The Study Society

The Study Society is delighted to present a very special evening themed around Philippa Frisby’s new film documentary, The Wrestler’s Cane, which explores the ancient art form of pole yoga, also known as Mallakhamb. 

Yoga devotee, lecturer and broadcaster, Daniel Simpson, will introduce the film (running time: 85 minutes) after which he’ll moderate a conversation with the guru of Mallakhamb – its pioneering champion – Shri Uday Deshpande and the film’s Director and producer, Philippa, who will explain how she came to make this beautiful film.

Venue: Colet House, 151 Talgarth Rd, London W14 9DA
Date: Wednesday, April 10th
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Find out more and book tickets by clicking on the links below:

Meet our speakers

Shri Uday Deshpande

Shri Uday Deshpande, popularly known as Mallakhamb Vishwa Guru, is the Honorary General Secretary of Dadar’s pioneering Physical Education Institute ‘Shree Samantha Vyayam Mandir’, where he has been Head Coach for the past 42 years.

For over 50 years, Uday has worked tirelessly to champion Mallakhamb as a means of enriching peoples’ lives and to have pole yoga recognised by institutions such as the Government of India and the Indian Olympic Association.  His adult life has been spent in service to the Mallakhamb Federation in order to create a groundswell of support and to introduce this sport to a worldwide audience.

However, at the outset, there was no established framework for Mallakhamb so Uday set up the Vishwa Mallakhamb Federation and, as its founding director and honorary secretary, he steadily fostered interested, trained initiates and built up Mallakhamb’s following into the global sport it is today, while writing the international rule book and forming standardised judging bodies along the way.

Such is his passion for the discipline, Uday has initiated over five thousand Mallakhamb demonstrations around the world and he himself has trained over a thousand Mallakhamb enthusiasts from 52 countries across Asia, Europe and the US.

As a result, there are now National Mallakhamb Federations in 15 countries which compete in the Mallakhamb world championships, two of which Uday has orchestrated.

Throughout these years of service to pole yoga, Uday has mentored players, coaches and winners, and his efforts have been recognised with over 50 national and international awards for his coaching skills and sports organisation.  In addition, Uday’s personal sacrifices in dedication to Mallakhamb and the founding of a global movement have been honoured by a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Government of Maharashtra and in January 2024 received the Padma Shri Award for his outstanding commitment in the field of Mallakhamb.

Baluji Shrivastav OBE

One of the world’s leading composers and sitar players, Baluji Shrivastav OBE has released many classical and world music albums as well as composing for orchestra, theatre, dance, film, television and radio.

He has performed and recorded with a slew of global artists such as Stevie Wonder, Coldplay, Massive Attack, Madness, Shakira, Malu, Boy George and Doves.  Meanwhile, Baluji’s credits include Disney’s Million Dollar Arm, 20th Century Fox’s New Girl, NBC’s Outsourced and the world’s only Urdu opera, Sohini and Mahival, which he composed with Golden Globe and Oscar winner, Dario Marianelli.

Having lost his sight as a baby, Baluji and his wife, Linda Shanson, founded the Baluji Music Foundation and the Inner Vision Orchestra, which recognises and supports sight-challenged musicians and they have a band together called Jazz Orient.

Honoured for his services to music, his many projects supporting the visually impaired and the charitable Baluji Music Foundation, his talent, skills, energy and compassion are celebrated throughout the world. Among many accolades, he is the proud recipient of an OBE, the GG2 Award for Overcoming Adversity and the prestigious Hind Rattan Award-Jewel of India from the Indian Government.

Daniel Simpson

A keen student of yoga, Daniel has practised Iyengar for many years and his fascination for the subject has led him to study it deeply. A consequence of this scholarship is his clear, concise and accessible guide entitled ‘The Truth of Yoga’, which explores yoga’s evolution and puts its teachings into context.

Daniel also lectures on the history and philosophy of yoga at SOAS and at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. In addition, Daniel teaches classes and hosts the Ancient Futures podcast, which offers timeless wisdom for modern dilemmas, while his website provides critical thinking and practical insights derived from centuries of yogic practice, made relevant to our lives today.

Prior to his work with yoga, Daniel read History at Cambridge University before becoming a foreign correspondent, working for Reuters and the New York Times.

Philippa Frisby

Philippa Frisby

Philippa is an independent filmmaker whose media career started after studying Comparative Religion at Bristol University.

Her television credits include documentaries for ‘Dispatches’, ‘ The Torture Trail’ and ‘The Saudi Tapes’, made by the first TV journalist to interview Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1996 while her film work includes ‘The Tale of the Three Lost Jewels’(1994) – the only feature ever shot in Gaza.

An experienced Iyengar teacher, Philippa came across Mallakhamb in India while filming ’The Circle’ her first feature documentary. 

This is her second documentary feature, The Wrestler’s Cane (2023) on this fascinating discipline.