April 2020

Posted by Ranjana Pandey, New Delhi

Puppetry is the art of bringing inanimate material to life. This “performance” will be watched on a digital screen (stage) by a virtual audience in unknown places and spaces. Performance arts, as we have known them, have to re-write their future. This is perhaps a small step in that direction.

The digital premiere of April 2020, a puppet film by Ranjana Pandey

First reactions

“You’ve captured the anguish and strife that has driven perhaps the largest migration in India since partition. It’s never going to be the same again for them, for us, and for the world that surrounds all of us. I pray that service, tolerance and acceptance remain enshrined in the core of our being and allow us to give of ourselves as we are meant to.”

“History will never forget how people were treated by the state during this time, very moving. Made me cry.”

The Director-Puppeteer’s Note

It is a sad, sad time. I had no other way of expressing it. Jan Madhyam has gifted me an uncomfortably deep, close-up of this reality. It is hard not to get overwhelmed. Making this little film and the puppet character was cathartic.

I feel as a communicator and a performer my work is done, if people are able to connect with the emotional impulse I felt.

I work with challenged persons from marginalised sections of society, and I am a puppeteer. This film helped me to combine my concern for the poor migrant disabled street dweller and my art. Like everyone else, I was horrified with the recent events. I too felt helpless. Each one did what they could to reach out, to help. This is what I could do.

At each step of making this character, I felt the deprivation and the anguish of this nameless resident of the cities sidewalk. I have seen so many. I have heard their voices. I wanted to tell their story.

‘He’ is dressed in real rags, thrown socks, discarded tee-shirts, bits of bandage and foam, living on a “jugaad” wheelchair. The objects that spill out of his “potli” are the humble loving gifts he collected from the meagre pennies he had – a nail polish for his sister, a plastic toy for a toddler, flashy shoes.

He sat incomplete for weeks looking out of a window in my home, waiting to come to life …. only to play out his death.

Indian puppeteer, playwright, theatre and television director, and educator. Ranjana Pandey graduated from Delhi University in English Literature, with an MA in Mass Communication and a Diploma in Journalism. She trained in puppetry in Belgium under Theatre Toone, Theatre Tilapin, and Théâtre du Péruchet.

Story image : Author
Video courtesy : Author

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