A case for incorporating puppetry into Covid comms

A puppet-show in rural India inspired one comms executive to think about older means of comms where data and automation are nary to be seen.

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

If we start to put innovative thinking at the core of what we do, we can think of delivering the larger good by simply making use of much older channels of mass communications. When I say old here, I do travel back in time to a society where oral, visual, and audio-visual communications meant puppetry, drama, street theatre, and folklore.

The reason I think we should revive older means of communications in the current scenario is primarily because of the advanced technology and innovation that’s readily available to us.  While the impact of the pandemic remains unabated, it has become critical to think and reflect over what could be done from a communications standpoint to prevent the spread of Covid and enforce appropriate behaviour amongst the masses, especially those in rural and semi-rural areas. With the virulent second wave of Covid becoming rampant across the rural hinterlands, it is the need of the hour. 

I know that data and automation can drive the world in the future but is it the forgiving reality that all of us need to adopt? Are we not allowed to take a detour, apply innovative thinking and revamp and repackage older means of mass communications? 

These thoughts occurred to me when I came across a headline on The Hindu: “Assam string puppetry ‘Putola Nach’ rides Covid campaign for revival”. In essence, a four-string puppetry production created a storyline that incorporated Covid-awareness as a theme.

I was impressed by the idea. What also surprised me was the element of regionalisation, personalisation, and hyper-localisation from a communications standpoint. Let’s think of the expanse of localisation considering that India has 29 states and more than 19,500 languages or dialects spoken as mother tongues. 

Nakul Ghai is a communications and marketing professional based in India. 


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