Dakshinchithra is one of the cultural hubs in Chennai located in the ECR. The whole Dakshinchithra is kind of a village community where several artisans live and also visit on a regular basis to put up their shows and sell their craft stuff. The whole place is worth a complete blog post about it that would definitely run for about 4-5 parts, but however now I’d just put up about a particular show there which impressed me a lot - The Tolu Bommalatta Show!!!
Tolu Bommalatta is a Telugu term which means Leather Puppet Show. This is a traditional puppet show of Andhra Pradesh, India. This show has its puppets made of painted leather. The leather is treated so well that it is transparent. Traditionally the paint was vegetable and mineral dyes, but these days, glass colors are also used. The point in using glass colors instead of poster or acrylic colors is that the glass colors maintain the transparency of the leather.
The puppets are made in parts. Head, torso, thighs, calves, foot, upper arms, lower arms, palms, are made separately and are held together by small points, so that each part can be separately moved. These parts are individually moved with strings behind a white screen that is back lit. With music beside, the string puppet show creates an amazing dynamic show.
I went there to check out a particular show, which I eventually unfortunately missed. However no much regrets, I was more than happy to meet this lady who was a Tolu Bommalatta artist and her fabulous 10 mins show!!!
The episode that her dolls enacted was from Ramayana. It’s the episode where Vaali & Sukreevan of the Vanara Sena (The Animal Army) were into a fight. Vaali was the evil one and Sukreevan was the good one. The plan was that Lord Rama would kill Vaali in this fight which he eventually could not do, as they were twins and Rama couldn’t not differentiate. So for the second time, Sukreevan called Vaali again for the war, but Sukreevan was wearing a garland this time, so that Rama can differentiate between them, and Rama killed Vaali. The whole story with all the dynamic fight scenes et all it was fabulously well done.
The lady who did this was Kalaimamani.S. Seetha Lakshmi who was in CLRI earlier and now completely has dedicated herself to this art. She was assisted by another lady who is her namesake!!!
TO REACH THERE:
Dakshinchithra is located in Muttukkadu, ECR next to MGM.
From Thiruvanmiyur: 19km on ECR
From Mahabalipuram: 25km on ECR
This Tolu Bommalatta happens in the Tamil Nadu section of Dakshinchithra, 4 times a day.
Ph. No. of Dakshinachithra: (Tuesday Holiday) +91 44 27472603 & 2783
Contact of Ms. Seetha Lakshmi:
Kalaimamani S.Seetha Lakshmi
Director – Indian Puppeteers,
No: 41-A, Vth Lane, Indira Nagar, Adyar, Chennai – 600020
Ph: +91 44 2441 1760; 9840074589