The Dhaatu International Puppet Festival (Jan 4 – 8) has brought together puppetry artistes from Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Egypt and many parts of India for puppet shows at the JSS auditorium in Jayanagar in Bangalore.
The Puppet Festival has become an annual feature in the city from the past couple of years, and this year’s festival features a puppet parade and a conference on the folk arts of the rice-belt states.
Dhaatu Puppet Theater was founded by Anupama & Vidyashankar Hoskere whose aim is to keep alive the ancient art forms of puppetry and doll-making. Dhaatu draws its content from Indian epics and literary masterpieces. On the sidelines of the puppet festival, Subhalakshmi Roy of The Good City spoke to Anupama Hoskere, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and engineer, about the inspiration for Dhaatu: “It was to give value systems and roots and culture to the young, children and youth. That was the primary idea behind setting up Dhaatu. The medium was storytelling, and the most obvious choice for that was puppetry. I trained in puppetry and in the process, I realised that there are not too many players in Karnataka who could pass on the beautiful and sophisticated heritage of this art form. That made me learn more, and in the process I was madly in love with the form. Dhaatu continues its concept of teaching arts through the epics as all our performing arts takes stories from the epics. This is because the stories are layered and contemporary, and not only have valuable lessons of life but are also aesthetically pleasing. India continues to be a living tradition because of the widespread reach of our epics into every nook and corner. If we lose out on this richness, the loss would be irreplaceable.”
About Dhaatu International Puppet Festival “I realised that urban cities need this art form for bonding and communication, and I was surprised that younger people had never seen a full-fledged puppet show of Karnataka. We had a state level festival in 2009 and after the huge response, we held a national level festival in 2010, and again in 2011-12. The next logical thing to do was to invite other players. We are a very small NGO but dedicated members of Dhaatu are all doing it just for the love of puppetry.”
Another point of interest is a conference on the traditions of the rice-belt art forms of India & Asia.
The whole focus this year is on the rice-belt art forms of India; we realised that in the rice-belt states, the content and form still remains with us. It is very scientific, it is logical and there is an answer to every ‘Why’. Why is there this colour, why is there this costume, why do you have so much jewellery. Why is the music like this, why is the entrance done this way, why is the character – for every question there is an explanation, and that is to entertain better and to make it larger than life. This is not true in North India, they do not understand this. Unfortunately for us, the South has taken a backseat in the past 50 years and the old projection of the puppetry of the nation has been from Uttara Bharat. We have invited all the artistes of the rice-belt states who are practitioners of this style. We also share commonality with the countries of Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and they are here too.
Ramayana and Mahabharata integrate India. Natyashastra integrates art and Anupama Hoskere, Founder, Dhaatu theatre. We have all the equipment ready to make puppetry a household thing. Every six-year-old child will should be able to get a puppet theatre as a present for their birthday and be able to enjoy this in the house. This is our final aim.
Why do we do this? Because it is fun, it is ours and it is valuable and it is a great asset. It is very positive to life.”
See the puppets on The Good City YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe to know more about good things happening in your city!