Gujarati or English, developed with women activists, talking of issues like rape and female foeticides and the deification of women.

The solo performance uses dance, music, story-telling, masks and mime and has been
performed more than 300 times throughout India, UK, the US, Singapore and Africa. Co-written by Mallika Sarabhai & John Martin, directed by John Martin, choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai

Shakti - The Power of Women: - a work on the image of Indian women. Through a fusion of dance, drama, mime, music and narrative, this performance penetrates the real feelings of heroines and legends created by men for their own purposes. Co-written by Mallika Sarabhai & John Martin, directed by John Martin, choreography by Mallika Sarabhai. Tour of Great Britain in 1989 and 1991 and a British Council tour of India in 1990.


Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata: directed by Peter Brook. Created the female lead Draupadi, in both the French and English versions. Performed worldwide: at the Avignon Festival (France); Brooklyn Academy of Music (New York); Raleigh Studios (Los Angeles); Ginza Saison (Tokyo); Tramway (Glasgow), and as part of the Perth and Adelaide Festivals, Australia.

  • Virasat School Quiz: Inter-School Children’s Quiz related to India’s influence on the World and World’s influence on India in the context of archeology, architecture, clothes, dance, music, food, sports and literature. Quiz Master, DD11, 2003
  • Umber Chat Show: The Threshold. A programme about issues that face by adolescents. The format veers between street interviews of adolescents, their teachers and parents, and a dramatized story of a particular problem. Like eve teasing, puberty, changes in physique and biology. Anchor, DD11 2003
  • Vaividhyotsav: 5 days a week programming on DD 11 on celebrating diversity.
    Anchor, from July 14th, 2003.
  • Aapni Bapor: Daily one hour women’s empowerment episode on DD 11 from
    Oct 7, . Anchor, Producer.
  • Talk Positive: Anchor, Doordashan & Zee TV, 2001 (1st talkshow on AIDS & HIV in India, sponsored by National AIDS Council – 13 part series)
  • Chief Executive Officer: ‘TARA’, Gujarati TV Channel, 2000-
  • Storyteller: Anchor, Director, Writer, Suvik Communications, STAR TV 98-99
  • Show Reel:, Anchor, STAR TV, 1997-98
  • Plus Preview: Anchor, STAR TV, 1997 – 1999
  • Arts Update: (1st Arts News Programme in India) Producer, Director, Anchor, Suvik Communications, STAR TV, 1997-98
  • Kaleidoscope: (Arts Magazine Programme) Anchor, Cinema Vision India, 1996 - 1999.
  • On Air With Mallika: (Anchor and Host), TV India, 1995-96
  • Eye Witness Chat Show:, Interviewer and Anchor, HTV (Hindustan Times Vision), 1995-1996
  • Speakeasy with Mallika: Interviewer & Anchor, Doordarshan, 1995-96
  • Turning Point (Science Programme) Anchor, Doordarshan, 1992-94
  • EKTA - A theater production with 14 street children, on non-violence, performed in India and in the US. ()
  • Asopalav - A series of 30 music videos on development themes for the Ministry of Education, Government of India. (2001-)
  • Rangmanch - Weekly drama program on TARA (2000-2001)
  • Storyteller - Weekly serial for children on STAR TV (1998 -1999)
  • Films for local government bodies on health education (1990)
  • Films for Ministry of Environment on different classical environment themes using dance and puppetry: Ganga, Hamsini, Karkasha, Aspirations, Meghadoota, Revelation.(1986-88)
  • Series of educational films using traditional performance techniques for the Ministry of Education, Government of India, 1986.
FILMS – 30 films including
  • Dany () in Malyalam
  • Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata (1989) in English
  • Kahkasha, (1986) in Hindi
  • A Thousand Flowers (1982) in English & French
  • Katha (1982) in Hindi
  • Amma (1980) in Hindi
  • Sheesha (1980) in Hindi
  • Ajwaali Raat Amaasni (1980) in Gujarati
  • Mena Gurjari (1976) in Gujarati
  • Himalay Se Ooncha (1974) in Hindi
  • Kalankini (1973) in Hindi
  • Mutthi Bhar Chawal (1972) in Hindi
  • Sonal (1972) in Hindi
  • Editor, Spectacular India, Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 1999
  • Editor, Jute Handlooms of India, Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd, 1999
  • Editor, Sufism and Beyond, Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd, 1999
  • Editor, Romance of Golconda Diamonds, Mapin Publishing Pvt Ltd, 1999
  • Editor, From Mustard Fields to Disco Lights, Mapin Publishing Pvt Ltd, 1999
  • Editor, Parvati: Goddess of Love, Mapin Publishing Pvt Ltd, 1998 – 1999
  • Editor, Documenting Chandigarh Vol I, Mapin Publishing Pvt Ltd, 1999
  • Editor, Image & Imagination:5 Indian Artists, Mapin Publishing Pvt Ltd 1995
  • Editor, Performing Arts of Kerala, Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 1995.
  • Co-Author, Understanding Kuchipudi, 1992.
  • Editor, Krishna as Shrinathji: Miniature Paintings from Nathdwara, Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd, 1989.
  • Editor, Bhavai and its Typical Aharya, Monograph, 1982.
  • Editor, Shadow Puppets of India, Monograph, 1982.
  • Seeing beyond the mask: a weekly column in Gujarati in Gujarat Mitra
  • Currently writing two books: The Feminist Movement in India, and Strong Women, Enduring Legacies, ( a history of the women in her family)
  • Script for dance-theater production, An Idea Named Mira
  • Scripts for weekly TV series Storyteller, India’s only indigenously produced TV serial for children, to make children aware of India’s multicultural heritage, 52 episodes.
  • View from the Bridge, a weekly column for The Times of India, May 1998 to February 2000. This column dealt with issues of law and order, human rights, empowerment, caste politics, corruption, human initiatives, NGO activities and other social issues.
  • Regular articles for Indian national press & magazines
  • Co-writer of stage scripts for In Search of the Goddess, Cityscapes, IK2, V For…, Sita’s Daughters, Shakti-the Power of Women.
Today’s “cultural heritage” is definitely the product of a tradition of assimilation of the civilizations and their thoughts, moves, activities, appreciation, through centuries of cooperation, co-existence and mutual respect. Our aim is to use arts as a medium and convey the importance of communal harmony. Performances and workshops in 50 schools, 50 colleges and 20 communities.

Darpana for Development and Darpana Communications are embarking upon a year-long project to explore and communicate to the people of Gujarat the richness and the historic validity of our multicultural, multi-linguistic and pluralistic reality. Darpana Communications will be devising and producing a one hour TV Programme which will run five days a week on Doordarshan 11, from July 14th.

Aapni Bapor is a one-hour programme, produced by Darpana Communications which is in broadcast in the afternoon on DD 11.These are developmental programmes for women. These programs are made interactive, informative and entertaining. The slot has a gameshow, cookery show, career counseling, programmes based on real life stories, life styles, problems faced by famous women and a daily vox pop.

JAGRUTI - A School Project for Environment Empowerment (1994-1996)
  • To make children aware of the basic issues degrading our environment.
  • To facilitate children’s learning using innovative approaches and activities and enabling them to take action in schools and at home.
  • To enhance children’s capabilities to initiate campaigns in school and at home using innovative media to create a domino effect.
  • To indirectly enhance the capabilities of teacher’s to adopt participative methods to teach children other subjects. Project Area: 10,000 poor children from Ahmedabad Municipal Council schools

This project aimed at making children aware of the role prejudice plays in society and in getting them to think of alternative ways of looking at “truth”. Through different story telling techniques the three main issues dealt with were the three root causes of violence in our society: gender bias, communal hatred and religious intolerance.

The format was a series of stories which reflected or questioned a variety of gender and race biases; that raised awareness, allowed the children to comment, question, formulate their own opinions; taught them to relate the stories to everyday life and to think about the “givens” in society.

PARIVARTAN (1995-2001)
Social Change & Awareness Amongst Adivasi Women in Banaskantha District of Gujarat Through Arts Communication. A project to bring about change in the conditions that face the Bhils, especially Bhil women in Banaskantha. An extended and intensive programme of education aimed at attitude change.

The project involved creating a repertory company with 10 Bhils, exploring the roots of social problems with them, training them to be actor activists, and reintroducing them into their own society through a series of performance based social interventions undertaken over a three year period in 60 tribal villages in Banaskantha and Khedbrama

The UNESCO Heritage Project (1998)
To show and propagate values of non-violence, truth and honestly as a living heritage of Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts in today’s political and social life through performing arts.

UNICEF Rural Health Project
To propagate awareness and knowledge regarding health issues, specifically maternal mortality and low birth weight, infant mortality and health and child labour, undertaken in 40 villages.

AIDS Awareness Programme (- till date)
To raise awareness regarding spread, prevention and social impact of AIDS amongst tribal populations in villages through specially created performances.

The Centre, housed at the Academy in Ahmedabad, provides facilities for artists from all fields of literature, the performing and visual arts, to come together and share thoughts and ideas about non-violence with an aim to encourage artistic creation to spread new light on the issue. At the Centre artists come together in workshops and interact. Others are given fellowships to come and work and create at the Centre. Yet others are given the facilities to write and be published.

The authentic Indian folk dance group for folk revival, 1982.
  • Indian for Collective Actions Honor Award 2004 in recognition of her selfless service to India, the Arts, Education and Communal Harmony.”
  • “Woman of the Year 2003” by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC) Ladies Wing. Conferred April 2004.
  • “Kala Shiromani Purskar” 2004 by Institute of Economic Studies, New Delhi,
  • Rotary International District 3010 Vocational Award for Excellence- Dignified adherence to high ethical standards in Vocation and service to society at The Dream Conference 2003-2004.
  • A PAUL HARRIS FELLOW, in appreciation of her tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among the peoples of the world by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, New Delhi, 2004
  • Rotary Vocational Excellence Award 2003, by Rotary Club Mumbai, 2003
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Creative Dance, 2001
  • Chevalier des Palmes Academiques, French Government, 1999
  • Ojaswini Woman of the Year ’98 award by Ojaswini, Bhopal
  • The Film Development Corporation of Gujarat’s Award for the Unique Contribution to Gujarati Cinema, Gandhinagar, 1997.
  • Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa (Litt.D) by the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, 1997.
  • FIE Foundation, Ichlkaranji (Maharashtra State) Award for Outstanding Contribution to the cause of Indian Classical Dance, 1996.
  • Gaurav Puraskar, for Contribution to the Arts, Govt. of Gujarat, 1992.
  • Gold Medal - CIOFF Dijon, for leading the best folk dance group, 1984.
  • Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, Sheesha, 1984.
  • Film Club Award for Best Supporting Actress, Katha, 1983.
  • Golden Star Award - Best Dance Soloist, Theater De Champs Elysees, Paris 1977.
  • Best Film Actress Award, Mena Gurjari, 1975, Govt.of Gujarat.
  • Film Critics Award for Best Actress, Muthi Bhar Chawal, 1974.
  • Member of Citizen’s Commission for National Issues.
  • Member, Management Committee, Delhi Public Schoo1, Ahmedabad
  • Member, Advisory Board of National AIDS Control Organisation and International AIDS Vaccine Initiative ( IAVI )
  • Member, Indo- China Society, Gujarat
  • Founder member, Transparency International, India (Gujarat Chapter). This is a non-profit, non-governmental organization to counter corruption both in international business transactions and through National Chapters, at national levels.
  • Member, Board, World Wilderness Trust, Bangalore
  • Member, Governing Board, Academy of Human Resources Development
  • Member, South Asians for Human Rights, New Delhi. Democratic regional body with a large membership base of people committed to addressing human rights issues of both national and regional levels.
  • Member, Global Network for Bharatanatyam, Chennai. Non-formal association of Bharatanatyam exponents convened for a specific purpose.
  • Recipient of exchange fellow - Asian Cultural Council, New York, USA Fellowship. To interact with artists working in the fields of Arts & Technology and Arts and Community Development,
  • Pride of India, on her work and life, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India,
  • Mallika Sarabhai. A biographical documentary for the Films Division, by Aruna Raje, winner of the Best Documentary Film, 2001, Government of India
  • Fatal Reaction, a film by Marijke Jongbloed, Dutch Director, Lagestee Film 1996
  • “Face to Face”, BBC, 2003
  • “Good Morning India”, Star Plus 2000
  • “BBC Style”, BBC,
  • “Movers and Shakers”, Sony 2000
  • “Star Talk”, Star Plus, 1999
  • “Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi”, ZEE TV 1996
  • “Nikki To night”, Star TV, 1995
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