Shrimati Shanta Serbjit Singh, Vice Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi inaugurated an exhibition on puppetry at the Art Gallery at the Shrimata Shankardeva Kalakshetra premises today forenoon in the ongoing 6th India Puppetry Festival, ‘Putul Yatra’, held from April 22-30. Shrimati Singh was extremely delighted to the idea of such puppetry exhibition as it has helped puppetry emerge from its conventional boundary and helped it grow global. “Earlier any traditional art forms of puppetry traversed merely 100 miles from the place of its origin during its entire life time, but exhibits like these take them far and wide. I appreciate and thank the efforts of Shrimanta Shankardeva Kalakshetra in their endeavor to organize this festival in collaboration with Sangeet Natak Akademi”, she said during her inaugural speech. Shrimati Singh also felicitated Chief designers of the festivals, Neeraj Sahai and Nuruddin Ahmed, with a traditional Assamese gamosa.
Jayant Kastuar, Secretary of Sangeet Natak Akademi during his inaugural speech spoke about the essence of such puppetry festivals and exhibitions and how it has helped preserving and up-grading puppetry in India. “This puppetry exhibition has displayed some rare puppets from the archives of Sangeet Natak Akademi and such collection began some 50 years back. Here we have 185 puppets on display out of 850 puppets from the Akademi archives. Many exhibits are the product of craftsmanship of three generations of the same family”, said Mr. Kastuar. Chabin Rajkhowa, Secretary of Shrimanta Shankardeva Kalakshetra, Dadi. D. Pudumjee, President Unima and some other distinguished dignitaries were also present at the inauguration. On being asked, Dadi D. Pudumjee stressed the need to up-grade puppetry from their conventional ways. He also said that Government, various government and non-government organizations should also come forward to help the puppeteers.
The inauguration of the art exhibition was followed by the staging of puppetry shows by various troupes. Tripura’s traditional string puppetry group, Sri Krishna Putul Nritya Samstha of Agartala, staged Raja Harischanda, which was followed by Sita Haran, staged by Makhukli Putala Nach Samiti of Nalbari, Assam which is a renowned traditional string puppetry troupe of Assam. Kat-Katha Puppet Theatre Trust, Delhi staged a Contemporary puppetry play titled About Ram. This was followed by Dhola Maru, staged by Aakaar Puppet Theatre, Delhi, which is the traditional Kathputli troupe of Rajasthan. Bangalore’s Putthali Kalaranga, a Salaki Gombeyatta-Traditional rod & string Puppetry troupe of Karnataka put up the last show of the day titled Kumar Sambhava.