- Puthali Kalaranga is a 15-member troupe of youngsters, specialised
in traditional Bommalatta puppetry at Bangalore.
It has evolved a unique style of puppetry, recognised as
the ‘Mudrika School of Puppetry’. They perform famous
episodes from the Puranas, such as, Sri Krishna
Thulabhar, Indra Garva Bhanga, Girija Kalyana, Kumar Sambhava
and Lanka Dahana, -- using modern techniques
to make their shows spectacular. Their Lion and the Fox
(from Panchatantra) was performed in Kannada and
English. The group has performed in many places in India
and Iran. Director Dattatreya Aralikatte, a disciple of
M.R.Ranganath Rao, scripted Indrachapa by using mythological
themes to deal with the issue of deforestation. He has participated
in several puppet festivals and seminars in India and abroad.
Karnataka State, DSERT, CCRT, etc., have given him awards.
He has directed Purana Kathamala, a TV serial in
Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.
- Ramaiah is a traditional shadow puppeteer of Karnataka, with 6 members
in his group. He is the son of famous puppeteer Hombaiah.
They seem to lack invitations for shows nowadays.
- Rampada Ghoroi is a traditional Beni Putul Natch
exponent and farmer, has migrated to Kolkata in order to
survive as a full-time puppeteer in the traditional glove
puppet form with its terracotta heads. His family has performed
Beni Putul Natch
for the past 80 years. The repertoire comes from the epics,
with some modern, topical touches added to keep pace with
changing morality, be it an anti-smoking or new roles for
traditional women. Music from Bollywood movies or a national
calamity may find their way into the lyrics of his songs.
- Ranganatha Rao is a multi-faceted artist, classical singer, composer,
scriptwriter, costume-designer, light designer and director
from Bangalore. Winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award,
he is a traditional Bommalatta puppet artist having learnt
puppetry from his grandfather. He was a schoolteacher and
turned a professional puppeteer as suggested by Kamaladevi
Chattopadhyay. Rao’s Garuda Bommai puppets are
7 ft. tall, used during Ratha Yatra (Car Festival)
in south Indian temples, where people get into the body-frames
of the puppet and dance. Rao devised a special kind of puppet
for use as visual aids in rural schools. He has visited
international puppet festivals in Japan, USA and Europe.
His group is called Ragaputhali, which has performed
in major cities in India and abroad.
Charan Sahoo, who began his career in Ravanachhaya under
the guidance of the late Kathinanda Das, directs
Ravan Chhaya Natya Sansad, Orissa.
He has performed Ravanachhaya
all over the country as well as gives training to younger
performers. He was an active participant in the National
Puppet Theatre Festivals organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi
in 1978 and 1995, and the Puppet Theatre Workshops in 1988,
1991, 1997 and 1998. He has been President and Guru of Ravan
Chhaya Sansad since 1986 and published a book Ravan Chhayar Utpatti, Stithi o Vikash.
Kolha Charan has received many awards, including the Bhanja
Kala Parishad Award (1997), the Utkal Yuva Sanskritika Parishad
Award (1997), the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1998)
and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1999.
- Satya Narayan Putul Natya Sanstha, West Bengal follows the
Danger Putul tradition
of Bengal rod puppetry. The late Kangal Chandra Mondal founded
the group for more than thirty years, but the impact of
mass media had already begun to undermine the popularity
of the form. The present leader of the group, Nirapada Mondal,
began implementing new ideas into the traditional Danger Putul in order to win back
some of the audiences. He broadened his exposure to contemporary
puppetry by attending puppetry workshops and worked with
Suresh Dutta to further develop his puppetry skills and
technical expertise. He has produced Raja Harish Chandra, Mukti Chai, Natun Jivan, Siraj-Ud-Doula,
Raj Laxmi. Nirapada
Mondal was awarded a National Scholarship in 1997 from the
Government of India.
- Selvaraja Shadow Puppet Group, Tamil Nadu is directed by A.Selvaraja, who was born into a family of leather
puppeteers settled down
in the temple city of Tirukalukundram, about 60 from Chennai. His father and grandfather were practitioners
of this art form. Selvaraja
owes most of his training and skills to his uncle, Chellappa.
While the earlier leather puppet performances entertained
the common folk during temple festivals and fairs, presenting
mythological scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, Selvaraja uses it to present socially relevant themes, such
as child welfare, community health, population control and
adult literacy. A play dealing with the issue of AIDs was
peformed as part of the World AIDS Conference in Germany
in 1993. In 1997, he performed in Hamburg and Italy. He
stages his puppet shows in Dakshina Chitra, Injambakkam
every Saturday and Sunday.
Selvaraja devised a shadow play with animal characters
for children sponsored by an audiocassette producer.
- Sri Annapurneshwari Leather Puppet Mela is a traditional 5-member
shadow puppet group of Karnataka. The group has travelled
widely in India, Iran, Iraq, Holland, France and Italy.
The group leader Virupaxappa
Kshatri learnt puppetry from his father at the age of ten.
He has been awarded many certificates from the State and
Central government and also from abroad.
- Sri Ganesh Yakshagana
Gombeyata Mandali, Karnataka is a traditional group that performs the Yakshagana coastal area style. The
presentation is highly stylized since it adheres strictly
to the norms and standards of Yakshagana
Bayalata. It is interesting both on account of its
technique and content. Carved wooden string puppets 50
cm high play dance, song, dialogue, and the whole range
of human emotions and passions beautifully. The plays
and themes come from the epics and the Bhagavatha
Purana. Director Bhaskar Kogga Kamath, son of the
master puppeteer, Kogga Devanna Kamath, comes from an
old lineage of Yakshagana Gombeyata
performers 350-year old. He studied dance, music, puppet
carving, painting and manipulation from his father. Along
with the group, Bhaskar has toured extensively through
India, Europe, Australia and Pakistan, participating in
national and international puppet festivals. He has been
given awards and written many articles. Bhaskar is presently
developing new staging and performing techniques to broaden
the appeal of Yakshagana Gombeyata.
- Sri Gopalkrishna Yakshagana Bombeyata Sangha is based in Kasaragod,
in the North Border District of Kerala. The troupe presents
its performances based on the epics, Ramayana
in the Thenkuthittu style of Yakshagana, using carved string puppets
with colourful costumes. The troupe used the string puppet
form initially; now it has shifted to rod puppets, an
innovation of the younger generation of performers. Director
K.V. Ramesh, a graduate from Calicut University, was attracted
to the Yakshagana
art form carried on by the late Parthi Subba of Kasergod.
He performs in Kannada, Malayalam and Tulu languages.
- T.N. Sankaranathan is the founder and director of Sri Murugan
Sangeetha Bommalatta Sabha of Tamil Nadu. He and fellow
members are the manipulators of the puppets; give voices
for the dialogue and narration as well as the musicians.
The group has a repertoire of 16 stories, depicting different
Lords. It has staged throughout India. Their performances
have been included in the films Indian (in 5 languages), Avaram
Poo, Sikappu Malargal and Shonthamadi
Nee Yanagu, as well as appearing in several Tamil
- Sri Nataraja Nilaya Charmachita Kala Pradarsana Committee is a traditional shadow
group of Andhra Pradesh, which performed some big cities
in India. Besides epics, they perform on AIDS, family
planning, adult education, protection of wild life, polio,
deforestation, etc. These puppeteers are in great difficulty
now and seek help from all puppet lovers to preserve and
continue their art form.