Inker Robotics, a leading robotics company in India has initiated a first of its kind automation program to preserve the 4000 year old performing art culture, Puppetry. In an attempt to preserve the essence and beauty of a dying art form, so that future generations have an appreciation and can experience the art form as close to the real performance as possible, Inker Robotics has innovatively used technology and automation to successfully replicate the art form of puppetry. The first live model of the automated process in Puppetry is now showcased at the District Heritage Museum in Palakkad, inaugurated by the Kerala State Government Archaeological Department.
With zero compromise on the traditional art form, the automation technology is designed to seamlessly mimic the puppet movements otherwise controlled by skilled hand movements. The soul of puppetry is the skilled hand movements that control the puppets. Played traditionally by Pulavar accompanied with shadow light, sound, and songs. Pulavar is the honourable title given to a scholar and performer who has extensive knowledge of Tholapavakoothu – the Shadow Puppetry of Kerala. A typical performance usually has a group of 7 people managing the puppets in cohesion to produce the narrative.
Commenting on this unique initiative Mr. Rahul P Balachandran, CEO, Inker Robotics said, “The application of automation in trying to revive the art form from dying is one of the many examples that when innovatively used the benefits of automation is transformational. In the middle of a pandemic, a dedicated team of engineers at Inker Robotics have studied this delicate art form along with the Pulavars and worked passionately to bring to life this art form. Utmost focus was placed on ensuring that the fluidity, delicateness, and authenticity of the experience are preserved at the highest level and thereby adding to the complexity of the task. High end coding skills is a must-have for materializing such an idea to perfection.”
In modern times, educationists all over the world have realized the potential of puppetry as a medium for communication and by bringing in such inclusion we can bring back the age old way of interactive communication effectively for kids and there by both preserve the art form and make learning more interesting.
Added Mr. Rahul P Balachandran, “We are confident that this initiative will inspire the upcoming generations as an example and motivation to come forward, learn coding and also understand in which all ways these skills can be adapted to real life applications and hacks .” With the successful implementation of this project, we are confident that this will re-ignite the interest and revive the 4000 year old art form that was part of the folklore and growing up years of millions of children in the country. Thousands of puppet masters who have enthralled and entertained people with their unmatched skills of storytelling using just strings to manipulate the puppets for several generations would appreciate our innovation that retains the authenticity of the original artform.
Puppetry – a Mesmerizing Medium
Puppetry is a genre of theatre that has its origins dating back to thousands of years! Across the globe there are unique stories that explains the origin of this art. It is defined as a unique story telling artform that helped to describe politics, religion, and satire. If China had a history of Chinese legends and folk tales, Indonesia, had religious stories of good vs. evil to showcase. Turkish was more light-hearted, humour based upon the events of everyday life.
In India, Tamil classic, Silappadikaaram, written around 200 BC by the Jain-poet, Ilango Adigal had references of Puppetry. The art form is believed to have originated in India more than 500 years BC Epics and legends where the themes of Indian Puppetry. The Shadow art Puppetry in Kerala known as Nizhalkoothu focused majorly on the ritual aspect of the art. Where as in North India the artform tried to communicate social issues and stigma around like child marriage, poverty, HIV, Aids, dowry, illiteracy etc.
Another significant move is when film industry inspired out of the art of puppetry, Walt Disney created ANIMATRONICS a combination of ROBOTICS TECHNOLOGY and COMPUTERS to create lifelike, moving creatures. Integrating puppetry, anatomy and mechatronics, for the first time in history featured an animatronic bird.