Caste Abuse Case: Kerala HC Denies Anticipatory Bail to Mohiniyattam Dancer Sathyabhama

Caste Abuse Case

The Kerala High Court has refused to grant anticipatory bail to Mohiniyattam dancer Kalamandalam Sathyabhama in connection with a caste abuse case.

A single bench of Justice K Babu disposed of her bail application, directing her to appear before the special SC/ST court in Thiruvananthapuram.

The case against Sathyabhama arose from a complaint by noted Mohiniyattam artiste Dr. RLV Ramakrishnan, who alleged that her racist remarks during an interview with a YouTube channel were directed at him. As her remarks caused an uproar in Kerala society, Sathyabhama dismissed Ramakrishnan’s allegations, stating she did not name anyone in the interview.

On March 22, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) initiated a case against Sathyabhama over her controversial remarks. Subsequently, the Cantonment police in Thiruvananthapuram registered a case against her on March 30 following Ramakrishnan’s complaint.

Controversial Remarks

During the interview, Sathyabhama stated, “The person who performs Mohiniyattam should be ‘mohini’ (enchanting). He has the color 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,” she said. Although she did not specify who she was referring to, the video went viral and was severely criticized on social media, across political lines.

Sathyabhama defended her comments, adding that she had not mentioned any names. “What I have said in the interview is my opinion, and I stand by that. I don’t have any regrets,” she asserted, also criticizing the media for creating an issue out of the incident.

In a Facebook post, Ramakrishnan, brother of the late Malayalam actor Kalabhavan Mani, said Sathyabhama continued her racist abuse against him, alleging he was unqualified 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 stated. He emphasized that it is difficult for a person from a scheduled caste to survive in the field of classical dance due to people like her and announced his intention to take legal action.

Public and Institutional Reactions

The Kerala Kalamandalam, a premier public institution preserving the state’s artistic heritage, condemned Sathyabhama’s remarks and opened its doors to students of all genders, inviting Ramakrishnan for a Mohiniyattam recital. Several Kerala ministers, including Saji Cheriyan, R Bindu, and Veena George, as well as Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly VD Satheesan and BJP state chief K Surendran, among others, condemned her remarks.

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

Sreekumaran Thampi, a renowned Indian lyricist, music director, director, producer, and screenwriter in Malayalam cinema, stated that she was not eligible to carry the moniker ‘Kalamandalam Sathyabhama,’ a well-respected name. The original Kalamandalam Sathyabhama, an Indian classical dancer, teacher, and choreographer known for her performances and scholarship in Mohiniyattam, died in September 2015 at the age of 77. Thampi emphasized that the current Sathyabhama was a student of the original and should not have adopted that name.

Read More: Supreme CourtDelhi High CourtStates High CourtOther Courts, International

Recommended For You

About the Author: Nunnem Gangte