Art takes an especially beautiful shape when it is used to subvert religious fanaticism. And that is exactly what a 27-year-old Kathak dancer, Avni Sethi, did in Ahmedabad. In the heart of the city, a few walls have been painted with graffiti that reads (in Gujarati): ‘Hindu daughters beware of love jihad.’
Sethi took to the streets of Ahmedabad to protest this, with dance performances to the cult song Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya from the iconic film Mughal-e-Azam.
The video (above) of one of her performances was captured outside a college by Yogesh Chawda. She spins and swirls, in graceful defiance, while a scattered crowd watches on. She said in an interview: “Earlier I had performed in street plays, but this is the first time I danced on the street. But just as in the film Madhubala looks at Emperor Akbar, I tried to look at the graffiti with similar pleas in my eyes.”
She also reflected on how open threats like these, within a city’s landscape, are meant to generate fear.
Stand-up comedian and National Award winning screenwriter and lyricist Varun Grover went on Twitter to support Sethi.