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Suranya Aiyar: Indian folk art can compete with Peppa Pig

Suranya Aiyar: Indian folk art can compete with Peppa Pig
 

Play Art, introducing folk art to youngsters

Suranya Aiyar rediscovered her love of folk art with her youngsters and thru her vary of books, and now an app. She talks about drawing youngsters away from the world of Peppa Pig and i-Pads and introducing them to the thrill of Indian peacocks, folk art and raga Malhar.

Creating an alternative choice to Peppa Pig

Studying to my youngsters, I felt, like many Indian mother and father, the necessity for extra trendy tales that have been rooted in India, particularly for youngsters within the cities who’re educated in English-medium faculties. There’s plenty of wonderful Indian writing for pre- and early-teens, however not sufficient for the pre- and primary-school stage for which youngsters have actually torrents of Western materials. I feared that my youngsters can be so immersed on the planet of Peppa Pig and Lightning McQueen that ready until they have been 10 or 11 to introduce the Indian materials was too late. So that’s how I acquired the thought of beginning a line of youngsters’s books with tales that revolved round all issues Indian, from our iconic birds, timber and animals to our festivals and legends and our very Indian likes and dislikes, like how we endure in the summertime warmth and our love of mangoes!

The peacock led the best way

Considered one of my first books was about a bit of peacock. I used to be sitting on the desk on a scorching, scorching day and considering longingly concerning the rains, as all of us do in Delhi. After which I began buzzing a music in Miyan ki Malhar that my Ustad had taught me. Legend has it that Mian Tansen might deliver the rains with his Malhar. So then I obtained the thought for writing about simply that, the enjoyment of the monsoon and what’s extra symbolic of it for us in north India than peacocks dancing within the rain! So that’s how the story of the Peacock Who Needed to Fly Like an Eagle happened.

Because the story had a peacock, all the opposite birds of India got here in—the eagle, parrots, bullbuls and so forth. Even a really particular crow. It was virtually as in the event that they flew in by themselves to hitch their good friend the peacock! The story is about in a backyard—Madhuvan—and whereas drawing for the story I obtained the thought of displaying as a backdrop all the long-lasting timber of India. And so, one after the other, all of the timber sprang up as if by themselves beneath my fingers —the banyan, gulmohar, champa, mango, peepal. All my previous sensible pals from round Delhi…I feel it was they who needed to say one thing to youngsters and I used to be solely the instrument for it.

Goals of a Kathakali-ballet fusion

On this method the thought acquired a lifetime of its personal and took me to so many locations. For example, parrots and peacocks are a favourite topic in dance and once I go for storytelling in faculties, I invite the dance instructor to point out the youngsters a couple of actions to depict the birds. The youngsters love that and it introduces them to the Bharatnatyam or Kathak type, relying on the instructor’s specialty, in an easy and playful method. Then once I made this story into an animated video, I used to be in a position to make use of music. Ustad Arif Ali Khan, sarangi maestro of the well-known Kairana Gharana composed an exquisite rating utilizing the Malhar bandish that was made well-known within the movie track ‘Bole Re Papihara’, with Jaya Bahaduri (as she then was). I even labored with grasp puppeteer Santosh Bhatt to make this story right into a puppet present with all of the totally different birds. One in every of my goals is to make my story—The Battle of Northway—right into a dance drama. It’s a few warfare between the great “rakshasas” of Ambavan and the evil magician King Hamlin of Northway. I can see it as a fusion between Kathakali and western ballet dancers!

Suranya Aiyer

Youngsters love folk art

You solely need to look by way of a number of examples of any folk art to see how child-friendly it’s! I don’t imply that folk art is straightforward – it’s refined and extremely advanced as art. However youngsters can take nice pleasure from it. The themes are sometimes drawn from nature—timber, birds and animals. In the event you ask a toddler to attract one thing, these are their pure topics of selection. One other set of themes in folk art are scenes from mythology and the good epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata that youngsters are properly acquainted with. Then there are depictions in folk art of their favourite festivals like Diwali and Holi. These are the hooks that can be used to attract them into folk art. We have now began a web-based Art Library on our web site that curates folk art for youngsters on Pinterest from round India. The thought is to create a hub for folks to discover all types of folk art with their youngsters in a single place.

By the way, I’ve all the time appreciated and acquired on with artists. As soon as I turned a mom, it was much more so. I feel there’s a mutual recognition of my being “mast” in my youngsters, as they’re “mast” of their art!  In my first years of quitting work to develop into a full-time mother, I turned to music and art, previous deserted hobbies that turned the brand new anchors of my world. First it was my music “ustads” after which the folk artists who turned my “saathis” in my new journey in life.

Competing with i-Pads

As my youngsters began rising up, I went on a mission to compete with the Pixar and i-Pad issue of their lives! I used to be decided that Indian dance, music and art can be as a lot part of their lives as all of the Western stuff. One of many first issues was taking them to bop and puppet exhibits. Because of the (now demolished) giant Kathputhli colony right here in Delhi, it was straightforward to seek out Rajashtani puppet exhibits. I made a compromise with my youngsters that for his or her birthday events the cake might have their favourite cartoon character however as an alternative of the Bouncy Fort we might have a Rajashtani puppet present for the leisure. So with successive birthdays the puppeteers turned pals. As the youngsters grew just a little older they each confirmed themselves to be eager artists. I needed my youngsters to be as acquainted with conventional Indian art as with trendy or Western art, so I enquired with the Kathputhli colony people who discovered me the fantastic Shankarlal Bhopa.

Discovering Phad and Madhubani artists

Shankarlalji is a Phad artist. He’s additionally proficient in miniature art. He’s an empanelled artist with the Authorities and has traveled everywhere in the nation doing exhibitions and workshops. His ancestors have been Bhopas or travelling performers from Rajashtan who entertain individuals with tales and songs based mostly on the well-known Rajasthani legend of Paboji Rathore. Historically, the efficiency makes use of Rajasthani Phad drawings that depict scenes from the legend as it’s advised. Shankarlalji’s grandfather learnt Phad from an artist in Rajasthan and moved to Delhi to hunt his fortune. He taught his art to his youngsters and that’s how Shankarlalji’s household turned Phad practioners from being Bhopas. Watching Shankarlalji train my youngsters I obtained the thought of increasing Mama Suranya Books from storybooks to folk art colouring books.

For the Madhubani ebook, I discovered a folk artist at Dilli Haat. I went there to show my books through the Delhi Literature pageant. On the best way, out some Madhubani paintings in one of many stalls caught my eye. I made a decision to purchase a couple of items and located that each one the items I appreciated have been all by the identical artist—Sujeet Karn. I used to be actually struck by his work and requested about him. We met and hit it off, and that’s how we collaborated on the Madhubani colouring books.

Adapting Madhubani for teenagers to color

Sujeet Karn is a really fascinating Madhubani artist. He makes use of the Madhubani type, however his sensibility could be very trendy. He has caught the “hava” of recent tastes, that are inclined in the direction of the summary. So he’ll isolate a motif from the Madhubani palate, like, for example he’ll draw only a peacock, as an alternative of a full Tree of Life scene, and will probably be in only one or two colors. It additionally made it straightforward to work with him for the youngsters’s collection as a result of he understood that we needed to pare issues down in order that it will not be intimidating for young children.

We plan to roll out colouring books on all folk art types—Kalighat, Kalamkari, Mehndi designs, Orissa Pat Chitra, Kerala Mural Work, Gond, Warli, Kathakali masks and so forth. There’s a variety of varieties out there and that’s what makes India so particular.

Delhi, a hub for crafts

On this approach I maintain searching for artists to work with for the folk art colouring books. One particular factor about Delhi is that it’s straightforward to seek out artists to work with as a whole lot of craftpersons reside right here and others come right here with exhibitions and workshops from across the nation. That is one great point that the federal government has completed. Since Independence there was a acutely aware nurturing and help of conventional arts and crafts. We might all the time do extra and higher, in fact, however at the least the flame has been stored alive. Now it’s actually for the general public to start out consuming folk art in higher numbers.

Introducing youngsters to Indian tradition

Mother and father can take a look at the Art library and Storytelling, Music and Dance Movies posted on our Mama Suranya Books web site. We have now one thing new each week. You Tube can also be a terrific useful resource for art and music exhibits that you simply can take pleasure in with your youngsters in your personal time. Aside from that I might say to oldsters take your youngsters to music, dance and puppet exhibits as a lot as you can. They’re principally free. You can discover many exhibits through the pageant occasions. In Delhi, the most effective occasions are Diwali-Dussehra. For smaller youngsters, look out for exhibits that use percussion devices; drums and “dhols” are a by no means fail with the youngsters. I might say start with dance exhibits as they’re simpler than musical performances to carry the eye of small youngsters. Look out for open air venues; for small youngsters, you want the area to take them off for a fast stroll in the event that they get too stressed.

Have to curate cultural exhibits for teenagers

For those who can get a small group of youngsters collectively, like Three-Four faculty buddies or cousins, then they have a tendency to final out longer. It takes some effort, however it’s actually value it. No less than that’s what I inform myself when the youngsters are notably naughty!  A method of taking a look at it’s that youngsters are uncompromising critics. I’ve observed that by the age of six-ish, youngsters will sit via a very prime class present; it’s solely the middling stuff that leaves them stressed. What we actually want is for prime class critics and performers to advocate cultural exhibits for teenagers.

Faculties additionally have to do extra to have folk and classical exhibits and coaching. We should always ban pop music and synthesisers from faculty performances. Each youngster must be taught at the very least “saregama” and “teen taal”.

On-line studying assets for teenagers

There’s plenty of materials on the market—phrase video games and math-related actions. There are additionally YouTube youngsters’ channels with science experiments that I extremely advocate. Utilizing cleaning soap, vinegar, baking soda and different family supplies, there are some actually enjoyable science lab channels with youngsters making big bubbles and self-expanding balloons and utilizing the floor rigidity of water to make paper persist with upturned glasses and so forth. It’s utterly protected. There are additionally some nice art and craft channels on the market. I’m very completely happy when my youngsters select to spend their time doing these science labs and art and craft. It’s a healthful and artistic means of passing the time.

(Suranya Aiyer is founding father of Mama Suranya Books, rooted in Indians arts and tradition, and Play Art, a colouring and stickers app for main schoolers, drawn from their e-book assortment and folk art colouring books.)

 

About the author

Tejas Sachdeva

Tejas Sachdeva

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