Born On: May 9, 1954
Born In: Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Career: Classical Dancer
Mallika Sarabhai is a multi-faceted woman who tries hard enough to par excellence in any field she steps into. With her fiery passion for dance, she has not only been able to woo the Indian audience but also mesmerized a global audience. Mallika is not only been successful as a dancer but has also contributed immensely in the field of classical dance, which has set her apart from other dancers. From an early life, she showed signs of her ability to excel far beyond the normal standard as an artist. Mallika is a trained classical dancer who never shies away from exploring her creative side. With her innovative ideas and a zest to take dancing to newer heights, classical dance has now a fresh outlook in bringing about societal changes. She is an iconic figure; her work being an inspiration to many. Truly, Mallika Sarabhai has become a role model for several young minds in the nation.
It would not be an exaggeration to state that Mallika was born in a family of creative geniuses; her father being a renowned space scientist and her mother a prominent classical dancer. Mrinalini Sarabhai and Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai were both legendary figures in their respective fields. However, Mallika never let her parents increasing success overshadow her personality, and managed to carve a unique identity for herself in the following years. True to her educational family background, she also underwent formal educational training alongside her dance classes. She graduated from Indian Institution of Management in Ahmedabad by doing her MBA in 1974 and obtained a doctorate in Organisational Behaviour from Gujarat University in 1976.
With dance being her first passion, Mallika started her career training as a classical dancer and gave several performances that won her many accolades at an early age. By the age of 15, Mallika was already an attractive face with poise and grace of a captivating young woman. It was then when she caught the attention of Peter Brook. In his mythological play 'The Mahabharata' he convinced her to take up the role of 'Draupadi'. Peter Brook played a pivotal role in her career, as it was him who gave her first break as an actor. The role transformed her from a dancer to a budding actor as she cites from memory that the she went from 'being a dancer to being a communicator'! "Living with Draupadi was a wonderful experience - being forced to find the essential and the fearless in me." She was applauded for her performance and the role encouraged her to bring new meaning to her work by portraying different shades of women. In 1989, her recital 'Shakti: The Power of Women' took her to greater heights, the theatrical performance is still one of her best pieces of work.
With consecutive success as an actor, Mallika soon started to claim several challenging roles that only proved her talent. It was through her work that she created awareness for the modern women to break-free from social evils. She never let age old societal protocol dominate her personal decision; Mallika was a strong woman with a firm mind. It was this very nature that at times even shocked her mother when Mallika started to see men and accepted a live-in-relationship. In the following years she was introduced to Bipin Shah while in college and soon married him, but unfortunately her marriage came to end after seven years. She has two children a son named Revanta and a daughter Anahita. Although her personal relationship with Bipin turned sour, they still continue to be good friends as Bipin and Mallika continue to run Mapin Publishing together that was started in 1984. Today, Mallika and her mother together actively manage the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts.
Theater is not only been her place to express her work but she has also explored many other ways to reach out to her audiences. She is a well known film maker, popular TV anchor, editor, publisher and a CEO of a TV channel. Over the years Mallika has managed to charm her audience with the list of her admirers growing with each new performance. The former US President Bill Clinton is also said to be enthralled by her talents and personally implored for her portrait. She has not only won the hearts of many people in India but also across many continents such as US, Europe, Asia, Australia and in many more places around the globe. All this would not have been possible if she had not pursued her passion for dance with the aim to spread awareness and bring about a change in society. Mallika Sarabhai started to extend her beliefs by supporting several causes and in a short span of time she was a noted social activist. By 2009, she entered into politics by filing her independent candidature. She also stood against the Bharat Janata Party and contested in the elections, but unfortunately lost to the BJP.
Awards & Honors
Best Dance Soloist, in Paris 1977
Chevalier des Palmes Academiques, French Government, 1999.
Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar, for Creative Dance 2000
Knight of the Order of Arts & Letters, French Government, 2002.
Woman of the Year, Indian Merchants' Chamber(IMC), 2003.
Kala Shiromani Purskar, Institute of Economic Studies, 2004.
Indian for Collective Actions Honour Award, 2004
Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, 2005
Theater Pasta Theater Awards 2007.
Crystal Award by World Economic Forum 2008
1954: Born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on May 9th.
1977: Won the best Dance Soloist Award.
1984: She co-founded Mapin Publishing with her husband, Bipin.
1989: Performed 'Shakti: The Power of Women' that won her many accolades.
1999: She was honored by the French government with Chevalier des Palmes Academiques.
2005: Mallika was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize Award.
2009: Entered into politics by filing as an independent candidature.