Saturday, March 20, 2010

Putul Naach(Puppet Theatre) of Nadia

West Bengal had a strong tradition in this type of puppetry. In Nadia distrtict rod-puppets used to be of human size. This form is now almost extinct, and that which survives uses puppets of about 31/2 t o 4 feet in height. usually they have 3 joints. The head is jointed at the neck and both hands at the shoulders. Only a few figures, such as dancers, have joints also at the elbows. The technique of manipulation is interesting. A bamboo-made hub is firmly tied to the waist of the puppeteer. On this hub the rod that supports the puppet figure is placed. The puppeteers, each holding a puppet, stand behind a head-high curtain. Usually mats made of bamboo or a special kind of tall grass are used as the curtain. While manipulating the rods attached to the head and hands, the puppeteers also move and dance, imparting corresponding movements to the puppets.
Simultaneously, they sing and deliver prose dialogue in a stylized recitative manner, each for the stage provide the accompanying music with a harmonium, drums and cymbals. The music, style of delivering the dialogues, costumes which the puppets wear, all have a close similarity with Bengalee Jatra, the most popular,vital and fascinating of folk theatre prevalent in the state. It is evident that there has been a continuous exchange between Putul-nach and Bengalee Jatra. There are about a dozen plays in the traditional repertoire of Putul-nach. Most ancient of them are, perhaps, the plays based on Ramayana. The other plays, such as Satee Behula, are based on legends of which a few are peculiar to Bengal and are favourites of Jatra theatre as well. Some puppets fascinate the audience because they are so ingenuously articulated. Rod puppets of West Bengal do not come under this category. Their appeal depends not on manipulating dexterity
but on the histrionic talent of the puppeteers.
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