Project Kalpana is an artistic endeavour to promote and raise awareness about the art form of Indian puppetry. This cross-cultural project will feature puppeteering artists, (working with the Kayakalp Trust, New Delhi) performing traditional Indian puppetry to western classical and musical theatre works sung by Ms. Maya Bajaj, a final year student at KM Music Conservatory founded by Dr. A.R Rahman. This project aims to bring these art forms together on a shared stage, offering the audience a one-of-a-kind theatrical puppet show. Due to the prevailing health crisis, the show will be pre-recorded and released online in October 2021.
About the Artists
Having been pushed out of their former residence the Kathputli Colony, with big promises of better housing, the puppeteers are struggling to survive. While Covid19 has made work opportunities a rare occurrence, it has not managed to dampen the spirits of these artists, who to this day just wish to perform and stage shows that push their creative limits.
These puppeteering artists have devoted their lives to perfecting their skill and artistry. Developing thematic story lines, a narrative flair, a musical sense and mastery over their puppet, the sutradhaar or one who manipulates the strings, is like a “master of all arts”. The birth place of their artistry - The Kathputli Colony - is a curious amalgam of artists like acrobats, singers, puppeteers, magicians, sword swallowers etc. These artists are experts in their own fields, having been trained from an early age by the elders in their families. Without an audience or performing contracts, today the puppeteers find themselves struggling for survival with minimal and sometimes no support.
Even after having performed at Indian and International events on multiple occasions, the puppeteers are not treated with the same respect as mainstream artists. Existing within the same time and space as social media and OTT platforms, they face insurmountable challenges in their efforts to promote this ancient art form and to keep it alive. As a result of the lockdown, performing contracts have all but disappeared and the puppeteers find themselves living from hand to mouth, struggling for basic amenities.
Performing arts require an environment to flourish and performing artists require a stage. At this time, the puppeteers living in the Kathputli Colony lack both opportunities and a stage to perform.
How can YOU help?
With this project, we are pursuing a unique and experimental approach of traditional Indian puppetry being performed to western classical music which has the potential to open up new and sustainable work avenues for the puppeteering community. We need YOUR help to make this show a possibility. Your contributions will be put to use for the production aspect of this show, the puppeteers’ remuneration and welfare, and to compensate the group of collaborating artists.
We feel that opening this project up to the Milaap community helps us create new ways of experiencing and supporting the arts.
Please contribute any amount that you may deem fit for the cause. We are truly grateful for your help!
Who am I?
Multilingual Vocalist, Recording Artist and Performer
Having learnt Hindustani Classical music (vocals) from the age of seven, Maya Bajaj has been performing ever since. She is currently training in Western Classical music from KM Music Conservatory (KMMC) in Chennai founded by Dr. A.R Rahman, and was awarded Best Performer for the year 2018-19. She has done voice overs and studio recordings all over the country - for schools, independent artists, music albums, commercial cinema etc. She has travelled and resided in over 5 cities in India and has actively been a part of each of the cities’ music scene. Post her bachelors degree in commerce from the coveted Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi, she made her way to Hyderabad’s independent music industry. She was a founding member and lead vocalist for Naadariya (an Indian fusion band), and founder and lead vocalist of Origami (a pop/rock band). She is now in the last year of her diploma studies in music from KMMC, Chennai and has performed around the city for commercial and corporate events.