The Shadow of a Puppet

The Shadow of a Puppet

The Shadow of a Puppet. Nori Art & Puppetry Centre celebrated the World Puppetry Day (March 21) with ‘Tholubommalata’ by Kanakadurga Puppet Group from Guntur.

Nori Art & Puppetry Centre celebrated the World Puppetry Day (March 21) with ‘Tholubommalata’ by Kanakadurga Puppet Group from Guntur.

Who doesn’t like puppets? They bring a smile to young and old alike. So, on the World Puppetry Day(March 21 ), this beautiful and fast diminishing art was celebrated at Saptaparni- Banjara Hills, with puppet shows , bringing cheer to kids and elders and a faint hope of survival for the artists. The main objective was to raise awareness of puppetry in the general public. The lady behind this endeavor Ratnamala Nori , Hyderabad’s well known puppeteer, has been entertaining audience, for the last many years, with wonderful productions from her NAPC (Nori Art & Puppetry Centre ). Her entire family participates in the shows and their dedication to this art is noteworthy.

A welcome song by Nori puppets was followed by a ‘Tholubommalata’ by Kanaka Durga Puppet Group from Guntur. They regaled the spectators with a presentation of, “Sundara Kanda” from the Ramayana. The urban audience found the rustic singing and the brilliant manipulation of the shadow puppets very charming. Their comic character “Poligaadu” garnered good amount of spontaneous donations from the audience, which was very heartening.

‘Tholu Bommonalata’ is the shadow puppet tradition of Andhra Pradesh and literally means dance of leather puppets.

This art form is an ancient custom by which epics and folktales and at times social messages were spread to the remote areas. Hailed as the earliest entertainment through coloured transfiguration, the shadow puppet theatre was, for long, the singular mode of pastime for rural masses, always combining entertainment with moral instruction. The Andhra puppets are unique both in terms of their huge, bigger than life figures, their complex colour scheme and their varied methods of articulation. In these days of “Idiot Box” ruling the roost, traditional arts struggle for survival. A key concern for a puppeteer in the Indian context in the present times is to develop performances and create characters which can connect with modern audiences, drawing on both modern and traditional themes. Many urban and modern puppeteers are able to do this. But it reaches only a niche audience. Puppetry in its new avatar has still a long way to go. But there is hope, with Anuradha Reddy of Saptaparni rightly termed as a “modern patron” (by Ratnamala Nori in her vote of thanks). Wish some more patrons will come forward and promote such truly traditional arts so that we can see many more such lovely puppet shows.

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