String Puppetry gets a fresh lease of life- A tough one to balance!

String Puppetry gets a fresh lease of life- A tough one to balance!

Nokkuvidhya Pavakalli is an ancient art form of Kerala which is being kept alive and kicking by the 15 year old Renjini in the tiny town of Monipally. This indigenous puppet theatre form has been practiced by Renjini’s ancestors for five generations and theirs is the only family with whom the secret of this unique art lies. Renjini’s grandmother, 78 year old Pankajakshi was the sole surviving person who practiced Nokkuvidhya Pavakalli from the time she was a 12 year old but was unable to continue due to old age and ill-health.

This endangered putter theatre form was in danger of being lost permanently but Pankajakshi convinced her grand-daughter, Renjini to take over from her and taught her the tricks of the trade. In this act, Renjini balances the puppets, which are mounted on a stick, in the space between her upper lip and nose and pulls the attached strings to move their arms and legs.

Renjini is a student in Standard X and practices on a regular basis, while her brother helps her to maintain the puppets which were made by their grandfather about 30 years ago. The audience is able to enjoy thrilling stories from the Ramayan and the Mahabharat while they are unfolded in front of their eyes by the only practising artist of this art in the entire world.

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