Dhaatu International Festival 2018 held at Bangalore saw a sea of people come together for a puppet festival. It was a seven day long festival with over 100 artists from four countries. Dhaatu a non-profit organisation, works towards nurturing and promoting the traditional puppet art forms of India.
An Austrian puppeteer named Cordula Nossek who performed “Crocodile Tears” a puppet show based on false and real tears was one of the key highlights of the festival. She says, “I live in Europe, Austria which is very cold and this time around it is extremely cold so I decided to keep my heart warm and tell stories from all over the world, especially Africa.” She then led the audience through the story from African river banks. Meanwhile, she laughs and says,“I have decided to pick up a story from India and bring this story to my country (Austria).”
The festival began with a conference on the role of puppetry in storytelling, followed by a puppet parade and puppet show. It also saw a three-day children’s festival which had performances solely meant for the kids, such as a glove, rod, shadow, string, Russian and Austrian puppet shows.
Kids were wonder-struck to see the puppeteers perform their act. Little Rishabh, a 9-year-old in the audience was directed by his mother to come back to his seat, he protested and said, “As long as Kartik (his friend) is standing there I’m standing along with him and watching the show.”
When questioned if puppetry was the convenient forms of storytelling to children, Mrs Swati Prakash, a parent says, “Indeed. Puppetry is an interesting form which makes use of pictorial presentations and figures that develops a better sense of communication, connect and attention among the children. Hence I have got both my kids to the festival as I believe that puppets have always fascinated children.”
Varnika was all dressed as she sat on her mother’s laps in order to get a wider view of the puppet performance. She was enthralled by the idea of the adventure she was taken through by the puppeteer. When her mother asked her, “Varnika, can you tell me which animal’s voice is the puppeteer imitating?, Varnika guessed easily.
One of the guest of honours Ms Deepti Navaratna, Executive Director, IGNCA SRC (Indira Gandhi National Centre for arts – Southern Region Centre) says, “It is raining puppets in Bangalore and all the credits go to Smt Anupama Hoskere, the Festival Director.” Congratulating the team Dhaatu and the organisers on its vision, she added, “100 artists, 4 countries and 5 venues, even though the sentence is very short but the effort put in is of a larger magnitude. It is definitely the labour of love, passion, determination and sheer tenacity that has gone into organising such a successful international event.” She concluded saying, 'as we say that a picture is worth a million words likewise a puppet is worth a million stories'.
Report by Aditi Warnoolkar, NSoJ Bureau