Where the Shadows Speak
Arts Illustrated|June - July 2020
The founder of Sarmaya Arts Foundation takes us through the bylanes of his journey with Sindhe Chidambara Rao, the custodian of the ancient art form of shadow puppetry – Tholu Bommalata
Paul Abraham

Hanumana, early 21st century, by Sindhe Chidambara Rao, © Sarmaya Arts Foundation.

Tara, early 21st century, by Sindhe Chidambara Rao, © Sarmaya Arts Foundation.

Rakshasa (Ravan Sena), early 21st century, by Sindhe Chidambara Rao, © Sarmaya Arts Foundation

In the summer of 2019 I travelled to Dharmavaram in Andhra Pradesh to visit Sindhe Chidambara Rao. Dharmavaram is steeped in history, with ancient temples and weaving looms. Greeting us at the end of our journey in front of a house with a yellow door was Chidambara Rao. I first met Chidambara in 2013 at a Paramparik Karigar exhibition held in Mumbai where I acquired a few of his puppets. Over the years, our relationship grew from that of a collector and artist to a deep and abiding friendship.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM ARTS ILLUSTRATEDView All

We Are Looking into It

Swiss-based artists Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger talk to us about the evolving meaning and purpose of photography and the many perspectives it lends to history

6 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

Cracked Wide Open

Building one of the world’s largest domes was no mean task for anyone, let alone an amateur goldsmith, so how did Filippo Brunelleschi accomplish building not one, but two of them?

2 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

In Search of a Witness

In conversation with legendary artist Arpana Caur on all things epiphanic, on all things pandemic, and on all things artistic

6 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

Where the Shadows Speak

The founder of Sarmaya Arts Foundation takes us through the bylanes of his journey with Sindhe Chidambara Rao, the custodian of the ancient art form of shadow puppetry – Tholu Bommalata

4 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

Bodies in Motion

What happens to the memory of a revelatory experience when it is re-watched through the frames of a screen? It somehow makes the edges sharper and the focal point clearer, as we discover through Chandralekha’s iconic Sharira

4 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

Faces in the Water

As physical ‘masks’ become part of our life, we take a look at artists working with different aspects of ‘faces’ and the things that lurk beneath the surface.

8 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

A Meeting at the Threshold

The immortal actor exemplified all that is admirable about his profession, from his creative choices to his work philosophy, and his passing was a low blow. This is our tribute to the prince among stars – Irrfan

5 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

A Sky Full Of Thoughts

Artist James Turrell’s ‘Twilight Epiphany Skyspace’ brings together the many nuances of architecture, time, space, light and music in a profound experience that blurs boundaries and lets one roam free within their own minds

4 mins read
Arts Illustrated
June - July 2020

Free and Flawed

Greta Gerwig revitalises the literary classic, Little Women, highlighting the literary journey of its temperamental and wonderfully flawed female protagonist, Jo March

5 mins read
Arts Illustrated
April - May 2020

The Good, the Bad, the Blurred

Franco-German photographer Alexandre Dupeyron took us through his abstracted realities that tread the line between documentary and fiction

4 mins read
Arts Illustrated
April - May 2020