Bunraku is a traditional puppet theatre of Japan. It started as popular entertainment for the commoners during the EDO Period, in Osaka, and gradually evolved into an artistic theatre during the late 17th century. Along with noh and kabuki it is recognised as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.

The Bunraku group from Japan presented a lecture-demonstration of its prowess at the National School of Drama’s main auditorium, Abhimanch recently. The particularly difficult task for the puppeteers here is the operation of each puppet by three people who together hold it up. The co-ordination of timing demanded to portray each movement is phenomenal, requiring dedicated practice.

Three people seated at right onstage provide vocal and instrumental support to the puppets. The voices demonstrated were laughter, tears, wailing, ranging from renditions as a young girl, a middle aged housewife, an old woman; shyness, coyness, anger, mirth and so on. The voice quality is typical, and specific to this form of performance. The lecture was translated with effortless and impressive fluency, from Japanese to English by senior translator Neeru Dhall.

The performance was called Watch Tower Scene from the Red-Hot Love of the Greengrocer&’s Daughter, where she is shown climbing up the stairs of a watch-tower to raise an alarm to save her lover. With three people operating the puppet limb to limb, the smoothness of the climb drew thunderous applause.

Demonstrated were advanced puppet heads with knobs behind, to make eye movements and facial expressions. Puppeteers of Indian group Katkatha were invited to hold and manipulate the Japanese puppets, managing commendably for a one-time run. All in all, the evening was a great eye-opener to the making and performance in puppetry.

Dhara Mehrotra’s is a single collage installation in pink and white at the Art Junction gallery atop the Lalit Hotel on Barakhamba Road. Dhara&’s draws her vocabulary from nature, weaving its motifs piece by piece, into a fine tapestry of images, well crafted into works of art.

Random splashes, clusters and sprinklings form her current oeuvre, with Raphsody II as her single, brilliant entry, standing out among the group of talented young artists showing at Art Junction.

Dhara’s commune with nature is deep and intimate at both the visual and the inspirational levels, also personal, and not fully comprehensible to the viewer, as in saying, "the inter-realtion between space and things to outgrow the notion of isolated consciousness…" one might ask, can consciousnesss ever really be "isolated" at any point? The concentration on The One to the exclusion of all else is the focus of meditation. Dhara seems to be close, because each one finds his/her inspiration from different sources and manifestations of the life force Rs be it a flower, a dragonfly or a dandellion. Undisputedly of course, her connect with nature is deep and meditative, like her text book for life and art. Hers is a quest "to explore a constant and utopian relationship with nature, environment and aspects of the world around us".