A Kerala-based performer of the Mohiniyattam, Neena Prasad, has shared a detailed account of how her show was stopped midway on Saturday following complaint by a local district judge.
Prasad says her crew was in tears when police drove them off the stage as they had prepared hard for it and had all the required permissions for the show.
Prasad shared the account two days ago. Her post says that her performance was scheduled at 8:30 pm on Saturday in the state-run Moyan lower primary School in Palakkad town. Minutes after it began, the police arrived asking the crew to stop, saying they were acting as per the orders of the district judge, Kalam Pasha.
The judge reportedly stays near the school and told the police that the “noise” was a nuisance for him.
The performance, titled ‘Sakhyam’, was a portrayal of strains between Krishna and Arjuna. It was scheduled for an hour. It was part of a cultural event organised by an organisation named Sekharipuram Grandhasala to release a book titled Ithihasangale Thedi authored by Sreechitran MJ.
This is the full post shared by Prasad (as translated by Google from Malayalam, and edited for clarity):
“Yesterday as an artist, I had an experience that I have never had before in my life. There was an invitation to present a short Mohiniyattam concert in a cultural program related to a book release at Palakkad Moin LP School. The organizers in panic told us that the concert that started at 8 o'clock could not be continued because the police informed that they could no longer perform it.
“My group consists of musical artists living outside in many parts of Kerala. Professional dancers are those who prepare for the event with great desire and enthusiasm for the event after practising for days and watching rehearsals for them. When district judge (Kalam Pasha , brother of retd judge Kamal Pasha) tells us that the program "sound is disturbing" and that the programme should be stopped immediately, you can only see the disrespect for cultural art work that carries storytelling and for dance as serious work.
“This was an extremely insulting experience. This is the first time that all artists including me have had such an experience. Despite the organizers having obtained permissions until 9.30 pm, the announcement that the district judge had ordered to suspend the art show a few minutes after it starting at 8 o'clock, was very sad. This post is because I think it is extremely appropriate to record my protest as a woman and as an artist.
“Another thing, the condition of artists for more than 2 years is very pathetic. Corona has dealt a heavy blow to the number of artists who are leading their lives and their families through full-time artwork. It is from the verge of suicide that artists have slowly got up and started walking. How can we continue the works of art that have been going on for so many years in India, which has given importance to stylish, traditional arts and culture? We are being sent abroad as cultural spokesmen of India on the basis of our excellence in the same arts.
“I have learned that the job they do should be protected along with the duties of a society that includes justice and law enforcement. Should artists conduct art shows considering such unfair and unlawful personal likes? Or is it that even cultural activities should be done according to the personal interests, likes and orders of judges and officials?
“One should be able to see and embrace the life and workplace of an artist in a decent manner”
English daily The Hindu has reported that several cultural groups such as the Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sangham have protested against the incident.
Secretary of Swaralaya group, TR Ajayan, has been quoted as saying, “We never expected such an unfortunate behaviour from a judge. It is nothing but high-handedness of power. Look at the broken roads in Palakkad. He should have made a positive intervention there.”
The Hindu report says this was not the first time that Justice Pasha has interfered with events held at the school compound. However, the report cited no incident.
The judge has raised controversy in the past as well when he allegedly gave his wife instant talaq in 2018. His brother Kamal Pasha is also a judge.
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