Delhi’s wait of two long years has finally come to an end as a festival season unfolds in full measure with star-studded Ramlilas, unbounded by Covid restrictions, back across the town with bigger, grander and more impressive display.
The celebrations this year broke the Covid squeeze, adding colour, music and dance to the autumnal evenings of the national capital. Once again, the city is dotted with Durga Puja pandals and witnessing well-attended Ramlilas, the enactment of the victory of good over evil in the Hindu epic of Ramayana.
One of the grandest productions of Ramlila in Delhi, the Lav Kush Ramlila at the the Red Fort, has invited a slew of Bollywood and TV stars as well as politicians to play the parts of different characters in the epic.
Several TV and film actors including Raghav Tiwari (Ram), Deblina Chatterjee (Sita), Akhilendra Mishra (Ravan), Arun Mandola (Lakshman), and Amita Nangia (Mandodari) have taken part in this year’s production.
Politicians including Manoj Tiwari (Kewat), Brijesh Goyal (Angad), Faggan Singh Kulaste (Vishnu), Vijendra Gupta (Janak), and Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Vishwamitra) are also part of the motley crew.
Arjun Kumar, president of Lav Kush Ramlila committee, said that people have welcomed the lifting of restrictions by coming to the Ramlila in full force as more than five lakh invitation cards have been printed and distributed, a rarity.
“We are taking in more than 25,000 people every day and are expecting over a lakh on Dusshera. This year we have used all the latest technology in making the three-tier stage. People come to watch the stunt scenes for which we have used large cranes” Kumar told PTI.
He added the epic battle between Ram and Ravan will be fought entirely in the air using the cranes.
He also revealed that on Vijayadashami, October 5, actor Prabhas will attend the event and will fire the arrow to light the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkaran and Meghnad.
The Lav Kush Ramlila will come to an end on October 6.
At Mandi House, the heart of Delhi’s theatre scene, the 66th edition of Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra’s (SBKK) ‘Shri Ram’ welcomed devotees and theatre-goers with an entirely new crew of dancer-actors, new musical score and costumes designed in-house.
Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra Director and Vice Chairperson, Shobha Deepak Singh said the SBKK’s ‘Shri Ram’ is known for the use of several Indian classical dance forms, including Bharatnatyam, Mayurbhanj Chhau, Kathak, Odissi, and Kalaripayattu that are performed by the Kendra’s students, who are also responsible for makeup, costumes, ornaments and other pre-production works.
“It won’t be a mistake to say that Shri Ram as an absolute in-house production encompasses our lives in its totality making SBKK perhaps the only institution where we ourselves cater for our requirements.
“For years we have involved our students in the pre-production works of our shows, whom we consider as our best asset, this time around we will have them actively participate in the show,” Singh said.
She told PTI that the Kendra’s production has artistes from several states including Odisha, West Bengal, Kerala as well as foreign students from Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela among other countries.
‘Shri Ram’ is also one of the longest running Ramlilas in Delhi as it runs for almost a month, this year starting from September 26 and coming to an end on October 22.
North Delhi’s Pitampura hosts another spectacular show in the form of ‘Broadway Ramlila’. Organised by the Aryan Heritage Foundation, the three-hour long show is performed on a grand “multi-layer stage” with 17 songs by Udit Narayan, Kailash Kher and others, and a narration by Mukesh Khanna.
The ‘Broadway Ramlila’ also incorporates dance forms such as Mohiniyattam, Kathakali, Chhau, as well as contemporary styles such as B-boying.
Talking about staging the Ramlila without restrictions after two years, Rajender Mittal of the Aryan Heritage Foundation said as the scale of the production is huge, it was not viable to do it with a limited audience.
“Two-hundred people allowed to watch a show meant to cater to an audience of about 10,000 would have been cruel. Since the excitement is double, so is our scale. Our stage is bigger, costumes are grander, sets are huge,” Mittal told PTI He added that the story this year has introduced new character arcs that will make the audience rethink the angle of some of the characters.