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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Ironical twist: puppet fest sans kathputliwalas

Sahil Magoo, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 28, 2014
First Published: 14:04 IST(28/2/2014) | Last Updated: 19:42 IST(28/2/2014)

In an ironical twist, the Ishara Puppet Festival this year is happening during a time when the oldest ­puppeteers’ colony in Delhi faces a big threat. While the fest is bringing acts from as far and wide as Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland, the good old desi kathputliwalas feel cheated.

“Baahar se aayein toh sab theek hain ... five-star mein thehrao, thaat se khilao. Aur hum?” says 80-year-old ­puppeteer Nathu Ulhas, who has been living in the colony near Shadipur all his life. According to Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) in-situ redevelopment plans of 2009, the artist ­community residing here will be shifted temporarily to camps in Anand Parbat, about four kilometers away, until DDA flats get ready.

Meanwhile, the participants of the nine-day festival empathise with their local ­fraternity, and hope that this 12th edition will help people realise the richness of the oldest form of live performance-art all over again, and thereby give local artists their due.

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As a tribute, renowned ­puppeteer Dadi Pudumjee will bring alive the character of the age-old Indian narrator and storyteller — the sutradhar.

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“The act will have seven-eight excerpts from the previous performances that will be held together by an optimist puppet and a pessimist human being, who is the sutradhar. Through the show, the audience learns about the universal truth that each human being has within them, and how without it, the world would not exist,” says Pudumjee, his ­paradox well evident in the present scheme of things for the art and its creators.

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WHAT: Ishara International Puppet Festival 2014

WHERE: India Habitat Centre and Epicentre in Gurgaon

ON TILL: March 4 (For schedule and timings: www.isharapuppet.com/IsharaPuppets/calender.htm)

NEAREST METRO STATION: Jor Bagh and Huda City Centre on the Yellow Line


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