‘Kathputliyan’ : Paradise Regained?

Puppet Kathputli Show

Hamirpur: Puppet show presented by the well-known puppeteer from Jalandhar, Badri Bhatt at a five-day-long ‘Bharat Nirman’ public information campaign organized by the Press Information Bureau of Shimla here got enormous response.

Puppet shows, were an integral part of Indian kingdoms, culture, and traditions. In ‘darbars’ (courts of princely estates) puppeteers used to demonstrate folklore by performing puppet shows in front of large audience. Once an integral part of Indian culture, puppet shows are now at the verge of extinction. Today, only 150 families are involved in this form of ancient art.

Bhatt, 37, has recently registered his three men unit, ‘Badri Bhatt Katthpuli Party’, with the Department of Song and Drama Division (Media unit of Government of India) after that he has organized 100 shows under the banner of ‘Bharat Nirman Jansuchna Abhiyan’. He is getting about 40 orders annually.

Today Mr Bhatt said he was trying to explore new realms of public awareness in this dying art, which was drawing huge crowds in his shows presented on the stage and on the streets.

The art, confined to the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Maharashtra, is the source of livelihood of about less than 150 households who mostly perform on the streets and most of them have now migrated to other places in search of jobs and other means of livelihood.

Stating about his recent shows sponsored by the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, and State’s AIDS control society, he said this medium was proving emphatic to disseminate the information among masses which was otherwise difficult to pass out in close-knit society.

“We found that the puppet shows are apt for creating awareness on the issues of health, AIDS& HIV, anti-tobacco, female feticides, child marriage, etc” Mr Bhatt said.

His forefathers were once associated with the court of Raja Amar Sigh Rathore. Today he is passing this unique art to his 19-year-old son Ravi Bhatt who is already registered under the party and performing with him along with his friend Sunil.

“We had drawn huge crowd at Reckong Peo (headquarters of Kinnuar district) when we performed first puppet show recently,” Mr Bhatt said adding that they were regularly performing in Himachal Pradesh on the occasion of Kullu Dasehra, Mandi Shivratri, and Minjar fair of Chamba.

Mr Bhatt organizes puppets training camps in Chandigarh and Haryana where he trains youth to learn the art of making puppets. The response is overwhelming, he says. As many as 12 training camps have been held at Kalagram, Bal Bhavan and Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh.

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