Who doesn’t like puppetry? The magical art form where the finely cut paper figurines create an intriguing shadow play as the adept hands of the puppeteer pulls the strings. In some cases wooden puppets are used to enact scenes. Now an innovative puppeteer from Kasargod, K V Ramesh and his troupe have adapted a human theatre form Yakshagana to puppet show.
The dying art of string puppet play of Kasargod in North Kerala has taken an interesting combination by incorporating the highly difficult folk art form of Karnataka , the Yakshagana, which is similar to the temple art forms of Kerala like koodiyattam and chakyarkuttu.
In the last few years, the Yakshagana puppet troupes in Kasargod have come down drastically and at present there are only two active troupes including K V Ramesh’s troupe Shri Gopalakrishna Yakshagana Bombeyata Sangha. Typically puppet shows feature stories from epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagawatham where different characters are represented by the colourful costumes of these puppets. Some of the puppets can measure up to 18” in height.
This intricate art form that dates back to over two centuries has become a dying art form for want of puppeteers. Only by infusing fresh themes and creating an interest among the audience can this art form sustain itself. In Yakshagana, the story is narrated through chorus songs to the accompaniment of percussion instruments. The wooden puppets are made to dance and act by a well trained team of men and women to convey a whole range of emotions and passions where the puppets represent a range of characters through their diversely colored costumes. Let us make sure that these ethnic art forms that had been handed down the generations are preserved for posterity.