Tech to bring traditional tale to life over 9 days
New Delhi: From a three-hour show in Janakpuri replete with light and sound in the manner of a Broadway production to traditional performances by troupes from Moradabad in the shadow of Red Fort, Delhi’s Ramlila organisers are ready for the nineday annual re-enactment of the Ram saga. Attractions also include Bollywood actors, television stars and a host of political leaders in theatrical make-up.
Three of the city’s biggest Ramlilas are organised on the Red Fort grounds. Sri Dharmic Ramlila Committee has been around for 96 years. “We are the oldest Ramlila in the city and we bring troupes from Moradabad and Bareli for our shows. These professional actors live a complete satvik life during the Ramlila manchan,” said Pradeep Sharan, an organiser.
Sharan’s colleague Ravi Jain disclosed that a unique food court — the Janak Bazaar — is being set up where all the delicacies and chaats of old Delhi will be available. Top government dignitaries, including President Ramnath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and heads of political parties visit this Ramlila on Vijay Dashmi.
Across the road, the Nav Sri Dharmic Leela Committee proposes this year to use tech to woo younger audiences. “In our 62nd Ramlila this year, our goal is to attract youngsters. We will employ a hydraulic stage, LED screens and sound technique to make the show more immersive for them,” said committee member Rahul Sharma. “We will also encourage people to check in on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and get rewards.”
At the third big do at Red Fort, the Luv Kush Ramlila Committee, according to organising panel member Ashok Agarwal, will have a large number of TV actors striding the stage. “It will be a star-studded affair,” he promised. He added that the Ramlila will also have politicians acting as various characters.
In east Delhi, Dalip Bindal of the Indraprastha Ramlila Committee revealed that the focus of the Ramayan enactment this year will be awareness about religious texts and improvement in family relationships. “While we will get 12,000 children to participate in our quiz contests, we will also highlight how technology is disrupting the inter-family relationships,” he said.
As usual, the Indraprastha Ramlila Committee will have a poll to determine the “Aaj Ka Ravana”, a fourth effigy to be burnt besides Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhkaran. “The top contender for the fourth effigy this year is plastic pollution. Running close behind is the impact that WhatsApp and Facebook have on inter-personal relationships,” Bindal said.
In Janakpuri, the Ramlila will take the form of a Broadway staging. Former south Delhi mayor Narender Chawal, member of the organising committee, said. “The special three-hour manchan will make full use of technology and light and sound effects.”
Many Ramlila committees in the Northwest will rely on grand stages to catch the attention of the devotees. J K Bansal, president of Nav Sri Keshav Ramlila Committee in Rohini’s Japani Park, told of how the organisers had developed a special 142-feet stage. “We have taken inspiration from the Sun Temple in Konark and replicated it for our stage,” he said.
The stage put up by the Sri Sanatan Dharam Leela Committee too builds on the temple tradition. Praveen Kapoor, secretary of the committee, revealed that it resembles the Prem Mandir of Vrindavan in Mathura. He added, “Another unique feature in our Ramlila is an aerial flight by Hanuman at a height of 100 ft. A set of cranes and trolleys will be used to make this feat possible.”
LET THE SHOW BEGIN: ‘Maharaj Dasharatha’ lands by crane at Red Fort Lawns; a participant gets ready for action