I fell in love with Ravana, holy attitude be damned. And no, I am not into bad boys but this one looked so cute. Yes, referring to the kathakali styled, heavily made up, tush shaking Ravana of the Sri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra’s musical drama Sri Ram.
Unwillingly I have to admit that despite considering myself a true blue Dilliwaali or so I claim, I had never seen this Ramlila, and I swear I didn’t realize I was missing something. Per chance a good friend had 2 spares on the day of the event and called me at the nth hour to join her with my son and I jumped out of my bed, I was napping, got ready in 2 minutes and met her at the venue. Even though we had the premium Rs 500 tickets the free seating required us to queue up outside the gate by 6pm. The foyer leading up to the open air stage was decorated on both sides by paintings and calligraphic renditions of the name RAMA in many languages. Getting a good comfortable sofa in the 4th row from the front, we settled to watch what would be an awesome learning and entertainment for all of us.
Into its 59th edition this Ramlila, as per its director Padma Shri, Shobha Deepak Singh, is a “perfect synergy of idealism, grandiosity and reality- a beautiful symphony of a magnificent tapestry of costumes, lighting, choreography and music.” And we nod our heads in agreement. It is all this and much much more, a peek into the story of Rama and Ravana who without each other could not have been what they are. I have always felt that Ravanas tragic flaw was his majestic ego and a bit of lust, he is much better than many Ravanas that we see on the streets these days. But well this post is not about being skeptical or negative, it is about this evocative drama that inspires one to think beyond the realms of black and white. It is all about the shades of grey (and not the 50 shades that you are smirking at).
Beautifully crafted stage came alive with lovely dances, amazing sound track that told the story, a slide show that was like headlines and poignant yet over acting the way theater should be. This Ramlila did not remain untouched by the usage of multimedia including a bit of animation that has been introduced this year. The fact that the Ramlila is reinvented and includes elements of innovation makes it as new for anyone who is watching it year after year. My friend, a design instructor at a leading Delhi college and her daughter were equally mesmerized as if they were watching it for the first time and that’s saying a lot, isn’t it?
I loved the pace that the story moved at, fast yet not missing the milestones. What stayed with me as a deep after-thought post watching it, that usually never made an impact when one is reading the text, were these 2 episodes. One was that of Kevat the boatman, who ferries Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman across the river. When they reach the other shore, Kevat humbly refuses to take any money for his services, saying to Ram that you and I are both boatmen, I take people across the river and you take them across from this world towards moksha. Second came when Ravan was killed by the arrow of Lord Rama, and Ravana pronounced that i am still victorious I will get to your kingdom (the Lord’s kingdom heaven) before you get to mine. I mean I almost had tears in my eyes, the way it was played out and said. To do the acts beautifully for almost close to a month each day requires much conviction and faith.
The dances were beautifully choreographed, in particular the dance by the golden deer was spectacular. Another scene that got standing ovation was when Bharat meets Ram in the forest and wants to take him back to where he belongs. The way Bharat runs and skids to lie prone in Rama’s feet was followed by thunderous clapping.
The arti and coronation when Lord Rama reaches Ayodhya and the deepawali scenes/dances deserve a special mention. The stage wore a look of festivity and divinity, the chiming bells, the diyas in the dancers’ hands and the royal seating of Rama and Sita with Hanuman and the rest of the family was straight out of a temple. To have achieved that look that inspired most in the audience to bow down or clap along was out of this world.
Post the Ramlila, we took selfies with Ravana, Ram and Sita and they all obliged. No photography is allowed while the show is in progress, so some of the pics in this post are not mine and taken from the Internet. Infact though I missed taking pictures, I realized that the moments soaked in were much more impacting than pictures framed, it is true the eyes will see what the camera won’t.
Thank you dear friend to have thought of us, its an experience we won’t forget in a hurry. For any body reading this, staying in Delhi and not have gone for it; you are missing much my friend. This year it is on till November 9th.
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