Celebrating the centenary of a puppet

Century-Old Puppet:The Padhye family celebrates the 100th birthday of Ardhavataro.— Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury  

He came, he saw and he celebrated his 100th birthday with the cheering crowd!

One of India’s most celebrated puppets, Ardhavatrao, also known as Mr. Crazy, made famous all over the world by Mumbai-based ventriloquist Ramdas Padhye and his family - scored a century this year.

Ardhavatrao became a household name thanks to Doordarshan, when Mr. Padhye, along with his wife Aparna and Mr. Crazy’s better half Avadabai, performed shows on television. If that was just the start, the Padhye family then took their skill in puppetry and ventriloquism global by performing more than 9,800 shows across the world. But Ardhavatrao’s story dates back to the time of World War I and the year 1916.

“My father Yashvant Padhye was a magician. He was intrigued and thrilled by performance of a ventriloquist from England and thought of trying his hand at it. Trying to add a new dimension to his existing art of magic, he conceived a puppet character on paper in mid-1916 and thus was born Mr. Crazy,” said Mr. Padhye.

However, Prof. Yashvant Padhye could bring alive the character only with the help of masks made by him as ventriloquial dummies were not easily available then in India.

Finally bringing the dummies from England, he began stage shows and by creating the entire family of Ardhavatrao.

Following his death in 1967, Mr. Padhye took over the reins and further added new dimensions of the character of Ardhavatrao.

Since then he has travelled the world, performed on television channels across the planet, introduced the puppet in Indian cinema and has ensured that the legacy of his father continues with the next generation.

For 100 years, Mr. Crazy remains identical to his original design, only changes being in his costume and make-up.

“It never felt necessary to change anything. The character has touched a chord with the audiences worldwide and I am sure that he will continue to live for next 100 years as well,” said Mr. Padhye’s son Satyajit, who despite being a Chartered Accountant by profession has chosen ventriloquism as his career.

Not only Satyajit, his wife Rujuta, younger brother Parikshit also have come together with the Padhye couple to celebrate the centenary year of this puppet character in a special show titled Carry on Entertainment - Ramdas Padhye Live to be staged across the globe.

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