A puppet show will trace the Brahmaputra river’s journey | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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A puppet show will trace the Brahmaputra river’s journey

Performed as an opera, the show features larger-than-life puppets.

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Apr 21, 2017 19:11 IST
Rinky Kumar
Scenes from the Opera of Puppets: The Mysterious River Brahmaputra
Scenes from the Opera of Puppets: The Mysterious River Brahmaputra (Photos Courtesy: Magical Whispers)

Did you know that the Brahmaputra River is the only ‘male river’ in India, as all the other rivers have female names? Winding its way through Tibet, India and Bangladesh, and covering almost 3,000km, the river has religious significance for both Buddhists and Hindus.

These, and other lesser-known facts about the river, will be depicted through dance, drama, music and larger-than-life puppets in Opera of Puppets: The Mysterious River Brahmaputra, a show by Magical Whispers, a city-based group of story-tellers and puppeteers.

“We decided to stage a show on the Brahmaputra River as not much is known about it. We have traced its journey from its rise in Tibet, how it flourishes in Assam and descends into the Ganges in Bangladesh. In the process, it affects the cultures of all these places,” says Madhuri Kale, a certified puppeteer and founding member of the group.

Scenes from the Opera of Puppets: The Mysterious River Brahmaputra (Photos Courtesy: Magical Whispers)

Read more: A puppet artist is exploring Indian mythology through life-sized puppets

The puppet show also highlights the river’s religious significance and explores the father-son relationship between Brahmaputra and his father lord Brahma.

Rather than opting for the conventional string-and-rod form of puppetry, Kale and her team of five chose to make their own puppets using recycled bottles, cardboard boxes and saris. “The puppets had to show the river’s abundance, so we chose to make huge puppets. Also, children are easily drawn towards them,” she adds.

The biggest challenge was to encapsulate the river’s different aspects within a one-hour show, and ensure that it was entertaining. “We referred to the famous book, Tales from the River Brahmaputra, by Italian photographers Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone. But we wrote the script ourselves. We had to steer clear of depicting violence and certain events, like the mythological birth of Brahmaputra. So, we have used dance to take the story forward.”

Read more: Strings attached: How puppetry reinvented itself for a modern audience

Scenes from the Opera of Puppets: The Mysterious River Brahmaputra (Photos Courtesy: Magical Whispers)

Kale set up Magical Whispers last October, after teaming up with a classical and folk dancer, a speech and drama teacher, a counsellor and a trained musician, to familiarise children with epics and folk tales in an interesting way. The focus is to touch on the five development skills in kids — movement, social, emotional, general knowledge and communication — and motivate the little ones to use their imagination in ingenious ways.

Opera of Puppets: The Mysterious River Brahmaputra will be staged on April 23 at 11 am.
At CLAP Center, Solitaire II, Malad (W)
Call 6587 6777