Time to institutionalise puppetry: Dadi Pudumjee

The master puppeteer who gave life to mammoth puppets besides song and dance sequences in modern puppetry, is back with a one-of-its-kind exhibition detailing the journey of Zorastrianism, considered among the oldest religions in the world.

Sangeet Natak Academi award winner, Dadi Pudumjee is one of the curators of the ‘Everlasting Flame International’ exhibition, being held at premier cultural institutes in the capital under Humari Dharohar scheme in collaboration with Culture Ministry and city based Parzor Foundation.

Pudumjee, an established name in the world of puppetry has designed Amesha Spenta- a class of divine entities in Zorastrianism for the ‘Threads of Continuity’ exhibition on show presently at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts here.

“My creation represents the six immortal elements of air, water, earth, fire, metal and human mind. Amesha Spenta in Zorastrianism represent the duality of life i.E. The existence of good and evil. It talks about the dilemma we face when we have to choose sides in life,” he says.

The Padma Shri awardee who is credited with giving a modern twist to puppetry by incorporating life size puppets, music, text etal in his shows, feels that puppetry is no more bound to children and it is time to institutionalise the craft.

“Puppetry today has evolved into a more universal entity, both in terms of its audience and the themes it touches upon. It is gradually becoming a potent tool to address social issues. It is not just kids’ entertainment any more.

“People are interested in learning this craft. A lot of puppeteers and enthusiasts have expressed interest in institutionalising the art,” he says.
Pudumjee, President of UNIMA, the world puppet

organisation says that as part of the ‘Master Class’ initiative by the global body, efforts are on to deliberate upon the feasibility of teaching puppetry.

“We are deliberating upon how puppetry can be taught as a discipline. The idea is not to look at puppetry as just a performance. It is a conversation with your audience,” he says.

Coming back to the exhibition, Pudumjee says the whole idea was to chronicle the history of Parsis in India and abroad.

“Our knowledge of Parsis is often restricted to few Bollywood characters and half baked knowledge about the community. The whole exhibition thing began with the question ‘Ye Parsi kya cheez hai’,” he quips.

“Although there are many Parsi settlements in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, their number is quite small in Delhi. The exhibition has opened an interesting dialogue about the Parsi culture and their contribution to various fields,” he says.

Pudumjee, who is also known for creating the visually stunning puppets in the ‘Bismil’ song in Bollywood flick ‘Haider’, says that he is game for more such offers from the film industry.

Published on Business Standard