Ventriloquism and Puppetry in India: The Story of Ardhavatrao

Satyajit Ramdas Padhye is a third generation ventriloquist, puppeteer, and puppet maker from India. He is the son of Ramdas Padhye, India’s leading ventriloquist and grandson of Prof. Yeshwant Keshav Padhye, who created Ardhavatrao, India’s most loved puppet character. Emma Windsor caught up with him to find out more about his family history, his passion for puppetry and his hopes for the the art form in India.

Satyajit Ramdas Padhye

Can you tell us about the history of Ardhavatrao and your family?

My grandfather Prof. Yeshwant Keshav Padhye was a renowned magician. He once saw a solider from First World War doing ventriloquism and hence thought of trying his hand at ventriloquism, and thus created a character called “Ardhavatrao” that he conceived in the middle of 1916 and 1917. This character is now more than 100 years old and is actively being performed by my father Ramdas Padhye who popularised this art of ventriloquism and puppetry in India since 1967. My father learnt this art from his father Yeshwant Padhye and has performed more than 9,900 shows across different media including stage, TV shows, feature films, and ad-films.

So, I am a third generation ventriloquist, puppeteer, and puppet maker and carrying on the legacy of my grandfather.

Why did you decide to continue with your Grandfather’s legacy? What is most important to you about puppetry as an art form?

Well, I was very naturally drawn towards the art since my father Ramdas Padhye has been into this art for the last five decades, popularising this art in India, and is a celebrity. My father never forced me into it as art cannot be forced. It should come naturally to you. So, although I am a Chartered Accountant by education, I never pursued it as a profession, but ventriloquism and puppetry became by profession.

The most important thing about puppetry as an art form is that it has a universal appeal and can evoke a lot of emotions. I guess puppets speak more than an actor and I guess it is less offending when puppets speak the truth.

You were recently involved in the production of the film ‘Ludo’ with filmmaker Anurag Basu. Can you tell us more about that and your role in the production?

Mr Anurag Basu, who is famous director in India, was planning his next film Ludo where one of the lead actors Aditya Roy Kapur was playing a role of a ventriloquist and voice-over artiste. Anurag Basu called me and asked me to train Aditya for the role of a ventriloquist. He also knew that my dad Ramdas Padhye creates look-alike puppets of people and hence hired us to create a puppet which looked exactly like Aditya. We used 3D scanning and 3D printing technique for the first time in India to create a look-alike puppet of the actor. It was a challenging process as it was never done before. We could achieve this because of our excellent team.

What are your hopes for the future of puppetry in India?

I think the future of puppetry looks bright for our country India, as there is lot of interest in the art of ventriloquism as well as puppetry. The younger generations are aware about this art because of the internet and we have the youngest population. In fact we get lot of inquires about learning the art of ventriloquism and puppetry. I guess there will be many puppeteers and ventriloquists from India in the coming years.

To find out more about Ramdas Padhye and his work, visit To find out more about Satyajit Padhye, his work and his workshops, visit his website at or connect via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Interviewed by Emma Windsor

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