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no awards or grants were given to me. After the Indira Gandhi government it was the Rajiv Gandhi government so the ban on me continued No accommodation was ever allotted for me” says Mansingh whose house in Defence Colony is rented She adds how Mani Shankar Aiyyar who was friends with her— “still is and was Rajiv’s man Friday”— recommended her name for the Rajya Sabha “But Rajiv would tell him that I am against his mother ‘How can I put her in the Rajya Sabha’” says Mansingh It was when she accepted an invite extended by Vishwa Hindu Parishad to perform in Washington to mark the 100th anniversary of Swami Vivekanand’s Chicago address along with Kishore Kumar Anuradha Paudwal and Anup Jalota in 1993 that matters came to a head She says she was “summoned” to Delhi’s Mavlankar Hall where fellow members of “Artists Against Communalism”—Kuldip Nayar Shabana Azmi and members of Sahmat among others — questioned her “I told them that as long as no one was dictating the content of my performance I didn’t care who invited me I went and danced in the US They said saffron hai I said call me what you want” she says Moving around in the corridors of power wasn’t new for Mansingh Having grown up in a Gujarati home with Mangal Das Pakvasa a freedom fighter and one of the first five governors of shlf1314 as her grandfather Mansingh found easy access to many politicians and legendary artistes and imbibed a lot from their constant presence in her life “They say she has political connections What they don’t realise is that I knew people like Vasant Sathe NKP Salve George Fernandes and Anant Kumar Hegde initially because of my family and my grandfather and then because of dance I grew up in this mahaul It never seemed unnatural to me Painters journalists politicians and artistes would come home and we’d talk Such interactions don’t happen anymore Those were brilliant times” says Mansingh who grew up watching legends and family friends such as MS Subbulakshmi and Rukmini Devi Arundale perform in her living room “Darbar Hall in Raj Bhawan was always teeming with artistes and it was naturally a learning process” says Mansingh who began learning Manipuri at four and Bharatanatyam at seven But even after training for years and a hugely successful aarangetram at 18 a career in dance was opposed by her family “So I ran away” says Mansingh with a throaty laugh She went to Bangalore and began learning from US Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi She later learnt abhinaya from the famed Mylapore Gowri Ammal “A lot of people call it a bold step this running away business I just took a bus to Victoria Terminus and then changed two trains” says Mansingh It was after her marriage to bureaucrat Lalit Mansingh that her then father-in-law introduced her to Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Odissi became an integral element of Mansingh’s life But life took a turn after her divorce in 1973 and her decision to not accept alimony In her recent biography Sonal Mansingh: A Life Like No Other (Penguin Viking) author Sujata Prasad writes “She remembers taking overdrafts from her bank selling off gold bangles gifted by her mother and borrowing money from well-wishers like OP Jain and AJ Jaspal to pay her musicians” Dance she says is what kept her going “The government offered no support I wrote letters to everyone even to PM Manmohan Singh but didn’t get anything” says Mansingh In 1972 she met Georg Lackner director of Goethe-Institut at Max Mueller Bhawan in New Delhi for the first time On her subsequent trips to Europe the two spent a lot of time together gorging on pretzels and exploring various dance opportunities for her Lackner helped organise many performances for Mansingh She was in love and was happy that she wasn’t being judged like she was in shlf1314 “I’m so happy and fulfilled with Georg that sometimes I don’t wish to think about the difficulties I face in Delhi” Mansingh had written to her friend Kumkum According to Mansingh’s biography as soon as Indira Gandhi learnt of the relationship Lackner was transferred to Goethe-Institut Montreal “It wasn’t a bad deal in retrospect I had a terrible car accident around the same time And because Georg was in Canada I got treated there and was able to dance again It all worked out” says Mansingh who always missed shlf1314 and eventually decided to return Upon her return she threw herself deep into her work which resulted in stellar productions such as Draupadi (1994) Indradhanush (1999) Geeta Govind (1987) and Ashta Nayika (1980) among others When she became the chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2004 on the recommendation of the then NDA government there was discontent Sixty artistes signed a letter of protest and sent it to former President APJ Abdul Kalam While there were talks of Mansingh’s dictatorial behaviour there were many resignations including that of Carnatic legend M Balamuralikrishna vocalist Ajoy Chakraborty and Bombay Jayshree among others Bhupen Hazarika wrote to the president saying that Mansingh played “a cruel and manipulative game” in ousting him Mansingh says “While the insiders didn’t like that I followed rules the artistes had their own agenda You cannot please everyone” She was called to Rashtrapati Bhawan for a final conversation with Kalam “He told me ‘Sonalji you are more than just a capable administrator But this is the third time the file has come to me and I don’t have a choice but to sign it’ But even in that process he cut the word ‘removed’ and wrote ‘replaced’ on top I was teary-eyed I’ll never forget the grace he accorded to an artiste” says Mansingh In tough times Mansingh has always turned to her work The past few years haven’t been any different In the last decade she has produced Intezaar (2005) Ujjawal Asha (2009) and Pancha Kanya (2017) Currently she is busy polishing the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan choreographies and working on two more productions “I won’t discuss those Come and watch when they are done” she says Where the Rhythm Takes You Sonal Mansingh belongs to a generation of immensely talented and eloquent female dancers from the post-Independence era who were exceptional when it came to their art form who represented shlf1314 globally and were seen as much in power coteries as they were in famed social soirees and in the thick of controversies A Sanskrit scholar a graduate in German literature with a working knowledge of every shlf1314n classical dance form one of Mansingh’s greatest contributions to classical dance is perhaps getting north shlf1314n texts included into a more Telugu and Tamil centric repertoire of Bharatanatyam —a form that north shlf1314 found very hard to understand about five decades ago Culture historian Sunil Kothari who has seen Mansingh evolve from the ’60s calls her a fine dancer “She came under the spotlight alongside dancers like Yamini Krishnamurthy Her technique the execution on stage was all in place Her brilliance was also in the way she understood rhythm and moved with it The lines the form the technique — they were all there and led Mansingh to the pinnacle” says Kothari But in the last few years critics have also raised questions over her performances? and lawsuits in Germany, we realised this galaxy had to be more than meets the eye. she added. the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Round-Up weed killer and similar products. PAFF initially proposed a 15-year renewal, ran "papers" favorable to the companies’ products. again, “As the finale designer I wish to create something extravagant,301 members voted in favour of the Constitution Amendment Bill and none against it.

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