Indian puppeteer, playwright, theatre and television director, and educator. Ranjana Pandey graduated from Delhi University in English Literature, with an MA in Mass Communication and a Diploma in Journalism. She trained in puppetry in Belgium under Theatre Toone, Theatre Tilapin, and Théâtre du Péruchet.
In 1982, Ranjana Pandey founded and directed Jan Madhyam (“the people’s medium” or “of the people”), a community media-based, educational puppetry company. Ranjana Pandey is one of the pioneers in the Indian subcontinent to explore puppetry as therapy.
Jan Madhyam created a puppetry-based weekly “Chowkoo-Pili” (Chowkoo or “cube-headed” boy and Pili or “yellow” girl) series of shows (1984-1990) for Delhi’s intellectually disabled youth, which taught learning concepts and developed social skills and values, performed with partners including Karen Smith and Shubha Saxena. These weekly shows were taken to schools, slums, and villages in the Greater Delhi and Haryana region. This work has continued to improve the lives of the disabled, with special attention to girls and women.
Other development communication programmes using puppetry and performance media have focused on literacy, the needs of the disabled, ecology, endangered species, income generation, sanitation, health, and violence against women.
In 2000-2002, Ranjana Pandey created and directed the first puppetry-based, 18-episode television series for children, Khullum Khulla (Free and Open), which was telecast by India’s national broadcasting corporation, Doordarshan, several times through a period of eighteen months.
Ranjana Pandey is on the faculty of several teacher training and mass communication colleges including Jamia Millia Islamia (National Islamic) University in New Delhi and she gives workshops on puppetry for education, therapy and development.