Love, with strings attached

A white screen, about 4x6 feet, is tied to two metal poles at a height of three feet from the ground. A group of puppeteers and musicians sits behind it, hidden by a curtain that is hung from the screen. The performers hold up flat leather puppets against a light bulb and the shadow play begins.

It looks like sunrise as the puppets gradually appear on the ‘horizon’, being raised from below the stage by the puppeteers on the other side. There is a clash of cymbals; the harmonium matches the beats of the mridangam; the daskathi, two wooden sticks held in the palm, does a constant clackety-clack. The singing is sometimes euphoric, sometimes pleading, sometimes heroic, as befits the characters.

Hanuman comes to the rescue of Sita in Lanka and is confronted by the demon-like Lanka Devi. In this black-and-white battle of good and evil, the latter must inevitably be defeated: there is raucous, victorious laughter as the demons fall in a trembling heap.

I feel like I have been watching scenes from my unconscious. I remember Gouranga Charan Dash, the retired head of the Odia department in Cuttack’s Ravenshaw College.....Read more


Source web page:The Hindu

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