THE LAST DAYS OF THE MAGIC SLUM
DELHI, INDIA | 2012
Almost half a century ago, the Bhatt family, Gypsy puppeteers from Rajasthan, set up their campsite in the North East suburbs of Delhi. After India's independence and at the dawn of a modern era, the Maharajas and rich merchants of the rural areas started to lose interest in these nomad artists. For the Bhatt family, Delhi was the new Eldorado, the rapidly growing capital of a country which they had traveled the length and breadth of for many generations. Quickly a number of other artists joined them in this no man's land. Tents in Kathputli began to accommodate bear tamers, dancers, magicians, acrobats, percussionists and fire-eaters. This amazing place, halfway between horror and wonder, where the closeness between artists has made it possible to protect and ensure the existence of many ancestral arts, is doomed to disappear. The city of Delhi intends to recover “its” land in order to build a state-of-the-art building complex on Kathputli. For the past few months families in Kathputli have been under constant threat of eviction. The Kathputli magic slum is probably living its last days on stage, before the final curtain falls for good on an invaluable artistic and popular tradition.