Basanto Ghoroi, a Beni Putul performer, is from the village of Midnapore, West Bengal.
bearers’, Basanto’s family would take their rod and glove
puppets with them on their long journeys to entertain
audiences and to thereby supplement their income. Puppetry
is now their main source of income. Basanta and his family
members perform their folk and educational puppet plays
from door to door. They also perform at cultural organizations
and schools. Like other Beni
Putul Natch performers, Basanto sells the puppets
as an extra means of income.
- Belagallu Veeranna is a traditional shadow puppeteer from
Karnataka, hailing from a Kille-Kyatha tribal family,
traditionally involved in the art of shadow puppetry. He
has passed on his skills to his entire family who are equally
adept at singing, playing the various musical instruments
and manipulating the puppets. Veeranna has performed extensively
in south India, Maharashtra and Delhi. He presented Bapu,
a shadow show on Gandhi, in collaboration with IGNCA, Delhi.
- Chhaya Nataka Brundam is
a traditional shadow puppet group from Andhra Pradesh. His
father trains Director S. Chidambara Rao. He comes from
a long line of traditional Andhra shadow puppet theatre
performers. Along with his group, Chidambara Rao has performed
in Dharmasthalam, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ananthpur and Chennai.
- The String Puppet Show of Dheren Natya Putul Nach Party, West
Bengal was formed to pay homage to the ancestors and to
revive the long lost customs and traditional cultural values
in today’s society. The group has been performing successfully
in various parts of their state and in India for many years.
Krishna Pada Sardar, the present director of the group,
followed his father, the founder of the group. He has written
more than 50 string puppet plays that have been staged in
West Bengal. His children have learnt the skills of puppet
manipulation and are continuing on the family tradition.
- Indian Puppeteers is a group founded by M.V.Ramanamurthi,
a famous shadow puppeteer at Chennai. S. Seethalaxmi, disciple
of Ramanamurthi, is the current director. She performed
in Europe, USA, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Staging traditional
shadow shows like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Lord Ayyappa
and Panchatantra stories, apart
from contemporary puppet shows based on social issues. This
family group performs in temple festivals, birthday parties,
etc. Seethalaxmi received Kalaimamani Award from government
of Tamil Nadu in 1987 and is currently working in the Central
Leather Institute (CLRI), Chennai.
- Jadunath Haldar Putul Natch Opera under Jagadish Chandra Haldar is the oldest active
rod puppet group in West Bengal. They mainly perform
from epics and Puranas, but now they performed animal
stories from Panchatantra and social stories. Group
has performed at Festival of India, USSR and national festival
Kharati Ram Bhatt
Kharati Ram Bhatt is a traditional string puppeteer of Rajasthan.
He has three stories – Amar Singh Rathore, Hirni
Aur Shikari and Ruthi Rajkumari.
is basically a Yakshagana performance with string puppets.
M. Upplaiah and his troupe is from Ammapur village of
Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh. All artists are singer,
narrator, musician and manipulator. They perform some
episodes of Ramayana, some wonder tales like Balanagamma
Katha, Dharmangada Charita and some mythical plays. They
have more than hundred puppets
- K.S. Sanjeevamurthy has a traditional 5-member group of shadow puppeteers
from Karnataka. He performs in many places, but the frequency
has declined of late.
Krishnan Kutty Pulavar Memorial Tholpava
Koothu & Puppet Centre, Kerala,
directed by K.K. Ramachandra Pulavar, who comes from a long
line of Tolpava Kuthu performers. His father, the late K.L. Krishnankutty
Pulavar, was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for
Puppetry. Ramachandra belongs to the Koonathara tradition
of Tolpava Kuthu
and accompanied his father to performances since childhood.
He began his training in the Ramayana,
the Puranas, itihasas, shastras, astrology,
architecture as well as mastering the koothu
songs, text interpretations, puppet making and manipulation.
Since 1979, he has participated in many puppetry festivals
in India and abroad.
Kumbakonam Thiru T.N. Sankaranathan began his career in the
performing arts by studying Carnatak music. He later studied
Bommalatam under the guru, Thiru A.S.
Mani Iyer. He learned to carve and paint as well as manipulate
the Bommalatam puppets. His first performance
Sri Vinayar Puranam
was well received. Sankaranathan performed in New Delhi
as part of the National Cultural Programme in 1986. The
Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram in 1992 conferred the
State Award and honourary title of ‘Kalaimaman’ on Sankaranathan.
Puppet by BaniKanta Dev Burman
- Mohakhali Putala Natch group under Banikanta Dev Burman,
is an oldest traditional string puppet
group in Assam. They use epic themes.
- The Pavakathakali group
Natanakairali was established in 1981 to revive the
art of traditional Kerala glove puppetry. The group was
invited to participate in the 11th International
Puppet Theatre Festival held in Poland in 1984 and at the
Puppet Carnival held in Japan in 1986. In 1987 the group
presented performances in Geneva and major cities in Switzerland.
These and other festivals within Indian and abroad projected
the group and its tradition, achieving for it considerable
international popularity and acclaim. It has won recognition
as one of the best glove puppet theatre forms. Pavakathakali plays are taken from
includes Kalyana Saugandhikam and Duryodhana Vadham. In 1981 when Pavakathakali was near extinction,
Gopal Venu through his Natanakairali Centre was determined
to revive the art form. Under Gopal Venu’s guidance, a group
of artists were chosen and given training in music, manipulation
and puppet making. Over the past 20 years, Venu and Natanakairali
have brought Pavakathakali to the forefront of traditional Indian puppetry.