Relating their side of the story, creatively

Kathputli Colony

Perched atop open terraces, boundary walls, mounds of bricks and wherever else they could find space, the inhabitants of Kathputli Colony in West Delhi gathered at the MCD ground to cheer their very own performers.

Amidst the sounds of appreciation, as we moved to the performance ground in the colony, Metrolife knew it wasn’t a usual event in the capital. The frills of a cultural performance, set inside the closed confines of one of the cultural centres in the city, had been replaced by their own open-sky colony ground that served as the scene for action. Set against a bright cane-Indian flag background, contemporary dancers, singers, magicians and acrobats dazzled the audience, ending their performance on the emphatic note that they did not want
their colony to be razed to
the ground.

The striking thing about these acts was that the Kathputli Colony Weekend had been organised by young people from the artists community who took it upon themselves to dispel the myth that they did not want to continue in their professions. In fact, they showed us how they have taken their traditional arts forward by incorporating contemporary practices in it. A contemporary dance act Rise: Why not us, a children’s play about the colony’s history, a special qawwali mehfil on the rooftop and heritage walk inside the colony were few of the highlights of the weekend fiesta.

When 18-year old Maya showcased her acrobatic genius, she flamboyantly rejected the notion that young women shouldn’t perform and she came across as a confident youth representative from her community. Placing a glass on her forehead, she bent and manoeuvred her body to perform gymnastics, without a hiccup in her act. A group of children, popular for their stint at the show Satyamev Jayate, produced sounds through body movements. Not only youngsters, the young and the wise both took to the stage to enamour the audience with a rich diversity of their talents.

A 70-year-old qawwali singer Bhagwan Das told Metrolife, “It’s not the first time we have come together to perform in this way. But the burning desire to save our colony has helped us to perform even more enthusiastically. If through our talent, we can communicate our message to the outside world-- all of you who do not know about our tradition of puppetry and performing arts-- how we have lived here in the colony for the last 50 years, it will solve our purpose.” Resonating the mood at the fest, he left us with a qalaam from his performance, Humne mehtaab pe barf jami dekhi dekhi he, tumne dekhe nahi rote hue ansoo lekin, humne rote hue hothon pe hasi
dekhi hai.

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