This multi-award-winning documentary by filmmaker Odia about the forgotten puppeteers of Odisha w- Edexlive

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It started out as a research project until it wasn’t anymore. In the minds of several national winners Lipika Singh Darai, it had already become a movie – a project she would spend years and years on. In the wings is the name of the 85 minute film Odia with English subtitles that focuses on the four faded art puppet forms of Odisha and it has previously premiered at the Asolo Art Film Festival August 23, 2021.

Lipika Singh Darai

With Lipika’s very first film, which was an FTII project, Garoud, she received the National Award for Sound Recording, but the Baripada-born filmmaker had no idea a slew of National Awards were coming to her. His first documentary A tree, a man, a sea won him the Best Debut Award and the list is honestly too long. After working as a freelance sound taker in Mumbai for about a year and a half, she returned to her own state to work on Odia language films in 2012.


His other films to win National Awards are Dragonfly and Snake and The waterfall


That same year, cinematographer Indraneel Lahiri was in the field for in-depth puppet research, supported by the National Folklore Support Center in Chennai. Since Lipika, a former student of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), is from the same industry and circle, she followed. “When I was recording performances, I couldn’t help but think about how it would play out in the form of a movie,” said the 36-year-old. A Rs 13 lakh grant from the Films Division Of India in 2016 really set things in motion and it was the game for the film that focused on four forms of puppet – rod, string, glove and shadow.

Maguni Charan Kuanr

From a seasoned journalist, the duo discovered rod puppeteer Maguni Charan Kuanr in Keonjhar. “He’s so popular that everyone knows where he lives. The wealth of knowledge possessed by this young person of 80 years and older of 18 years is such that we made him a research collaborator. the art form and we have been fortunate enough to work with him for over five to six years and really got to know him, ”recalls the director of Odia wistfully. The exploration of shadow puppets or Ravan Chhaya took them to Angul district, string puppets to Ganjam and hand puppets to Kendrapara. “Most of the art forms were developed by those who came from the lower strata of society, nomads who would never stay in one place. If you ask them where they learned the art form, they say that They were taught by their great-grandfather or some other, I don’t know where it came from, ”the filmmaker says with insight.

The years 2017-2018 were devoted to the filming of the film which ended in 2019, then followed the long pandemic hiatus. In between, Lipika was juggling various projects and was able to quickly focus on this film again. She is in no rush to release the film anywhere as it has to tour the festival first. So for now, she’s working on the development of a documentary and working on her first fictional film.

To watch trailers for his other works, visit bit.ly/3nk9Wqe

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