A sprawling slum spreads out near Shadipur depot on the Dwarka-Indraprastha metro line in New Delhi. But unlike so many other tightly packed houses standing along narrow lanes, the homes in this neighbourhood hide magic within their walls. For at least 60 years, magicians, puppeteers and dancers from across Rajasthan have migrated to Kathputli Colony. But though the streets still ring with the sound of harmonium, and children still learn how to balance on a floating rope, many now opt for jobs outside the realm of magic. Resident Kailash Bhatt, 23, was pained by the decline of art forms around him, and with the money he raised performing across Europe, built the House of Puppets and started a bi-weekly community show to ensure his father’s, grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s magical traditions were not lost.
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Photographs by Zackary Canepari