Playwright: Anamika Mishra
Director: Anurupa Roy
Language: Hindi/ English / Kannada
Duration: 1 hr 10 min
“Human beings are born for peace; they like to grow up in peace. They like to raise their children in peace, and they like to say goodbye to this beautiful life in peace. Then why are we always preparing for war?”
This seems to be the central dilemma of the Mahabharata. When we block ourselves to other points of view, narrowing down our worlds to our own version of justice, are we headed for war? When each person traps himself within one motive and their version of status quo, are we primed to kill and die? When the characters of the Mahabharata begin to wage their personal wars, closing themselves to the consequences of their actions, things snowball into an apocalypse. Our Mahabharata explores the inner dilemmas of fifteen characters in the play through a stream of consciousness narrative of their past and present motives. Does each character’s single minded and unquestioning loyalty to one belief system lead to the inevitable conflict? Was there ever a moment when each of these characters could have averted war by choosing differently? Or are we doomed to make the same choices eternally?
This performance with puppets, masks, shadow puppets and materials looks at the Mahabharata as a dynamic narrative which has evolved over a few thousand years through the sung verses of Togalu Gombeyatta’s Sillakeyata Mahabharta and remains relevant in the new search of contemporary puppeteers. The story itself is increasingly relevant in the polarized conflict ridden world of today. The characters then become archetypes for conflicts small and large whether in world politics or the family or community and the narrative is an over arching metaphor for many political, institutional, social situations in the world today. But our central question is what could have averted the Apocalyptic Mahabharata war. What choices could each character have altered? And what choices can each one of us alter? What fixed believes must be question and let go of to prevent such a war in the future. Can we start by acknowledging that none will survive such a war and thus it must be prevented?
Anurupa Roy is a puppeteer and puppet director. She has a diploma in puppet theatre from Dramatiska Institute, University of Stockholm (2001) and has trained under Bruno Leone at the Scoul Della Guaratelle in Naples, Italy. She is the Founder/ Managing trustee of the Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust.
Anamika Mishra has a Masters Degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi. She has worked for NDTV’s ‘Gustakhi Maaf’ or Double Take, puppet theatre satire on the channel. She has worked as both producer and writer. She has been a puppeteer with Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust from 2000-2003 as a puppeteer and script writer. Currently, she works as a freelance content writer, script writer and dramaturg. She has worked on the Mahabharata performance as a researcher, writer and dramaturge.
The Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust started as a small group of puppeteers and was founded by Anurupa Roy in1998 in New Delhi. Today it is a cultural trust, registered in 2006, that works more as an ensemble company with puppeteers, dancers, actors, etc. The group has over 16 productions ranging from Shakespearean comedies, The Ramayana, shows on global warming and historical manuscripts like the Humayun-Nama, and experimental material-theatre using just newspapers to create visuals. The main focus of the group is to create performances with puppets or animate material, to train professional puppeteers, and explore the possibilities of using puppets beyond stage performances.
Cast & Credits
Puppeteers: Vivek Kumar, Mohammad Shameem, Anurupa Roy, Avinash Kumar, Gunduraju
Original Music Score: Suchet Malhotra
Animation: Atul Sinha
Puppet Design & Construction: Mohammad Shameem
Shadow Puppets: S. Chidambara Rao
Choreography: Avinash Kumar
Shadow Puppets & Script Advice: Gunduraju
Shadow Puppet Construction: S. Chidambara Rao
Light Design: Milind Shrivastav
Script Anamika Mishra
Design, Concept & Direction Anurupa Roy
Ms. Anurupa Roy
The Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust
108 Siddharth Enclave,
Ashram Chowk, New Delhi - 110014
M: +91 9810511360