BENGALURU: While many call it a dying art form, Anupama Hoskere, director of Dhaatu Puppets, likes to consider puppetry as an evolving practice. “Puppetry is not a dying art form anymore. It has evolved and found its strong roots,” she said. Incorporating modern techniques of presentation with ancient storytelling, Dhaatu Puppets has made a prominent place among both rural as well as urban audience. “India has an audience for puppetry.
There is an aspect of the field being non-commercialised. At most of our shows, we have noticed that there are more patrons than the number of seats we offer. For example, at our International puppet festival that took place this January, we showcased a dance and puppet recital called Malavikagnamitram. We had to apologise and turn people away as there weren’t enough seats for all of them. Thus, we need to explore ways in which we could ensure a livelihood for these artistes and how we can promote the art form as well,” added Hoskere, who is preparing for a puppetry show this weekend at VR Bengaluru, Whitefield.
According to Hoskere, art and artistes in a country thrive when there is patronage. “It is very difficult for an artiste to look for money because their art suffers. Considering this situation, if art receives patronage from commercial centres, shopping centres or other communities initiatives, it becomes easier for artistes to reach more people,” she said.
Dhaatu has been organising various puppet festivals across the country and abroad for the past six years, which started at a state level. During their festivals, they bring in puppeteers from rural India and also those who have just started out in the field. “Our festival has served as a platform where puppeteers can learn and interact with the best in the world and also share their knowledge with those who are just starting out.”
Dhaatu plays string puppets – the Sutrada Bombe of Karnataka, Salahakhi Bombe – or the rod puppets of Karnataka and sometimes, shadow puppets or Thogalu bombe of the state. While keeping the charm of traditional storytelling, the company also tries to give a realistic touch to it. “We aim to teach storytelling and also let people enjoy the stories that we weave. Through our constant endeavours, we are trying to make puppetry educative, where people can learn about the history, nation, philosophy, epics, arts, colouring systems, music and dance,” she added.