Thursday, August 31, 2006

India wins at the World Festival of Puppet Art, Prague

India is going Global in all fields.And the art of Puppetry is also not an exception to this rule.India literally shined at the recently concluded World Festival of Puppet Art in Prague, Czech Republic. This is one of the most prestigious events in Puppetry World, where 50 best Puppet Theatres from around the world represent their respective countries in the festival. Ramdas Padhye, Ventriloquist, Puppeteer and Puppet-Maker from Mumbai represented “INDIA” at this festival.He won a Special Jury Award for his play “Marriage of Draupadi” a puppet presentation of 150 Years old Puppets of Pioneer Marathi Dramatist Vishnudas Bhave.This puppet playlet is from the Great Indian epic Mahabharata.

Speaking more on this Mr.Padhye said “I am happy that I got the award.I am proud to be an Indian.Everybody loved our performance, especially the traditional Indian Puppets and their manipulation”.Ramdas Padhye along with wife Aparna and two sons Satyajit and Parikshit presented this play at the festival.Mr.Padhye said “I am happy that an Indian puppeteer has been selected.When asked about how he got chosen, he said “The committee of the festival short-listed 50 best Puppetry Theatres from 100 countries.I was really surprised when I got a mail from them.I wrote to them that I am going to present the 150 Years Old Puppets of Pioneer Indian Dramatist Vishnudas Bhave.And I got selected.
20 years ago when Ramdas Padhye was handed over this treasure of puppets they were all in shambles & nothing more than a neglected heap of wooden parts. Motivated by historic contribution of Late Vishnudas Bhave, Ramdas Padhye set upon with singular devotion to restore this treasure to its original glory & splendor. In the quest for resurrection and restoration of these puppets he waded through available 19th century literature, newpapers & biography with the able assistance of his wife Aparna Ramdas. Together they pieced together various references, scripts & leads gathered from the various spare parts of puppets & finally restored some of the puppets to the original splendor.After research of 20 years, Ramdas Padhye & his team brought to life these puppets almost after 150 years by staging this historic event at the Nehru Centre auditorium in Mumbai in 2000.After that he presented this play in various parts of India.He said “I always wanted to perform this play in an International Puppetry Festival because these puppets are really unique and different.” These puppets are basically operated by string & rod techniques which are superbly complemented by mechanical pulleys & specially crafted puppet theatre with inter-changeable wooden tracks. This unique technique presented by Ramdas Padhye may be or is first of its kind in international arena which was discovered 150 years ago by Indian puppeteer, Vishnudas Bhave.He said “That is the reason they chose me.”
In this festival there were many performances from different countries like China, Thailand, Belorussia, Holland, Poland, England.China and Thailand presented their traditional puppetry whereas Belorussia presented a puppet play of famous writer Leo Tolstoy.Romania presented another classic play “Faust” through puppets.”Pin Ups” presented by Spain was also outstanding where they showed different cabaret dancers through the art of puppetry.

Mr Padhye says that this festival is literally an example of how puppetry can be presented in different forms and for different age-groups right from children to adults.Mr.Padhye over the years has used traditional Indian puppetry technique in the modern form to give a contemporary look which will appeal to global audiences.Over 3 and half decades, Mr Padhye has so far performed more than 9000 shows around the world including number of television specials on various national and international networks including NBC, CBS, Channel 4 and continues to regale his audiences with his witty and entertaining puppets.

Mr Padhye has made all the Indians proud by winning the Special Jury Award by his excellent performance at the festival and resurrecting the 150 Years Old Puppets.