Kerala Cultural Controversy: Racist Remarks Ignite Fury

Racist remarks trigger massive outrage

Thiruvananthapuram: A major controversy has erupted in Kerala with noted classical dancer Kalamandalam Sathyabhama making a humiliating racist attack on an accomplished Dalit artiste R V L Ramakrishnan.

In an interview given on a YouTube channel, Sathyabhama stated that it was annoying to see men performing Mohiniyattam. "Ramakrishnan has the "colour of a crow."

“People who perform Mohiniyattam should have the attractive figure of a Mohini. This man (Ramakrishnan) has the colour of a crow. Mohiniyattam is an art form that has to be performed with one's feet apart. Nothing is as disgusting as to see a man performing Mohiniyattam with his legs crossed. In my opinion, if Mohiniyattam has to be performed by men, then they should be extremely good-looking. There are good-looking boys too. But this man (Ramakrishnan) performing Mohiniyttam will not be tolerated even by God or his mother," she said in the interview.

Sathyabhama made the highly derogatory remarks against Ramakrishnan who bagged the first rank in MA Mohiniyattam from M G University. He was the top scorer in MPhil in performing arts from Kerala Kalamandalam and completed his PhD in Mohiniyattam at the institute.

He has also cleared the NET exam of the UGC to become eligible to be an assistant professor. Besides being selected as an “A” grade artiste by Doordarshan Kendra, Ramakrishnan has served as a guest lecturer in the Department of Mohiniyattam at Kaladi Sanskrit University and RLV College for more than 15 years.

But these achievements are not enough for people like Sathyabhama to recognise Ramakrishnan as a dancer. “She doesn’t like people like us to stay in the field of Mohiniyattam and get a PhD in the dance form. Due to people like her, a Scheduled Caste artiste is not able to stand in the field of dance today,” Ramakrishnan said in a social media post.

Ramakrishnan, who is the younger brother of noted actor late Kalabhavan Mani, said he will bring such people with degenerated minds before the law.

In a statement Kerala Kalamandalam said; “Sathyabhama's statement is unacceptable in a civilised society. Adding Kalamandalam to the name of people like Sathyabhama is a blot on the institution itself. Sathyabhama has nothing to do with Kalamandalam other than being an alumnus of the institution.”

Kerala Kalamandalam founded in 1930, is the premiere public institution in the country for the preservation and promotion of Kerala's traditional performing arts.

Kerala Culture Minister Saji Cheriyan said Sathyabhama’s casteist slur against Ramakrishnan is an insult to the cultural ethos of Kerala.

While extending full support to Ramakrishnan, the minister demanded that Kalamandalam Sathyabhama should withdraw her statement and apologise to Ramakrishnan and people of Kerala.

DYFI state secretary V K Sanoj called upon the Kerala society to isolate and resist venomous people like Sathyabhama.

Sathyabhama sticks to her interview

Sathyabhama told reporters that she stood by her remarks made in the interview. "What I expressed as my opinion.”

When asked about the registration of cases for making casteist slur, Satyabhama said; ``the police and courts require evidence in cases of making casteist remarks. It matters only if the name of the person is mentioned. I have no remorse or regret in the statements I have made. I will respond to the issues related to my field of art," she added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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