An unremarkable, crumbling old house in a calm corner of Basavangudi is the venue for unusual artistic performances. Every Sunday evening, the spooky house opens for an hour long performance of Rasaloka, a novel classical theatre in miniature art form.
Artist Deepika Dorai of Bimba the Art Hut has recreated with her own hands a miniature rendering of a cosmic moment frozen in time. Since the past three years, she has added the storytelling element in a formalized theatre like setting to bring the special moment to life. "I want to share with everyone moments of absolute beauty as I see it," Deepika says. "The joy of the cosmic moment is enhanced by recreating and sharing it."
This year’s theme is Ganga Avataranam, or the descent of the holy river from heaven. As the show starts, the miniature scene glows to life in the darkened hall. Experimenting with various materials and fabrics, Deepika has created every miniature figure with great care. She works on figures with a wooden base and recreates lifelike poses and expressions. Ganga poised for the cosmic jump, Lord Shiva expanding into his Vishwaroopa to receive her, the awestruck Bhagirath- the intricate figures are delightful.
Deepika narrates the story with dramatic intensity. You get immersed into the cosmic moment as Deepika draws you with her descriptions and chants, and you forget your fears that the ancient roof might tumble down at any moment. The scene comes to life. The mountains are shuddering at the prospect of Ganga’s mighty fall. A frightened tiger is rushing away in panic. A mother elephant is coaxing her calf to run for it. Garuda is soaring above the scene, asking his master why He is not descending to save the earth this time.
English is the language of Deepika’s choice, in order to reach out to a wider audience of young and old, who are too immersed in today’s hectic lifestyle to seek out their spiritual roots. "I feel as if I am in Seventh Heaven when I perform Rasalok," Deepika says. "Preparing the miniature scene requires three-four months of hard work. As Dussehra approaches, I sometimes perform Rasalok continuously several times a day. Yet I never feel fatigue. That is spirituality."
"This art of capturing a heavenly moment in miniature form started over seventy years ago with Deepika’s grandmother," says Deepak of Bimba. "The genesis was in Dussehra celebrations." Deepika’s grandmother Susheelamma used a few celluloid dolls and figurines to create a miniature scene with stories around it. Deepika’s mother Uma Nagaraj carried on this family tradition, adding her own unique touches. "During the Navaratri festival, this art form served to share and spread the glory of god," adds Deepika. "Navaratri is a spiritually charged time. It encourages meditation, a sense of affinity with the Supreme. Dolls are a convenient medium for a journey into spirituality. Constructing stories around miniature dolls is creatively challenging."
Deepak and Deepika
Bimba the Art Hut
42, Ratna Vilas Road and DVG Road corner
Nagasandra Circle (Opposite DVG Road Canara Bank)
Phone: 4148 9354
While adding her own innovations, Deepika is careful to add only appropriate touches. She strives to maintain the pristine beauty and not resort to using fittings such as electric waterfalls. Deepika was fascinated by the techniques of diorama artists abroad. In dioramas, various artists, costume makers and carpenters work together to create enchanting miniature scenes. A wonderful series of Indian dioramas can be viewed in the Doll’s Museum in Kolkata, where many beautiful miniature scenes have been created by master artists and craftsmen to depict scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
"We named this art ‘Rasaloka’ four years ago," Deepika adds. "In Chennai, my mother and I made our independently conceptualized scenes and displayed them side by side. Many would come to admire and enjoy these miraculous moments envisioned and brought to life in miniature by a single artist. Four years ago, I moved into a different city, and am continuing this tradition."
The show is free and on every Sunday until August. ⊕