Puppet festival: Of colours, music and mastery of movement
By Saleha Rauf
LAHORE: “We visit Pakistan every year. Performing here gives us a sense of achievement,” Kherati Ram Bhatt, a puppeteer from India, says.
Bhatt is here to participate in the 8th Folk Puppet Festival, organised by the Rafi Peer Theatre.
Puppeteers from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India have gathered to display puppet shows at the six-day festival that started on March 21, at Peerus CafÃ©.
Bhatt says his group worked with string puppets mostly inspired by Buddhism. He said while Pakistani puppeteers focused more on adornments such as clothes and jewellery, the Indian puppeteers emphasised on movement and dances.
Mahrukh Shami, a visitor, said that puppetry was one of the best ways to educate children about one’s culture and traditions. “This event will help imprint our folk culture on the minds of the children,” she said. Rohana Deva, a Sri Lankan puppeteer, stole the show with his traditional Sri Lankan epics. The movements of the puppets, use of bright colours and music kept the children in the audience captivated throughout the performance amid its foreign language.
Deva says that a puppeteer had to be a master of many arts including singing, acting, painting and dress designing. “Puppets can be effective for conveying political and social messages. I believe that puppetry can bring a social change and educate the society,” he adds. Rafi Peer Theatre’s classics including Bandar aur Pinki, Batakh, Yaro Yehi Dosti Hai, News Fuse Subh Sawayray Utho and Bol Ainay Bol were also presented.
Imran Peerzada said that most of the characters in these classics were developed in the early 80s. Norwegian puppeteers will perform on Saturday. Marthe Brandt, a Norwegian puppeteer, appreciated the inclination towards puppets in Pakistan.
“We don’t work with very modern art, or classics. Our puppets are not for those older than 15 years,” she said.
Various shows are held throughout the day from 9 am to 9 pm. The festival will continue till March 27.
Source: The Express Tribune