Sylvester D' Souza / Vinay Pais
Daijiworld Media Network - Kundapur (EP)
Kundapur, March 13: Uppinakudru, an island in the taluk, has been widely known as the hometown of puppets. The name Uppinakudru reminds us of excitingly colorful puppets of Sri Ganesh Yakshagana Puppetry troupe, which has carved out a niche for itself at the state, national, and international levels.
The troupe led by Uppinakudru Bhaskar Kogga Kamath, a group of sixth generation of puppet artistes, has quietly enriched the art of Yakshagana puppetry in the coastal region with the relentless pursuit of excellence by the forefathers of Kamath during the last 350 years. Kamath has sacrificed his bank job for devoting his entire time to this form of art.
It is but natural that the name of Uppinakudru puppet troupe comes to mind whenever one thinks of foreign tours by art troupes from this region. Sri Ganesha puppetry troupe has its own fans and followers all over the world because of entertaining and skillful presentations of the troupe. The puppets that lollopped and danced in a beautiful way have succeeded in developing among its viewers a taste for Yakshagana puppetry, duly leaving a lasting impression in three countries recently visited by the troupe.
The troupe under the leadership of Bhaskar Kogga Kamath had been to Japan's Lida Festival for the third time recently. The uniqueness of the visit was that three artistes in the troupe had gone to Japan ten day ahead of the troupe’s visit to participate in a workshop on Asian Puppetry Show and entertain the audience. Bhaskar Kamath had participated in similar historic presentations in Lida Festival during the last two years and has been appreciated by them. He has upheld the rich folklore culture of India through his puppetry shows.
The troupe then proceeded to Russia. It was their first trip to that country. The troupe successfully presented an episode, 'Choodamani-Lankadahana'. The puppets which came in various costumes and colors and the music that was played in the background were greatly appreciated by the Russian audience through thundering applause. The experience of this visit is bound to linger in the memories of the artistes for long. Their inability to use fire in the programme in view of earlier fire accidents was the only drawback.
The troupe proceeded to Belgium's Brussels from Russia. Bhaskar Kamath's programme was held in a large hall in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, in view of 'Europalia' festival. The large cutouts of Kamath's puppets excited the visitors and enabled to provide the show wide publicity. The 'Choodamani Lankadahana' episode was presented there without the use of fire as per tradition.
The puppet show drew attention of the audience and generated good response. Many people were moved by this art and the show. Some of them showed interest in learning this art form. They were overawed at the composition of this art and the specialty of puppets. Well known puppetry artists from elsewhere were present to view the show. Kamath presented a workshop on Yakshagana puppets and their dance to the children in Belgium that attracted them towards this kind of art.
The troupe’s trip to Russia and Belgium was sponsored by Delhi Indian Council for CulturalRrelations, while the trip to Japan was sponsored by Japan's Puppet Theatre.
Bhaskar Kogga Kamath's dream project, Puppet Academy, is taking shape under the sponsorship of Dr P Dayananda Pai at Uppinakudru. Dr Sudha Murthy of Infosys Foundation has joined hands with the project. If it materializes soon, people from many other countries will be able to appreciate the beauty and specialty of this art. Our united effort is necessary to make this a reality.