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(Exclusive) Sonal Mansingh debunks censorship debate, says she has been hounded for decades by ‘secular leaders’

Eminent classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, who is organising a three-day cultural festival Kalayaatra in the Capital, says culture has been left like an orphan in the country. By Karan Bhardwaj

Sonal Mansingh

Sonal Mansingh at her residence in New Delhi/BORN OF WEB ARCHIVES

While the debate over ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘censorship’ continues in India with many writers, painters and artists accusing the present government of creating an atmosphere of intimidation, classical danseuse Sonal Mansingh has called the entire discourse a piece of nonsense. In an exclusive interaction with, the Padma Vibhushan awardee recalled how she was hounded for decades by the communists and other political outfits for not confirming to their ideas. Point by point, she revealed how she and her musicians were ignored or rather harassed by the governments. “Just because their bluff has been called, they are are creating this nonsense of intimidation,” she said. Watch the exclusive video below:

The danseuse is organising a three-day festival Kalayaatra (April 30-May 2) to commemorate 40 years of her institute, Centre for Indian Classical Dances. She says it has been an uphil task to maintain the ‘private institute’ but her friends have been very helpful. “Forty years of a private institution in the field of culture is a big task. Education sector, in general, is flourishing because there’s a lot of money there, but culture is like an orphan these days,” she laments.

The 3-day festival will be a delight for dance enthusiasts. A couple of Mansingh’s early disciples (as early as 1977) are performing. “My first ever student is coming from the US. Another one, who joined me a little later, is coming from Seattle,” she says with pride. Penguin India is also releasing her memoir titled Sonal Mansingh: A Life like No Other, written by Sujata Prasad. “There’s also a dance drama Shiva Mahatmay, based on episodes from Shiva Purana. Then, we have bhavya Bharatnatyam performance. The festival will conclude with own solo dance theatre Panch-Kanyaa,” she informs.

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Sonal Mansingh

Sonal Mansingh at her residence in New Delhi/BORN OF WEB ARCHIVES

Though she has all praises for Narendra Modi-led government, Mansingh believes the culture has been sidelined. “I do think culture is on the periphery today. There is a priority on skills, poverty eradication and other basic schemes. My observation is that culture should be picked up simultaneously and not after accomplishing certain goals,” she suggests.

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