Performing the snake goddess in Sundarbans
• South 24 Parganas, West Bengal

Performing the snake goddess in Sundarbans

Farmers and labourers from Rajat Jubilee village in West Bengal come together to perform the Manasa pala gaan, a traditional musical play dedicated to the snake goddess – and keep rural theatre alive

October 18, 2021 | Ritayan Mukherjee

Nats at Singhu: nearing the end of their rope

Nat dancers move between their village in Chhattisgarh and the protest site at Delhi’s Singhu border, supporting the fight for farmers’ rights even as they themselves struggle to make a living

September 28, 2021 | Amir Malik

Trans artists in Madurai: bullied, isolated, broke

Harassed, shunned by family, losing livelihoods – trans folk in Tamil Nadu are seeing the worst of times

July 29, 2021 | Reporting: S. Senthalir | Photographs: M. Palani Kumar

In Madurai: the trauma of trans folk artists

While the pandemic has devastated many folk artists across Tamil Nadu, trans women performers have been among the worst hit – with barely any work or income, and no access to aid or state benefits

July 27, 2021 | Reporting: S. Senthalir | Photographs: M. Palani Kumar

Jodhpur puppeteers: silent stage, stories untold

In this video story, Premram Bhat and others speak of how their puppet shows, once popular in royal courts and at village events, are no longer in demand, and how the lockdowns have further hit their incomes

July 16, 2021 | Madhav Sharma

Quiet blows the kombu in Madurai

Kombu artistes in Tamil Nadu are struggling without any income from temple festivals and public events during the Covid-19 lockdowns. But their worries are more about the declining art

June 29, 2021 | M. Palani Kumar

Karagattam artistes: on a bad stage in Madurai

Tamil Nadu's Karagattam performers, who depend on the art form for a living, are struggling without work and income – and they're anxious that the pandemic will end their dream of educating their children

June 16, 2021 | M. Palani Kumar

‘Dancing like flowers in a garland’
, and • Bastar, Chhattisgarh

‘Dancing like flowers in a garland’

At celebrations and commemorations during the winter months, young men and women from Chhattisgarh's Gond community travel together to perform the Hulki Mandri and Kolang dances, and sing Rela songs

March 30, 2021 | Purusottam Thakur
Whipping and worship on Mumbai's streets
and • Mumbai Suburban, Maharashtra

Whipping and worship on Mumbai's streets

Lakshman Katappa and his family, who belong to the Dhegu Megu SC community of Kodambal village in Karnataka and worship Goddess Mariyamma, dance and whip themselves to earn a living

March 10, 2021 | Aakanksha

Daivas, dance and divine intervention
and • Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka

Daivas, dance and divine intervention

In this centuries-old ritual event in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, impersonators tell stories of forgotten heroes from Dalitcommunities, solve disputes, and provide catharsis

July 30, 2020 | Nidhi Shetty

Terah Taali: the dance of the 13 cymbals

Nirmala Devi, her daughter Tara, and their all-women group are accomplished dancers, known for their signature Terah Taali sequence. Every evening, they ascend the stage in Udaipur's Bagore ki Haveli

September 20, 2019 | Urja

Charubala: joy and Jhumur, sorrow and song

In Senabana village of West Bengal's Purulia district, 65-year-old Charubala Kalindi, who has danced as a nachni for decades, still whips up a high-energy performance along with her rasik and their troupe

July 19, 2019 | Abhijit Chakraborty
Performing Ramkatha in a changed Ayodhya
and • Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh

Performing Ramkatha in a changed Ayodhya

During the Dussehra month, the ragtag Ramkatha Singing Party dashes off from stage to stage, before returning to their day jobs, even as the retelling of the epic is engulfed by contemporary politics

October 19, 2018 | Joydip Mitra

Heckled, harassed, still dancing

For the female dancers in Mangala Bansode’s tamasha troupe in rural Maharashtra, work brings a steady income, but also entails sexual harassment, gruelling schedules, no privacy, and even childbirth on the move

August 29, 2018 | Vinaya Kurtkoti

A rich night of Dashavatar improvisations
and • Sindhudurg, Maharashtra

A rich night of Dashavatar improvisations

In Dashavatar performances – a centuries-old theatre form of south Maharashtra and north Goa – plays of several hours, with only male actors, most of them farmers and labourers, keep audiences riveted till dawn

May 8, 2018 | Indrajit Khambe

Possessed by his art, a Bahurupi transforms

Raju Chowdhury of West Bengal's Bishaypur village is a storyteller, a feverish singer, an impersonator. His income is modest, the work is hard. This film features his stunning dance as the imaginary Tara sundori

March 23, 2018 | Sinchita Maji

Pulling the last of the strings
and • Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh

Pulling the last of the strings

Puppeteers in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh are struggling to keep their art form alive – with its rich tradition and history – despite no help from the state and the takeover of ‘entertainment’ by television

March 21, 2018 | Rahul Maganti

The art and the agony of Subhash Shinde

PARI volunteer Sanket Jain aims to traverse 300 villages across India and, among other stories, produce this feature: a photograph of a rural scene or event and a sketch of that photograph. This is the fifth in the series on PARI.

February 19, 2018 | Sanket Jain

Tamasha: transformed but still travelling

Changes in technology, in audience tastes, shrinking performance spaces – have all impacted the tamasha. Troupe owners have mixed feelings – is the tamasha in danger or will Mangala Bansode's art form survive?

December 7, 2017 | Vinaya Kurtkoti and Shatakshi Gawade

‘Tamasha is like a jail that I want to stay in’

The tamasha remains popular in rural Maharashtra, where many see it as a more stable form of livelihood than agricultural labour, though profits are lean and the schedule is gruelling. One of the biggest troupes is run by Mangala Bansode, who received a National Award in the Creative Arts category yesterday, October 9

October 10, 2017 | Vinaya Kurtkoti and Shatakshi Gawade
Dancing to the dollu in Hesaraghatta
• Bangalore Urban, Karnataka

Dancing to the dollu in Hesaraghatta

Young women on the outskirts of Bengaluru excel at a Kannada drum-and-dance form long thought to be a skill for burly men. In the video here, watch the group perform with extraordinary energy and rhythm

November 14, 2017 | Vishaka George
Bahurupi: a family of many faces
• Birbhum, West Bengal

Bahurupi: a family of many faces

Bahurupi artists in West Bengal easily metamorphose into different characters during a performance, but are finding it hard to change their work roles with changing times

January 20, 2017 | Ankan Roy & Sagarika Basu

The dance of the false-legged horse

Poikkal Kuthirai dancers of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, struggle to make a living from their ancient folk art form

October 13, 2016 | Aparna Karthikeyan
The Bhils of Alirajpur
• Alirajpur, Madhya Pradesh

The Bhils of Alirajpur

Across the villages of Alirajpur, many of them now denuded and barren and with few livelihood options, the Bhils struggle to retain their farming and cultural practices

July 14, 2016 | Rohit Jain
Drums, bagpipes and Choliya dance
• Bageshwar, Uttarakhand

Drums, bagpipes and Choliya dance

Choliya troupes in Uttarakhand integrate Scottish bagpipes into rural Indian music

April 2, 2016 | Yashashwini Raghunandan & Ekta Mittal

• Thoubal, Manipur


This traditional drum of Manipur's Meitei community is central to their culture, and to spectacular music and dance

December 31, 2015 | Anubha Bhonsle & Sunzu Bachaspatimayum

Storytelling the Kattaikkuttu way
• Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu

Storytelling the Kattaikkuttu way

Student artists in a unique school of education and theatre art in Tamil Nadu

November 13, 2015 | Namita Waikar

Hanging by a thread
• New Delhi, Delhi

Hanging by a thread

Delhi’s old colony ​of puppeteers ​is in a state of flux​,​ with threat​s​ to ​the ​land, housing and social structures​

December 18, 2014 | Urvashi Sarkar

Kali dances – Thappattam
• Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu

Kali dances – Thappattam

Watch Kali Veerapadran – perhaps the only male dancer who has mastered the classical dance form Bharatanatyam, as well as three ancient Tamil folk dance forms – in a riveting performance

July 20, 2014 | Aparna Karthikeyan
Kali: the dancer and his dreams
• Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu

Kali: the dancer and his dreams

'I want to set up a dance school, I want to earn money, I want to look after my mother, I want to dance'

July 16, 2014 | Aparna Karthikeyan