Amid all the festive this and that and dazzle and deluge has arrived a box of tiny wooden creatures all the way from Czech Republic. The Pinocchio-sque puppets have done their dance at Durga Pujas around town, and are now resting before their next show at the Delhi International Arts Festival on October 29. Their creator and conductor, Luis Montoto of the Karromato puppetry company (carromato in Spanish means caravan) is slow with his English and can’t quite pronounce the names of all places they have performed at, but he brings out the futility of the spoken word and text beautifully in context of his art. “It is not important what I say but what happen (sic).”
Indeed, for when there is a circus (‘cir-coos’, as Luis puts it with endearing deliberation) with lions and ring masters and acrobats and clowns and foot-tapping 200-year-old music, who cares about words! “My wife and I do the voices when necessary but it is not so much,” says the 50-year-old Spaniard whose love for traditional Czech Marionette (or string-operated) puppetry took him to the republic 25 years ago, where he pursued his passion for puppet carving, fell in love, got married and had kids. Now, the family travels around the world to make the culture known.
“I hear that the middle-class in India is looking for good, cheap entertainment and so we have come here, like we go to a lot of places,” he says, adding how everyone from grandmoms and parents to kids seemed to have enjoyed the acts at the pandals, perhaps where it was a novelty.
Luis is refreshingly frank about his experience of Indian puppetry. “I have seen Rajasthani puppetry. It is about dance and music and it is very folk. But it is difficult to understand,” he admits on being asked if he can comprehend the stories in them. Czech puppetry, on the other hand, he says, embraces all styles — folk storytelling, 3D modelling and technology, the circus, dance and music and random gimmicks. “Everyone seems to love the cir-coos. But my favourite is a monkey act … just a monkey that jumps and dances with the music. That is beautiful.”