In conversation with the Bengal Puppet artists
Posted on December 22nd , 2019 by Sreyashi Basu
Puppetry in West Bengal, which holds popular relevance to medieval folk ballads of undivided Bengal, is commonly called putul naach (doll dance).
String puppets, originally manipulated with string and also with wire, are mostly found in Nadia. Until two decades ago, almost every household in Muragacha was involved in puppetry, ranging from making puppets to giving performances. But the advent of television, coupled with the waning interest of people, brought down the significance of this art form in people’s lives.
How long have you been in the profession?
We have been in this profession for 35-37 years.we are running in generations. My father used to be a puppet master, then my older brother and in the end I continued this legacy in different areas of West Bengal.
What have you used puppet dancing for?
We’ve narrated several theatre plays and movies and then we’ve participated in a few government-run programs as well.We have performed shows based on themes such as adhering to traffic rules, importance of wearing helmets, literacy as opposed to solely
Did you like doing this work? Have you learnt anything?
Yes we really enjoyed taking part in this show.We had a lot left to learn for the disease and we got to know about those.We got to know that TB is a spreadable disease and then that there is no fear.If we have any symptoms we should go to the hospital immediately.
Is the public becoming more interested in bengal puppetry than before?
Yes, in the beginning Bengal puppet dance was popular and were previously organised in different puppet camps .Then suddenly in the middle, it was hard to continue because we had to give a high salary to the employees and hence we ran at a loss. In the past, we, as a group used to give donations to the clubs and the clubs used to allow us to stay in the fair and perform the puppet dances in return. Now the situation is slightly better, where the social clubs and matrimonial committees book us for 2-3 days for continuous shows and according to the contract people pay us well. Now , we are much better. Both the labours and owners get reasonable money so now we are running well.
Did you know anything about TB before?
We’ve never done anything on TB or in fact any disease before.We knew about TB vaguely but we never thought to do something like this for the community.
Do you think this project will create awareness amongst the children?
Yes of course, the children don’t know much about the disease! if this project is shown in front of the public it will be very fruitful.We strongly believe this drama or program will create awareness amongst the adult people as well.