The Puppet Show

The Puppet Show

Looks like its Raining Puppets! After my post on the Puppet Making Workshop, I had an opportunity to see a Puppet show at Sankalpa School. I could feel their excitement in the air. They were all curious to see what it was that would enfold before them when the curtains were raised. As an introduction to puppets in India began and the curtain was raised on the Puppet Show, the kids burst out clapping.

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa- The Tenali Raman Troupe of puppets

 

With the Ganapathi puppet seated on a pedestal, the other two puppets were singing and dancing, praising lord Ganapathi. Right from a burning aarathi for the lord’s pooja to the garland of flowers to decorate the Lord, it was as real as it could get. One of the puppets also brought out a placard wishing the children a ‘Happy Children’s Day’. The prayer ended with the two of them falling at the feet of the diety. Mr. Vijay, who is one of the sons of M R Ranganatha Rao, the legendary puppeteer tells me that the Ganapathi puppet in wood is more than 250 years old and has been in their family for generations. They use the ancient form of Mysore Rod Puppetry and also the string puppets. The puppets are all beautifully carved in wood and dressed resplendently.

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa- 250 years old Ganapathi Puppet in wood

 

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa- The Aarati used is quite real with the diya burning!

After the prayer, the children were introduced to the dandiya group of puppets. Let me tell you, they were the centre of attraction for the kids in the entire Puppet Show. This was a set of puppets all attached to one ring and the loop at the centre controls their hands. Believe me! The set is quite heavy, though the dexterity with which it was being wielded by the puppeteer, you wouldn’t know it. In fact when they winded up the puppet show, they took the puppets among the kids and all of them held the puppet strings and made them dance. When I was offered a chance, I immediately took it up. It was so much fun…but lots of muscle power too.

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

 

Then there was the snake and the snake charmer. Right from the dressing of the snake charmer to the snake in banares silk, it was an entertainer. In fact Mr. Vijay jovially brought the snake puppet out among the kids even as the show was going on…some were quite brave and didn’t flinch. I quite remembered my daughter…as we were watching Snow White on TV, I was in tears as the dwarfs were mourning for Snow White and my daughter says, “Why are you crying Amma? It’s not real!” Off course…Silly me! So these days kids are more alert to what’s real and what’s not!

 

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa- The Mysore Rod Puppet

 

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa- The Dandiya Puppet set

 

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa -Curious hands at the strings

 

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

 

 

The Puppet Show also had a play on Tenali Rama and the king. For every dialogue, you could see the corresponding movement and body language of the puppet. It was the scene of the king asking the ministers to tell him the total number of crows in the kingdom and Tenali Rama cleverly says that they are as many as the majesty’s hair. When the king asks for a number, he gives a random number. But the king is not satisfied and says that he will have them counted. To which Tenali Rama replies that if they are found to be less, the crows would be visiting their relatives and if more, then the neighbouring crows must have come for a visit. With this the whole court bursts out laughing and so do we, as we remember this story. The Puppet Show is a beautiful way to remember these stories which lie forgotten in our own childhood.

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa -Tenali Rama

The Puppet Show ends on a joyous note where the stage setting is removed and the puppeteers join the kids for a dance along with the puppets…some of the kids being as big and some smaller than the puppets!

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa -The child was smaller than the puppet!

 

It was a lovely thought to have the kids see something as special as a puppet show. In this day and age where there is no dearth of entertainment on TV and tabs, it becomes important to expose this generation to the only entertainment that the earlier generations had. If not for our encouragement and patronage, this art will surely not survive. Sankalpa Montessori school is definitely doing a great job in encouraging the artists to continue the legacy. Kudos to the school and Rangaputhali for continuing the legacy of puppets which began with  M R Ranganatha Rao.

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

The Puppet show by Rangaputhali at Sankalpa

More on Rangaputhali and the making of these puppets in another post! In the meanwhile they can be contacted at [email protected] or 08022428313 for programs and puppet shows.

Hope you enjoyed the show. The video will be uploaded soon on this show.

Lots of Twinkles to you.

Have a great weekend.

Anupama

 

 

Puppet Making Workshop

Puppet Making Workshop

Having a child who is five and loves watching TV, I am always on the lookout for activities beyond the couch. When Taneira Jayanagar organised the puppet making workshop, I was among the first to register. The puppet making workshop was in line with their philosophy of working with hands in an age where we are forgetting the value of handmade.

Puppet making workshop.

Puppet making workshop. Swatches of fabric from across India brought together by Puthali Toys.

 

My child was totally excited and couldn’t stop talking about it all week. She’s quite a fashionista…and was totally fascinated with all the beautiful sarees, gorgeous colours and lovely ambience. She couldn’t get enough of the beautiful motifs and weaves in the catalogues and was full of advice on which saree I should pick. But I am on this “very difficult to keep promise” of no shopping. Though I did earmark a few sarees I loved, especially the Ikat.

Puppet making workshop.

Puppet making workshop.

 

As the Children’s day is being celebrated in November, Taneira organised the puppet making workshop on the 12th of November with Puthali toys who keep conducting such workshops. Mr. Chaitra Kumar represents a lineage of artists and puppeteers from four generations and is the founder of Puthali toys. They make toys and puppets from wood and paper mache and also conduct workshops. The best part in this puppet making workshop was that there was no benchmark, no puppet so see and make. With just a cotton glove, bits of paper, lots of glue and colours, we created the face and the neck. My daughter also added her own touch of blush. Kids picked chits which were based on different weaves and they had to dress up their puppet based on the weave. This was a wonderful way to help them identify the weaves and introduce them to the different textures. We had the south silk and the motif was ‘the tree of life’. It was also an opportunity for us to rediscover the child in us. So though we were clueless in this department, the team from Puthali toys helped us navigate and we easily created masterpieces in puppets.

Puppet making workshop.

Three generations at work.

 

Within a matter of 2 hours we had a beautiful puppet. Parents were as involved as the children and it was a sight to behold…where everyone was busy with glue and swatches of fabric instead of mobile phones. I am sure the puppet making workshop was a great bonding experience for all involved. With similar pieces of paper, different puppets emerged- the expressions, dress, fashion sense and creativity of kids creating individual beauties. All the materials required for the puppet making was provided by the team from Puthali Toys. There were also the props, the trees, grass, cattle, horses and elephants, all beautifully recreated by the kids, guided by the experts in puppet making from Puthali toys. The parents were then asked to leave the kids to plan and bring together the puppet show.

Puppet making workshop.

Puppet making workshop.

 

Puppet making workshop.

Puppet making workshop.

 

The story was narrated by one of the kids. The story of the saree seller who thought he had the most beautiful collection of sarees, but was ousted by the queen Sitara Devi who had a saree collection like no other. It was the saree seller’s challenge that nobody had weaves like his and he goes on to display sarees in Kanjeevaram, Ikat from Orissa, Rajkot, Paithani, Banares and Chatthisgarh. The queen inturn displays six sarees in Ilkal, Bengal,  Jamini Roy Motif saree, SouthSilk, Kasuti from Karnataka and Jamdani. Parents and the children were introduced to the different weaves as the puppets made their entry with kids wriggling their puppets quite vigorously. This workshop was a beautiful blend of knowledge and fun. After the contest, the queen Sitara Devi, admonishes the saree vendor that each saree is different and has a rich culture and history behind it. So the weaves cannot be compared. She advices him, “Use the opportunity to spread our rich cultural heritage and diversity”. The saree vendor is reformed and becomes the ambassador of our great weaving history.

Puppet making workshop.

Puppet making workshop. Sarees, motifs and puppets

 

Puppet making workshop.

Puppet making workshop. Chaitra Kumar and team from Puthali Toys.

 

With this puppet making workshop, the children couldn’t stop smiling, their pride and sense of achievement shining through. I had no idea I would enjoy this puppet making workshop as much as my child. It created wonderful memories for us, which will go much beyond this workshop and Children’s Day. Thank you to the wonderful people at Taneira and Puthali toys for this day.