The melodious music of Vina and the enchanting rhythm of Huduk and Taal (the supporting instruments) used to cheer the crowd once upon a time. It was the signature music of Chitrakathi, the ancient folk art of the region. It was the favorite pastime once upon a time.
The situation is totally different today. The sound of music doesn't attract crowd anymore. Villagers do not rush to the site for grabbing the best position. Daily soaps, scoops, and IPL attract them more than this wonderful traditional art of storytelling. The art form of Chitrakathi is on the verge of extinction. The hurricane of cable TV and other forms of entertainment force it to die its own death.
Chitrakathi, the phenomenal audio-visual form of storytelling
Chitrakathi is a special folk art form that didn’t get fame like Madhubani or Warli, but it is not inferior in any aspect. Bold strokes and handmade colors make it distinctly beautiful. As the name suggests, Chitrakathi is a sequence of pictures used for narrating a story. It is kind of comic strip that describes a storyline in the form of pictures.Predominantly the stories are picked from Mahabharata; Folk tales or stories from Puranas also taken sometimes.
The small and quiet village named Pinguli, in the Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra, is the origin of this spectacular art form. Some experts compare it with the leather puppets of North Karnataka that are similar to Chitrakathi. However, the strokes and expressions in Chitrakathi are distinctively different.
Chitrakathi artists use these pictures while narrating the story. The performance is an extravaganza of music, songs and rhythm. Relevant pictures are displayed with the narration.
The art form is on the deathbed
All folk dance and art forms in India are facing pressures of globalization. With the increasing urbanization and changing lifestyle of rural people, the traditional art forms do not get sufficient audience. The “generation next” is not interested to continue the tradition because it is not financially viable. The people who have taken the patronage from their earlier generation also don’t show much enthusiasm in imparting the knowledge further. The story of Chitrakathi is also not different. The Thakars, who kept the tradition alive for centuries, finds it impossible to carry it further in the absence of patronage.
The government and cultural organizations come to rescue
The government of Maharashtra state and other cultural organizations from the central government come forward for extending a helping hand to this wonderful art. Several workshops, seminars, and orientation training programs are being organized to make it popular.
Scholarship programs and financial assistance is being extended for those who want to be torchbearers of the tradition. Certainly the efforts will be fruitful, and the forthcoming generation won’t be deprived of the rich cultural heritage of India.
The art of Chitrakathi entertained many generations yesterday, and it is going to continue with full galore and glory tomorrow as well. When the government, non-government organizations and educational institutes join hands to save the tradition; success is guaranteed!