Puppets voicing Kahaaniyan: Bringing Storytelling to Life

By Shaambhavi Pathak, based on The Kahaani Festival

“Generally  speaking, all the children’s stories make promises to their readers. Here you are, they say, unhandy and short, and there is a big world that one day will be yours. Listen to how it happened for Cinderella once upon a time, and Jack and his beanstalk and Aladdin with his lamp.” – John Goldthwaite

As a child, I loved stories. Whether it was my grandmother reciting them to me, or me nagging my mother to concoct one before naptime, part of the inner bookworm in me owes my love for literature to stories. That was the golden era. Neither were my parents too engaged in their careers, nor did I ever not get to go to my Grandparents’ house during vacations. Summer evenings under the hand operated fans, or inside the quilt which smelled like my nani during winters, all I wanted after dinner was to sleep, dreaming of faraway lands with beautiful princesses and charming, young princes. Needless to say, most of these stories are still etched in my memory. Some pieces have crumbled, but I can still pick the others and add a dollop of my own imagination to re-recite.

Today, the generations of both parents and their young ones are in hurry; hurry to reach atop their careers, in the hurry to grow up and in the hurry to get through life. There is no time for storytellers and their altered vistas to dab splashes of colors across the minds of their kids. Our dynamic, fast paced world has certainly broadened but our minds have sadly become short on imagination and creativity. We are stalled in this endless circle of bread and butter. We forget one thing though, the bread and butter were also the results of someone’s creativity. Just out of sheer curiosity, some farmer someday baked a few grains of wheat and decided to churn butter.

Surprising, but nearly every innovation is the result of someone’s imagination. Necessity might be the mother but imagination is the fuel which brings forth the innovation. The need of the hour is to inculcate this trait in our younger generation. For until, the mind does not imagine, the genius is not recognized.

The Kahaani Festival, aims to revive this age old tradition of storytelling. The concept is the same; approach, slightly altered. While the olden days saw me dropping my jaw as my grandmother became the evil queen in one minute and transformed into the kind giant the other second, kids today need more than this to retain. With the altered approach, the art of Storytelling now involves music, dance, puppetry and theatre intertwined within one another to reignite the love for stories and to reimagine the art of storytelling.

The Festival is produced by Teamwork Arts and keeps travelling across India with an interesting palette of storytellers and their stories from all around the world. Beyond the oral recitations, the festival also provides artists with unique styles a platform to showcase their art.

The 2015 edition of Kahaani saw the children from Mahabaleshwar, Gurgaon, Jaipur and Udaipur letting their imagination soar. With workshops, classes and techniques focusing on narration, animation, writing, puppet and cartoon making, acapella, dance and illustration, the festival featured niche artists like Tom Alter, Jeeva Raghunath, Jerry Pinto and was well received.

This initiative by Teamwork Arts, is commendable. While one session is not sufficient, but this is bound to awake the sleepy imagination of the kids today. Even if a few out of all the kids reached realize their creative streaks, the efforts will be worth more than one can hope for!

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