Life & Style

Trash powers these puppets

Puppeteer Preeti Golacha

Puppeteer Preeti Golacha   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

The Kachra Collective is an initiative to make art relevant and meaningful

Plastic bottles, wrappers, old newspapers and torn clothes are a common sight at most open landfills and garbage dumps. Yet this ‘kachra’ can be a tool of change, believes Preeti Golacha. Preeti has put this trash to use in her ‘The Kachra Collective’, an initiative that combines art and garbage recycling. The initiative is set to be launched on October 2, when the ban on single-use plastic comes to effect. It was a conscious decision to launch the project on the day signifying change.

Recycling material used for puppet workshop

Recycling material used for puppet workshop   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

The Kachra Collective is an initiative of young actor and puppeteer Preeti and her partner Rana Prathap Avuti, a filmmaker. As the duo started it to pursue work in puppetry, films and theatre, the Collective takes off with an introductory workshop in puppet theatre for toddlers and teenagers at her studio in Banjara Hills. The session introduces participants to basics of puppet making, puppet manipulation and elements of theatre. So where does garbage come in? Preeti explains, “I try to work with various recyclable materials like plastic bottles, old newspapers and notebook covers. I scramble to source these materials from raddiwalas (scrap dealers) and rag pickers.” She aims to bring growth to the form. “I want to explore its essence and how it can translate into a relevant kind of art form so that more people engage with puppets in a meaningful way,” she adds.

A pile of old fabrics created for a play

A pile of old fabrics created for a play   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

The idea of how to deal with kachra has been on Preeti’s mind for long. “Nobody can escape kachra. We see this trash atop mountains, on roads, in lakes and oceans, houses, gardens and also in our hearts and minds,” she rues.

Her inspiration to script a puppet show based on kachra came when she was doing a puppetry course in Crafts Museum in Delhi. On her first day at class, she wore a string sh had found near the museum. “We worked with different materials and I would add the leftover pieces of wood and other materials to this string; then it became a mala (garland) around my neck,” she says adding her classmate would term a big dump yard behind the Crafts Museum as a ‘Garbage garden’, a phrase that sounded ‘awful and wonderful’! Preeti scripted her first play Material Mala that was staged as part of the puppet course. The 30-minute play had a giant set, a 15feet long cloth made of gunny bags and scrap material collected from different tailors. “The narrative shows a rag picker Mala who makes valuables out of the trash. Even in trash, there is a hierarchy and this rag picker makes little toys out of trash, which come to life,” she says. Preeti is now reworking the play to stage it in Delhi at Studio Safdar and then at Dramebaaz theatre festival on October 10. “The play has undergone some changes and the audience will see a puppet in the avatar of rag picker Mala. We have to only make her look dressy,” she says.

‘A more sustainable life’

Preeti hopes to merge waste management with her art to create meaningful productions. When we ask her why waste, she retorts, “Why not?” “I want to see how we can optimise the waste that comes everyday and talk about it in my workshops as well. Many of our kids are not aware of the carbon footprint of their lives,” Her family was instrumental in making her realise how small changes can have a big impact. “My grandfather and sisters were particular about simple things like switching off lights or turning off the tap while brushing teeth. As a child, I found it unnecessary and had a casual approach. Growing up and reading about the stuff that is going on in the world makes you realise the importance of these small things. My sisters lead a more sustainable life.”

Actor, puppeteer Preeti Golacha

Actor, puppeteer Preeti Golacha   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

She calls the ban on single-use plastic as good news with a bigger impact. “I had been to Coimbatore, an eco-friendly city where the single use plastic is not used. Even the pani puri walas use eco-friendly cups to serve paani. In fact, single use plastic is banned in Tamil Nadu. There is hope if the the entire country takes up this initiative.”

As an independent artist, manpower is a challenge in tiem intensive puppetry . “I just feel like a kid singing, ‘I have a company I am doing it and is a lot of fun’ but there are many things that need to be worked for me to get there professionally.”

She is happy with the art scene in Hyderabad. “It has been an upward journey for artistes in the city.”

(To donate old toys and clothes to The Kachra Collective, get in touch with thekachracollective@gmail.com)

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 4:37:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/preeti-golacha-and-rana-prathap-avuti-launch-the-kachra-collective-pursue-work-in-puppetry-films-and-theatre/article29573201.ece

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