To bring back the government and public focus on traditional toys and dolls that are dying a slow death in India despite a recent push from the Government, husband-wife Toy Collector duo Agnibarna Bhaduri and Madhumadhabi Bhaduri are holding a toy exhibition, ‘Putul’ – Traditional Toys and Dolls of India at the India International Centre in New Delhi. The show is curated by their son Asani Bhaduri, a faculty member of Delhi University.
This exhibition showcases more than 75 toys and dolls from all over the country. There are special display sections with action toys and toys made up of miscellaneous materials such as clay, wood, papier-mâché, metal, tin, leather, candle, clothes, seashells etc. A special section is devoted to Action Toys and Traditional Elephants.
“The idea of this traditional toys dolls exhibition is to showcase the diversity of toys in India. We want people to recognise the large repertoire of toys and dolls in India and we hope the viewers commit themselves to help preserve the vanishing art,” says Asani, ruing the fact that toys and festive fairs are now vanishing from urban culture and public spaces. The art of toy making is not restricted to specific parts of India as commonly believed – rather it is extraordinarily vast – as is the diversity of the raw materials.
“Initially, my father, a retired professor and renowned researcher, started collecting toys from Bengal and neighbouring states. Slowly we have built a collection of toys and dolls from all over India,” he says.
Talking about his future plans regarding the exhibition, Asani says, “As of now we have no plan to take the show to other cities as this is very time-consuming process. But, in future, if galleries or other bodies are interested we can think of it. We showcased our collection previously in Kolkata quite a few times.”
Hopeful about people interest in the show, he says, “There is a renewed interest in toys and the more people now visit the show. Through this show, I hope they will remember their childhood and get back to collecting and preserving toys. It is true that video games have taken over traditional toys but when a child sees a plaything, however traditional, he/she is bound to get excited.”
The exhibition is sure to take you to a journey across India…from Ladakh and J&K to East and Northeast.. then going to south and back by western side, it showcases different states and UTs and their toys and dolls.
The toymakers of India have imbibed the tradition, flown with the times, represented myths and history while maintaining the creativity. However, there is lack of enthusiasm from both consumers (mostly parents) and toymakers – while children are leaping from plastic toys to ‘phygital’ games eve as artists are leaving their age-old profession for searching job in metro cities Further, there are very few museums for toys where people can see the vast repertoire of toys and dolls of India, and the festive fairs where the artisans used to bring toys are decreasing in size and number. We have neither preserved nor written or researched about the history and socio-cultural aspects of toy-making. Maybe it is time!
Visit Art Gallery, India International Centre Annexe till December 12, 11-7pm