It is hard to miss the old man seated at the entrance of the India International Centre gallery. His head appears hollow and a heart protrudes from the top,amid his tuff of grey hair. He is the Old Man From The Alzheimers Show by puppeteer Anand Kumar. He is a part of an exhibition Dissolving Boundaries The Journey of Puppetry.
From traditional puppets and kathputlis to shadow puppets and bunkaru,including string,muppets,processional puppets and masks,there are over 60 pieces on display. The Old Man forgets that he has eaten his meals and much to the irritation of his son and daughter-in-law,he repeatedly asks for food. His story is meant to create awareness about Alzheimers, says Anurupa Roy,founder of Katkatha.
This exhibition is organised by the India chapter of UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette),an international puppeteers union. There are traditional puppets from Indonesia and China,puppets operated through strings and rods,table puppets and giant 15-feet puppets, says Roy,who is also the General Secretary of UNIMA India.
Roy talks about how puppets have helped people in conflict areas such as Kashmir and Manipur. Puppetry is an indirect medium where you are not exposed. People are encouraged to talk about living in such areas,where there is a strong idea of the victim and the oppressor. In being,both actor and doer,they find their own coping mechanisms, she says.
The exhibition also has puppets of Duke Orsino from Shakespeares play Twelfth Night by Katkatha,Heer and Ranjha,the doomed lovers,by Dadi Pudumjee,and Shah Jahan and Anarkarli by Vikram Bhats family,whose forefathers performed in the palaces of Rajasthan.
Another display titled Godhuli-Amma and the Set by Ranjana Roy,shows an old lady sleeping on her bed in her room,while a box next to her hides her wedding photograph. A movie tells the story of the widow. Puppets have the unique quality of touching emotions. The movie shows the loneliness that a woman feels towards the end of her life, says Ranjana,President,UNIMA India.
The exhibition is on display at Kamaladevi Block,Main Building,
India International Centre till December 17. Contact: 24619431