Kathputli, or the puppeteer show of Rajasthan, is one of the most eminent elements of the state’s culture. Any Rajasthani cultural exhibition or fair without the Kathputli Theater is simply incomplete. With such a great significance, it would not be wrong to consider it as an eternal symbolic part of Rajasthan.
Though the importance of Kathputli is mostly because of its association with the tradition, it would be absolutely wrong to limit its scope just to that. It is the major source of income for many of the Bhat people who had decided to go with their traditional occupation. Indeed, the very origin of Kathputli dance is linked with the Bhat community, who claim to have invented the art some thousands of years ago for the entertainment of royal families. Evidently, it is no more just a part of the royal entertainment. In present days, the scope of Kathputli has blossomed to its full scale and has its own well-known identity across the globe.
Initially, the Kathputli Theater was used to portray the acts of valor of the warriors and rulers, but gradually it became a major source of awareness among the local folks. For a long time, the prime genre of Kathputli theaters was to create awareness about the social issues like dowry, cleanliness, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and women’s empowerment. Even now the genre exists, but it is a largely overshadowed by the sheer amusement factor.
The classical Kathputli shows are based on ballads that are sung by performers while demonstrating the show. It creates a harmonizing effect of background music making those ballads sound like fitting soundtracks. These said soundtracks often involve conversational dialogues that are further demonstrated by salient gestures of the puppets. Another important feature of Kathputli is the addition of unfailing humor, which makes the show all the more appealing. In fact, perhaps, this is the reason why the patronage for the art is increasing even now.
In any case, it is always amusing to see brightly colored puppets dancing on stage in quirky steps, making squeaky noises. No wonder, despite being a primeval art, Kathputli is still capable of stealing any show. Want to catch a glimpse of a regular Kathputli show, see this video here.