Entertainment
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Seen a puppet show lately?

Have been meaning to write about a slightly different form of entertainment I enjoyed a few days ago. A puppet show at the Alliance called Fox Story with Vaish for company. Later, we realized that behind all the entertaining music, dialogues and songs were just 3 guys (where we thought was a whole team of about 10 people!).

It was an interesting experience in that I don’t quite remember going for a puppet show in the recent past. I guess it’s not a form of entertainment one comes across very frequently. I’m glad I wandered into the hall after class. The entrance was free too, so I’m wondering how these folks manage to make money.

Everyone seemed to have a good time – adults and children alike. Vaish kept exclaiming ‘too cool’ and guffawing at regular intervals! The trio kept peppering their English and French dialogues with Kannada and Hindi phrases and that was really hilarious. Frenchmen speaking Kannada is pretty much like a true-blue Kannadiga trying to speak French!!

The group performing, I later found out thanks to Vaish’s research, and an article in The Hindu today, is called The Theatre of the Small Mirror (Théâtre de Guignol). The company was formed by Jean Luc Penso and he’s even worked with Cambodian artists to do a human shadow play adaptation of the Ramayana. Apparently, Penso fell in love with Chinese puppets 35 years ago when he saw a 10-minute documentary film on the art made by his guru and filmmaker, Jaques Pimpaneu. When he was 19, he went off to Taipei to study with a Chinese master, Li Tien Lu.

The group has performed in over 65 countries. Isn’t that impressive! I have always admired those who follow their calling and I think it’s pretty admirable that this trio have managed to bring alive this otherwise dying art. I believe the art of puppetry is still practiced in many rural areas in India, though I personally haven’t seen much of it. To make a profession of it would definitely require much courage and confidence in the art.

Today’s supplement in The Hindu has an interesting write-up on this puppet theatre group.

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7 Comments

  1. KRISHNA says

    i think puppets are making sort of a come back…

    but it is paradigm shift for them….

    recently i happend to come across NDTV’s documentary on ADISHAKTI… and then they had given shelter to one couple doing ramayana shadow plays with these shadow puppets…

    sadly puppeteering,like many other artforms has very limited scope for making any money out of it…

    so they have to look beyond performing for small audiences only in live form..

    as you can see the use of the puppets in mass media…

    i think the hit show like double take on NDTV is prime example of how we can keep this artform alive in mass medium…

    if i remember there was a movie called team america released recently in US… it was a puppet movie i think…(dont know how successful it was though)

  2. always wanted to see puppet shows since a couple of years.. but dont know where they happen in delhi…I even waned to learn puppetry 🙂

  3. I recently saw a puppet show in Jaipur. fairly raw but entertaining all the same…. the guys got together a mixed act using the puppets and some voice throwing techniques…good fun!

  4. Jyothi says

    Hi Anita,

    It’s almost two months I have been reading your blog. To be frank, Every time I read ur blog I get inspired, it can be either ur paintings or your trek or even your creative mentality with photographs and aspiration for life. Even I have started with my blog but somehow not very regular(http://joee.rediffblogs.com/).

    Anyway thanks for being my inspiration :-).

  5. Nice post. It is true that puppets are going extinct. I haven’t seen a puppet show for ages.

    Any art when performed well is beautiful and needs to be preserved. Keep spreading the word.

    And yes, people who follow their calling are admirable.

  6. Krishna: I guess people don’t view it as popular entertainment, so it is bound to be difficult to make money in this art. i think it is still quite popular in villages and small towns though.

    twilight: you’ll probably have to go to rajashtan for that 🙂

    Lost in thots: Thanks for the link.

    Charu: Now, I have to plan a trip to Rajasthan. One place I have never been to and am dying to go 🙂

    Jyothi: Thanks for the really nice words. You made my Monday morning 🙂 Do keep it up!

    Anirudh: It can be really good if it is done well, that’s what I discovered!

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