Telling Stories With Fingers

Shreedevi Sunil at the event

Shreedevi Sunil at the event

Established puppeteer and storyteller Shreedevi Sunil engages with students in her unique style at fun-filled Muskaan event

The need to tell stories is intrinsic to human existence. Storytelling is an art that assumes different forms: oral, visual, tactile or written. Puppetry is a performative form of storytelling where inanimate objects, such as hand puppets, finger puppets, marionettes, string puppets, and various other types of puppets, are presented as living, performing entities. This is an art whose origin dates back several thousands of years, and India also boasts a long tradition of puppetry. Shreedevi Sunil, an established puppeteer and storyteller, has redefined this art and seeks to initiate today’s youth to it. Prabha Khaitan Foundation and Education For All Trust organised a session of Muskaan with Sunil in Indian Museum, Kolkata.

Sunil, who came from Mumbai to share the joy puppetry brings her among children, said, “Puppetry is a wonderful way to engage, express, and entertain audiences. It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to present this interactive session to the children from Muskaan.” This joint initiative, Muskaan, seeks to promote skill development among children through webinars, courses and workshops, and integrate into formal and informal education systems studies of the arts and cultures. It also assists and encourages underprivileged children by providing them with paraphernalia for education and nutritious food, among other things. As a part of this venture, it was heartening to see around 70 children from local NGOs gather in this session to learn about and enjoy Sunil’s brilliant puppetry. She weaved a beautiful story through her fingers that the children thoroughly loved. She also helped children make their finger puppets with paper, leaving them beaming happily.

“Puppetry is a wonderful way to engage, express, and entertain audiences.”

The Indian Museum is a landmark on the cultural map of the country. Arijit Dutta Choudhury, the Director of the Indian Museum, highlighted the significance of having a session like this in the museum. He expounded, “The Indian Museum is a cultural enterprise. It promotes the tangible and intangible heritages of India, strengthening its artistic, cultural and historical importance. Indian puppetry is one of the primary forms of traditional entertainment. It was a pleasure collaborating with Muskaan for the marginalised children from various parts of the city to promote and preserve this traditional form of entertainment, and convey a message on moral values.” The children in attendance delighted in the interactive performance, and were thereafter, treated to a sumptuous lunch. Events like this live up to the promise of upholding various cultural artefacts of the nation before the younger generations.

Muskaan is a joint initiative of Prabha Khaitan Foundation and Education for All, and supported by Shree Cement Limited as their CSR initiative.