Kerala High Court denies anticipatory bail to Mohiniyattam dancer Sathyabhama in caste abuse case

The matter pertains to a case registered against her for her casteist remarks during a purported interview to a YouTube channel against fellow artist Dr RLV Ramakrishnan.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 11, 2024 | 12:17 AMUpdatedJun 11, 2024 | 4:26 AM

Dancer Sathyabhama gets bail in caste abuse case

The Kerala High Court on Monday, 10 June, declined to grant anticipatory bail to Mohiniyattam dancer Kalamandalam Sathyabhama in connection with a caste abuse case.

Justice K Babu disposed of her bail application with directions to appear before the special SC/ST court in Thiruvananthapuram. He also asked the court to consider the matter on the same day.

The matter pertains to a case registered against Sathyabhama following a complaint by noted Mohiniyattam artiste Dr RLV Ramakrishnan alleging that her racist remarks during a purported interview to a YouTube channel, were directed at him.

As her remarks created an uproar in Kerala society, Sathyabhama dismissed Ramakrishnan’s allegations, saying she did not name anyone in the interview.

The Kerala State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) had on 22 March, initiated a case against Satyabhama over her controversial remarks.  The Cantonment police in Thiruvananthapuram also registered a case against her on 30 March following a complaint by Ramakrishnan.

Also Read: Racism row: Kerala police book dancer Sathyabhama under SC/ST Act

The controversy

During the purported interview, Sathyabhama had said, “The person who performs Mohiniyattam should be ‘mohini’ (enchanting).”

“He has the colour of a crow. This is an art form that requires a stance that keeps the legs wide apart. There is nothing more repulsive than a man who performs with his legs wide apart in this manner.

“In my opinion, men should perform Mohiniyattam only if they are that good looking… But his looks are unbearable,” the 66-year-old dancer was heard saying in the interview, which was telecast by news channels.

Sathyabhama did not specify who she was referring to. The video, which went viral, was severely criticised by many on social media, cutting across political lines.

However, she vehemently defended what she said during the interview and added that she had not taken any names in the interview.

“I have not taken any names in the interview. What I have said in the interview is my opinion, and I stand by that. I don’t have any regrets,” she said. She even criticised the media for creating an issue out of the incident.

Also Read: Kerala Kalamandalam condemns racist remarks by Sathyabhama against fellow artiste

Ramakrishnan alleges racist abuse

In a Facebook post, Ramakrishnan, who is the brother of Malayalam actor late Kalabhavan Mani, said Sathyabhama was continuing her racist abuse against him alleging that he was not qualified to teach Mohiniyattam.

“I completed my studies at the renowned RLV college in Tripunithura. I am a first-rank holder in MA Mohiniyattam from MG University. I am a top scorer in MPhil and completed a PhD from Kalamandalam. This is not the first time I have faced insults from her,” Ramakrishnan said.

He said that due to such people, it is difficult for a person from a scheduled caste to survive in the field of classical dance. He had also said that he would take legal action against Satyabhama.

The Kerala Kalamandalam, a premier public institution that preserves the state’s artistic heritage, had condemned Sathyabhama’s remarks, and opened up its doors to students of all genders, besides inviting Ramakrishnan for a Mohiniyattam recital.

Also Read: What Kalamandalam Sathyabhama said is wrong, says Fahadh Faasil

Outcry over the remarks

Kerala Ministers Saji Cheriyan, R Bindu, and Veena George, Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly VD Satheesan, and BJP state chief K Surendran, among others, had condemned her remarks.

Expressing solidarity with Ramakrishnan, Leader of Opposition Satheesan said, “Art is important, not colour. Art is the union of humility and compassion. Art and culture die when one is insulted on the basis of colour and caste.”

Sreekumaran Thampi — a renowned Indian lyricist, music director, director, producer, and screenwriter in Malayalam cinema — said that she was not eligible to carry the moniker ‘Kalamandalam Satyabhama’ which was a well-respected name.

The actual Kalamandalam Satyabhama was an Indian classical dancer, teacher and choreographer, known for her performances and scholarship in Mohiniyattam. She died in September 2015 at the age of 77.

“Kalamandalam Satyabhama was one of the biggest gurus of Mohiniyattam seen in Kerala. She (Kalamandalam Satyabhama junior) was a student under the actual Kalamandalam Satyabhama. This lady should not have taken that name,” Thampi told a news channel.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj, with PTI inputs)