Ramlila goes digital

With modern technology and fusion music, the Capital saw the retelling of Ramlila in a Broadway-style musical this Navratri

Every Navratri, the entire country witnesses the dramatic enactment of Ramayana in the same storytelling tradition that has been passed down since ages. This year, keeping pace with the ways of Gen X, a Broadway-style Ramlila retells the epic in a digitised way.

At the Sampurn Ramayana organised by Aryan Heritage Foundation, perfect modern technological ingredients in terms of music, sound, choreography, lighting, stage design and costumes, were offered. The first of its kind in the capital, it turned out to be quite an effective way to involve the new generation in the celebrations.

In a three-hour performance, the saga depicts all the events in the life of Lord Ram from childhood to his coronation. “Since it’s a Sampurna Ramayana, the entire story has to be narrated within a particular time span. The time duration of three hours promises that the show will be crisp and entertaining throughout, while conveying the desired message as the language used is simple Hindi,” says Sashidharan Nair, director of the Ramlila.

Unlike any other dramas with just light and sound, this theatrical production has been woven into a Broadway style fabric and embellished with massive multi-layer LED screens, in order to give depth to the scenes and a 3D effect to all visuals. “This level of technology is used only in massive scale productions for Broadway,” the organisers explain.

To ensure that the attention of the audience is not diverted, the scenes played out over a big stage of 180 ft and further divided into six sub-stages to ensure an uninterrupted movie-like experience. “We added the graphic works, so that the audience looks forward to what happens next,” adds Nair.

Nair was a dancer and trainer at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra for 30 years and has been directing Ramlila for the past four years, making her a veteran in dance and theatre. The drama is performed by 120 professional actors and dancers from the National School of Drama under Nair’s guidance.

Since it is a dance drama, music imbues the spirit of the entire performance. “It works as a vehicle to portray not just the events of the epic, but also the intricacies of the characters and the reasoning behind every action,” the organisers add. While 16 soul-touching original soundtracks form the framework of this drama, a fusion of Indian and western music makes it contemporary and ethereal. “If you put too much classical music, people tend to get bored. The music used is a creative medley of classical and folk,” says Nair.

In order to facilitate this unique concept, a host of eminent names in the field of arts came together for the drama. Famous Bollywood singer Udit Narayan sang the title track of the Ramlila and Ravana is introduced by the strong, yet soulful voice of Kailash Kher. The voiceover and narration of the story by sage Valmiki was done by actor Mukesh Khanna.

The Ramlila was staged with the aim to convey the message and teachings of the scriptures to the younger generation of India. “You can’t change the story of Ram but one can work on the presentation of the story,” Nair says.

With around 6,000 footfalls each day at Netaji Subhas Place, Pitampura, the audience was enthralled with the huge scale of the show. Many grandparents came in with their grandchildren to watch the drama. “Sampurn Ramayan presents a unique exuberance of mythology in the contemporary context, and in the grandest and spectacular way,” the organisers say. At the end of the performance, the audience was given candles to perform the final aarti after the show.

“Sampurn Ramayana implements the vision of Digital India by presenting this digi-tale using state-of-the-art technology,” concludes Ishwar Bansal, Chairman of Aryan Heritage Foundation.

+ posts