In conversation with IP Singh, a puppeteer from Delhi

(IP Singh has been the associate producer for the shows on NDTV that use puppets; like Gustakhi Maaf, The Great Indian Tamasha, Double take, etc. He’s also a part of the band Menwhopause)

Q: FOR HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INTO PUPPETRY ??

Close to 11 years now. I started off when, as a part of the NGO Pravah, I was in Tilonia with a communication resource team and working basically on health and education issues. I was making music for them, alongside making and manipulating puppets. After that, I joined Katkatha, but initially I was only giving music. I went on to train under and work with Anurupa (Roy) in her shows and with Dadi Pudumjee and his group Ishara. I worked for the first time with puppets in television with Ranjana Pandey for Khullam Khulla. Meanwhile I got plenty of opportunities to travel abroad for the shows (went to Pakistan with Katkatha, etc); got to learn about different types of puppetry (learnt Indonesian shadow puppetry Wayang Kulit though a person in the embassy); worked with Puran Bhatt, Varun Narain, Karen Smith from Australia, etc and did some really cool things with puppetry.

Q: WHAT ABOUT PUPPETRY INTERESTS YOU ??

Puppets are the heights of imagination, and for the amount of creativity involved, puppets fascinate me. I love the idea of being invisible and yet being the storyteller. Also, when you see other puppetry forms, you tend to get all the more interested in it. I really like Indonesian shadow puppets and Bunraku style of puppetry. I have my own style of cutting shadow puppets, partly inspired by Indonesian puppets. However, more than stage puppetry performances, it is the television that interests me. I love making puppets for television and experimenting with lights and sets and other technical aspects while manipulating. Puppetry on television is more refined because people watch it so closely, and for that reason, the puppetry to be flawless.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO AT NDTV

I’m the associate producer for all shows that use puppets, both on the Hindi and English channel. I also overlook sets and light design, etc I also manipulate and have trained close to 12 puppeteers who work with us on the show now. We use such different and unique puppets and themes that I don’t think any channel now is doing any work that’s closely related to our work. Though political satire is not a new concept, our style and theme is unique. Each show has a sound script, is practiced often and has a systematic organizational structure to it. That’s the reason its quality work.

Q: SINCE YOU ARE ASSOCIATED WITH SOME CAUSES AND ARE A PART OF A BAND ALONG WITH BEING A PUPPETEER, HAVE YOU DONE A LOT OF INTERESTING COLLABORATIONS ??

Some of my collaborations have been very interesting. Once our band Men who pause had done a concept based concert for which we had shadow puppets as visuals in the background. There has been different work, like I used puppets for wildlife videos we made for ‘Earth Matters’, and collaborated with a friend for ‘Pink Bloom’. In fact , once for a protest on Bhopal gas tragedy I even went to the extent of making a huge Advani puppet!