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Puppeteer Anupama Hoskere: Support A Child Event - A Resounding Success

Mona Khaitan

World Class Puppeteer Anupama Hoskere’s performance for Support a Child (SAC) Event- A Resounding Success

In a unique offering at the Chinmaya Mission Boston auditorium, Anupama Hoskere of Dhatu Productions brought alive the first play written by Mahakavi Kalidas (4th century, CE), a classic well-known Sanskrit poet and part of India’s heritage and literary pride, using puppets interacting with a live dancer. Held on Saturday, August 24, the event raised funds to sponsor over 130 children in India.

Support a Child (SAC), a World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) initiative, distinguishes itself in finding and promoting different art forms from India in entertaining its sponsors and guests while raising much needed funds for educating, housing, and supporting underprivileged rural children in India. Boston area normally hosts numerous music, dance, comedy events each year for just plain entertainment as well as for fundraising. This performance was significantly different than the usual music and dance show.

The show began with Purva Ranga Vidhi, a short processional prayer to Lords Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, and Subramanyam that began at the entrance of the hall and ended on the stage with the nataka dedicated to the higher Self not only for a successful performance but for all to experience the inner ananda from it. With that lofty goal, the reaction of the audience indicated that the performance reached its full potential. One of the organizers writes, “My non-Indian friends whom I had invited, kept thanking me and praising the show as they left." All encountered could not contain themselves remarking what an amazing show it was, quite beyond their expectations.

“It was magical.  Next time I will travel 100 miles to attend a Dhaatu Productions' Puppet show," promised an attendee. "Right from opening scene, when the two puppeteers with their two puppets performing, and the energetic yet gracious dancer entered the stage behind a transparent curtain, it felt that we were about to visit a fairyland."

Kalidasa is well known for his play Shakuntala which has been literally translated and plagiarized scores of time by western authors charmed by one of the crown jewels of India. In keeping with the literary genius of the Mahakavi, his first play, a love story between King Agnimitra and Malvika is replete with love, beauty, pining, jealousy, court intrigue, mischief, competition, music and dance, Ashvamedha yajna, Worship, celebrations of Holi and advent of spring with the touching of Ashoka tree to blossom by a pure hearted maiden, dharma and righteousness, war, surprises, intoxication, bribery, and power play in the royal household with the story line ending happily for all concerned. Though written in the fourth century, the audience can fully relate to this amusing and light hearted story, as it seems human nature has changed little since then.

"There were so many wow moments in the show, no wonder Anupama Hoskere has won many international acclaims. “

When the genius of Anupama ji was added to the classic play, the technique of using puppets for storytelling turned into a magical fascinating interaction not only among the characters played by the puppets but the human dancer Malvika. One feels the pining of the King upon seeing an unknown portrait of a beautiful maiden, the court jester being enlisted to find this mysterious maiden, the jester’s underhanded efforts in assisting the king to see the maiden unknown to anyone, the joys of the spring festival, the inebriation of the second queen, the eventual meeting of the King and Malvika, and of course the final discovery that Malvika is not a maid servant after all but a princess fit to marry the King. The audience forgets that puppets are interacting with a live person.

"Fantastic performance by a team which has revived the folk art of string puppets that is sure to delight and entertain today's audience."

The puppets were all hand crafted by Anupama ji and dressed appropriately for their station in life with the right facial expressions. All the character voices were pre-recorded in English suited to the emotion of the character. The skill of puppetry was obvious as a puppet dipped the brush into a clay pot to color Malvika’s feet with alta, which clearly dates and exhibits continuity of this Indian tradition to several thousand years. Here was a sense of awe that we as an audience experienced. A certain joy exuded from all who sat riveted to the performance. There was a sense of connectedness and fullness experienced.

To make your donation, please visit: https://www.supportachildusa.org/donate

Support A Child is a non-profit organization with IRS tax exemption ID number 51-0156325.

VHP of America is a national organization which has among its objectives to unite Hindus by instilling in them devotion to the Hindu way of life, to cultivate self-respect and respect for all people, and to establish contacts with Hindus all over the world. For more information please visit http://www.vhp-america.org/

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