K S Khande Ramadas and Troupe

Performance Artist

K S Khande Ramadas is a tholu bommalata artist from Dharamavaram in Andhra Pradesh. He was initiated into puppetry by his father in 1991, at the age of 17. His father performed in small villages around Ananthapuram and there was sustained income from the art form, which reduced with time. Later, the Ministry of Textiles identified tholu bommalata as a handicrafts tradition in decline and supported it with funds and training. K Ramadas has trained about 25 families in making traditional leather puppetry. He has performed in Delhi, Mumbai, Surat and Australia as well. Along with his family members, Ramadas runs ‘Kanakadurga tollubommala Panivayala Samshema Sangam’ to create awareness about this folk art. Recognising his contributions to performing arts, Ramadas was awarded Dakshina Chitra Virudhu in 2004. He makes, exhibits and sells tholu bommas at handicrafts exhibitions and expos as well.

Accompanying artists: Khande Srinath, Khande Ramanjaneyulu, Khande Gangadhara, Vanarasa Aravindamma, and Shinde Srinivasulu


5:15 pm - 6:30 pm

Saturday 11 May

Sūtradhārī | A Tholu Bommalata Performance


Artist: K S Khande Ramadas
Accompanying artists: Khande Srinath, Khande Ramanjaneyulu, Khande Gangadhara, Vanarasa Aravindamma, Shinde Srinivasulu

With his skillful manipulation of strings, the Sutradhari (storyteller) brings puppets to life by weaving a spell of light, shadow and sound. Such is the magic of tholu bommalata, a traditional shadow puppetry legacy of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This folk art combines puppetry, music and narration to tell stories. The puppets are made of leather and painted in bright hues of blue, green, red and black. They appear two-dimensional but come alive as 3D illusions when manipulated behind a backlit screen.

In the performance, the puppeteers are accompanied by singers and musicians on the harmonium, mridangam and finger cymbals. Traditionally, tholu bommalata presents stories from Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. This time at IIHS, Sutradhari K Ramadas and his ensemble will present the story of Ranganatha Ramayanam’s Sundara Kanda.