The Ramayana is the story of the victory of excellent over evil. When the capital’s much-celebrated Ramlila “SHRI RAM,” a dance- drama, opened on Saturday , the staff of artistes on the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra (SBKK), which organises the annual cultural extravaganza, additionally rejoiced on the victory of their optimism over the all-pervading pessimism brought on by the coronavirus illness pandemic. In any case, they managed to stage the spectacular ballet based mostly on the lifetime of Lord Ram at a time when many Ramlilas throughout the town have both been cancelled or truncated for lack of time to make preparations, restrictions imposed to curb the unfold of the viral illness, and delayed official permissions.
Placing collectively the dance-drama — a singular fusion of many types of Indian classical music and folks dances, martial and acrobatic arts, masks and make-up types — which requires months of preparation, was a formidable problem when pandemic is raging. Shobha Deepak Singh, who has directed this distinctive model of the Ramlila for nearly 5 many years, says she was decided to attempt to be certain that there was no break within the annual occasion, first staged in 1957 underneath the stewardship of her mom Sumitra Charat Ram.
The SBKK’s Ramlila has, through the years, seen the participation of some the most important names in classical music and dance, and has figured prominently on the capital’s cultural calendar.
“ The one factor that fearful me was getting the permissions on time. However we wished to begin rehearsals, and so every of our 60 artists and technicians underwent a corona take a look at and everybody examined detrimental and the rehearsals acquired underway in August,” stated Singh, sitting in her workplace, adorned with Indian artefacts and artworks.
“Although everybody examined detrimental for the coronavirus illness, we began rehearsals in small batches with all vital precautions. There have been temperature checks on a regular basis and when within the inexperienced room, everybody wore masks. We put up all artists within the hostel inside the campus and each one underwent a take a look at each 15th day,” stated Shashidharan Nair, the choreographer of the presentation for the previous 25 years.
Amongst those that weren’t certain if they’ll be capable to carry out in entrance of a dwell viewers was Raj Kumar Sharma, who has performed Ram for the previous twenty years now. The coronavirus was able to springing a nasty shock anytime.
“ Whilst we rehearsed, most artists weren’t certain that finally the occasion shall be staged, pandemic was removed from abating, and even by late September the permission to carry the occasion was nonetheless awaited, ” says Sharma, sitting in entrance of a big mirror within the inexperienced room with massive desk mirrors. Costumes, masks, crowns, bows and arrows grasp on the wall.
Singh got here to the rehearsals every single day to make sure that new information costumes and scenes that she had launched this 12 months got here via properly. For the uninitiated, the SBKK Ramlila can be pageantry of regal costumes and jewelry, lots of which is impressed by the works of painter Raja Ravi Verma.
“I’ve been consistently experimenting with music, make-up, units, lights, costumes, jewelry and expertise in order that our manufacturing has one thing contemporary to supply to the audiences,” says Singh, who believes that expertise and custom co-exist. Final 12 months, she launched a number of LED screens on the open-air stage to show many scenes comparable to Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevani Booti; Ram and his military crossing the ocean into Lanka over floating stones – which gave the presentation a really feel of a Three-D visible extravaganza.
She was glad with the preparations. In mid- September,. it was time for all to endure one other coronavirus take a look at.
This time, the coronavirus did spring a nasty shock. Singh examined optimistic. Everybody else, fortunately , examined detrimental.
Many artistes thought it was curtains for the present as she shifted to a hospital in Gurgaon. “ Our spirits sank. However she stored telling us from hospital to maintain the rehearsal on, to be able to stage the Ramlila even when we acquired the permission final day. The rehearsal went on in her absence,” says Nair.
Singh returned after two weeks to a cheering welcome by the artistes. However the permission to carry the Ramlila had not but come. Singh activated her plan B – between October 10 and 12 , the Ramlila was recorded to be screened on YouTube in case the dwell occasion needed to be cancelled on the final second.
However, lastly, the federal government gave its go-ahead, with riders, for the occasion. And the stage was set for the inauguration of the 64th version of the SBKK’s Ramlila. Preparations had been made for seating about 100 individuals for causes of social- distancing, not like prior to now when about 600 might see the Ramlila every single day.
On Saturday, it was 6 pm, half an hour earlier than the present. Singh was contained in the inexperienced room of girls’s artistes, having a phrase with Madhavi Rastogi, who’s enjoying Sita. Rastogi is busy adjusting her jewelry, her fellow artists lending a serving to hand. There are additionally different younger girls artistes enjoying feminine characters—Kaikayee , Yaraka, Manthara—touching up their lips, faces, eyes, all lastly excited to carry out earlier than the dwell viewers a lot of whom, sporting masks, have already taken the seats positioned at fairly a distance from one another. “ I really like enjoying Sita, which is kind of an emotional curler coaster trip for me; however what saddens me is the truth that girls proceed to face ordeal by hearth to show themselves every single day, ” says Rastogi.
Singh says that for her, the Ramanaya is basically a saga of devotion, loyalty, endearing household relationships, and respect for elders. “ So, now we have at all times tried to make our model of Ramlila entertaining and enlightening. I’ve studied Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas deeply over the past 50 years, and a very powerful lesson I’ve drawn is that to err is human, to forgive divine,” she says.
It’s 6.30 within the night, and the open-air stage at SBKK has come alive. The inaugural present has begun as scheduled.