In the month of November, Dilli Haat Mela Complex saw a bunch of students hailing from Enactus, Shri Ram College Of Commerce , who were pitching for a puppet festival comprising a two hour long puppet making workshop, followed by a Rajasthani puppet show.
Project Kayakalp is an initiative that aims to empower the artists of Kathputli Colony of Shadipur Depot, consisting of Puppet masters, folk dancers, sword-swallowers, drummers, singers, magicians and fire fighters with a stable and sufficient source of income by identifying and capitalizing on existing markets and modernizing their art forms to tap newer markets. They represent an Indian heritage which is valuable and on the verge of being lost forever. The artists here have the potential to entertain the world. But ‘potential’, not backed by market opportunities, has forced them to survive on dwindling incomes. They have begun the project with 4 puppeteers where they are trying to hone their skills of not only puppetry but also marketing their art. The enthusiastic puppeteers have undergone training with Kataktha. They have created a show on Bullying and conducted 10 successful shows till now in schools, NGOs and residential colonies and have received a great response from the audience.
The workshop, a charge –free effort, began at 1pm when small enthusiastic children began to flock towards the stage, ready to craft their very own Bundraku Puppets out of newspaper and tape rolls , motivated by their parents who waited till their kids had a moving paper soul in their hands.
After the workshop, the energetic train of students went around , a few wearing big puppet heads and all crying out slogans and distributing brochures among the Sunday Shoppers, urging all to rush to the stage for a Rajasthani Puppet Show. And so they came! Came in large numbers to support the puppeteers and acknowledge the vision of reviving Indian art forms. A puppet entered from behind the screen and was greeted with a round of cheering by the younger spectators. It was time to sing, set the stage on fire and pull the strings of change!
After the play which saw a mesmerized audience, the puppeteers performed a wrestle fight between a human sized Bundraku Puppet and a real muscle man which left them wide eyed with respect for the austerity and authenticity of traditional puppetry. The festival drew to a close only after another round of applause from the giggling audience which was reciprocated by the students in the form of a thank you note which emphasized, “Together we can prevent the slow yet incessant fading away of the history and culture we are so proud of. It’s time we realize and give our artists the stature they deserve.”