Delhi’s Ramlila this year would be full of special effects all the way from Bollywood. Not just top action directors, actors and VFX team but grand stage designs will be the showstoppers at Old Delhi in October. SANGEETA YADAV talks to the Ramlila committee chief on their modern mores to dramatise epic folklore
Call it adrenaline rush or just love for live stage performances, new faces are taking to the Ramlila as never before. With an aim to catching the attention of the youth, the Luv Kush Ramlila Committee last year introduced veteran actors Puneet Essar and Asrani. The effect was amazing and the show became the talk of the town.
This time around, 40 actors have been roped in from TV and Bollywood, most being Bigg Boss contestants. “We’ve roped in talented actors who will be trying their hands at live performance. There is Gagan Malik as Ram, Gurleen Chopra as Sita, Ashmit Patel as Bharat, Pankaj Dheer as Dasharath, Puneet Essar as Ravan, Ritu Shivpuri as Kaushaliya, Sudha Chandran as Kakai, Aryan Babbar as Narad, Ravi Kishan as Kevat, Mukesh Tiwari as Narantak, Preeti Jhangiani as Ahiliya, Asrani as Subahu, Raza Murad as Janak and Shakti Kapoor and Ranjeet as Khad Bhushan. Then there’s Meghna Kothari as Sulochana and South Indian actor Deepak as Kumbhkaran,” says Ashok Aggarwal, chief organiser of the Lav Kush Ramlila Committee.
Wrestler-turned-actor Jagdish Kali Raman, who was Salman Khan’s coach in Sultan, will also be playing the role of Ahir Ravan. “Apart from wrestling, I’m a commentator with Doordarshan and Sony Max for the Pro Kabaddi League and now I am working with Star Sports for Rio Olympics. It was after acting in Sultan that I gained a lot of confidence and learnt from big stars and directors. When this opportunity came, I thought to give it a try and I am looking for more acting avenues,” Jagdish tells you.
For Jagdish, it is going to be the first time in Ramlila but for Kripa Shankar Patel, another wrestler who coached Amir Khan in Dangal, saying yes to Ramlila was a great opportunity to relive his childhood days “I will be playing the role of a spy named Maareez in Ramlila. Though I am not an actor, as a kid I used to act in Ramlila at my hometown in Son Khedi village in Madhya Pradesh. Once I got to play a monkey’s role whose job was to hop from one place to another. Now, I’ve a lot of curiosity about knowing how Maareez will unfold,” Patel says.
Apart from the interesting line-up of actors, the committee has decided to utilise the open head space to show the flying chariot. Indra’s courtroom will be constructed mid air. It’s going to be a grand affair with professionals on board to choreograph action sequences and the use of advanced technology.
“Last year, we used a crane to show the flying chariot but this time we will go a step ahead by creating Indra’s courtroom in the sky. We will have Bollywood-style action sequences choreographed by Kaushal Moses, who choreographed action for Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. There will be advance LED technology and special effects to show the scenic backdrop and special effects like beheading of Meghnath and the fountain of blood,” Agarwal says.
The makers have also roped in Vishnu Patel, costume designer of Ramanand Sagar’s, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and Nazia Khan, costume designer of Siya Ke Ram and 12 dance groups will be performing on different days. The dialogues will be written in Hinglish. “Most people don’t understand archaic Hindi so we have slightly changed the language so that laymen can understand. The play will be broadcast with English subtitles,” Agarwal says.
The live Ramlila will start from 6:30pm and go on till midnight without a break. It will be simultaneously broadcast at ashrams, religious places and news channels.
“There will be an OB van of the Ramlila committee from where we’ll give broadcast the Ramlila live to the electronics media, ashrams and TV channels across the world. We’ll be uploading videos on YouTube and the Ramlila website. So far, we have got around 100 requests for a live Ramlila on their channel,” Aggarwal says.
(The article got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/the-works-for-this-years-ramlila.html).