Healing lives with the magic of muppetry

art for cause
Last Updated : 23 September 2016, 18:38 IST
Last Updated : 23 September 2016, 18:38 IST

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Many of us, irrespective of age, enjoyed watching Galli Galli Sim Sim, the children’s television show inspired by its American counterpart, Sesame Street, that featured muppets.

The adventures of Boombah, Aanchoo, Googly and the gang, as they went around meeting people and learning things, kept the young-at-heart among us entertained.

Among the many interesting characters in the show was Chamki, the muppet who advocated the importance of girl child education. Ghazal Javed, the muppeteer behind the portrayal of Chamki, talks to us about the show that marked her foray into television and her decade-long tryst with the art form.


Ghazal graduated from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University in History Honors. “During college, I was a member of the fine arts association, choreography team and the dramatics society. I independently contested the student union elections and was the only girl candidate in 36 years of the institution who stood independently and won.”

Being a girl from a small town she admits that she learnt that life was tough early on.
“When I came to Delhi, I learnt that the world is meaner to you if you are a Muslim girl. But I have always fought it out. The more people raised their eyebrows, the more I raised my voice,” Ghazal says.

The artiste had a happy childhood. “I was never told not to do something. I was always encouraged to see things for myself, while being taught a strong sense of right and wrong. After my father died in an accident when I was 13, my mother emerged as the strongest woman in my life,” she recalls.

Career calling

Ghazal realised that financial independence can solve a lot of social problems and started working during her college days. “My first job was with UNIFEM as a writer on a project against domestic violence. I worked with NGOs like Mamta and Naaz.”

When she was in the second year of college, she accompanied a friend to a few auditions. “I was there just for moral support, and before I knew it I had been selected. I later got to know that the auditions were for a children’s television show. The character I was selected for (out of 5,000 applicants) was that of a five-year- old girl Chamki, who loves going to school and is a mascot for gender equality.”

“I had never done puppetry before. I was just 19 and it was so new and exciting. I’ve learned and developed and honed my skills of muppetry over the years. It was like fate had chosen me,” Ghazal gushes.

Theatre workshops

Ghazal also conducts puppetry and theatre workshops in the conflict areas of Jammu and Kashmir. The Borderless World Foundation, run by Adhik Kadam, works in Jammu and Kashmir with orphaned young girls. It has homes in three districts of Kashmir (Anantnag, Beerwah and Kupwara) and one in Jammu.

“I stay with these girls for almost a month every year. Each house has about 70-150 girls and most of them suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but there are no psychologists or therapists to help them,” she says.

Ghazal’s workshops give a voice to these children’s emotions of anger, anguish, remorse and fear. It helps them become confident. “I think puppetry is a blessing and if I am able to use it to help others, I am doing my bit for the world,” she adds.

Chamki has inspired Ghazal to simplify problems, eliminate fear and be resilient. “I want to live a happy life and keep doing things that make me happy,” she concludes.

Published 23 September 2016, 16:25 IST

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