Long before there were movies, before television, before there were even printed books, there were puppets. They amused both the nobility and the common folk, and were used in many different countries. In Rajasthan, India, folk in farming communities give puppet shows in the evening after the work is done. The puppets are each a work of art – carved wooden dolls that are dressed in elaborate fabric costumes. They are technically marionettes because the figures are jointed and manipulated with strings. But in this modern age of television, Internet and cell phones, could this ancient art be lost?
Adnan Hussain would like to make sure this doesn’t happen. He plans to combine the poetry of Shah Latif with the exquisite Rajasthani puppets to create a feature length film that will be called “Risalo”. This is a shortened form of “Shah Jo Risalo” or the Poetry of Shah. The films soundtrack will be played by Pakistani musicians, using traditional instruments – an extension of his idea of preserving traditional art forms.
As part of Mad Guru productions, he has already created one short video called Gul (which means Flower) about a little robot girl who loves to play. Gul is an excellent example of wordless story telling backed by traditional music. The music is played by Sindhi Jogis (Snake Charmers) who would look at black and white drafts of the work in progress and play suitable music to go with the story. Adnan started Gul when he was a student and spent 9 years creating it. Gul won at the Canada Film Festival Rising Star Award of Excellence and also received the The Accolade Film Award of Merit. He has also done detail work for longer pieces, such as the cloth and hair on Smurfs.
Risalo would combine the ancient art of Kathputli (Kath = wood; putli = doll) with animation and style staging. The production would showcase the skills of the puppeteers, providing a set to highlight these beautiful works of art. Background music would be played by the Girnari Jogi Group. Adnan hopes to also reach out to other musicians, and to create a CD of the background music once the film is complete.The film would focus on three stories from Risalo – Bijal, a musician; Sohni, a young woman in love; and an alegory involving a peacock and a cobra. It would also incorporate other short pieces.
Adnan has created a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help fund the production. Art lovers and music lovers are going to want to take part in this one. Rewards for contributions include the usual thanks for help at lower levels. But they also include Risalo wallpapers for your computer, digital download of the soundtrack, art prints from Risalo or from Adnan’s “Art of Music” gallery, DVD/CD combos of Gul and Girnari Jogi, and a Musicians painting from “Art of Music” (Limit 9). Artwork is available for pickup in Los Angeles, or will be shipped rolled anywhere in the world.
Help Adnan Hussein preserve traditional arts, support folk artists and musicians, and gain some truly fine art works by a young artist. If you cannot contribute, watch Gul on the Mad Guru website, and pass the word so others can share.