Ram Navami Special: Being Ram Is Not Easy Even When Ravan Is a Bro
The story of Ram is not just about the victory of good over evil. It is also about the complexity of relationships: human or divine. We know how Sita was kidnapped by a riled brother to avenge his sister’s honour. Ram, the committed husband, jilts Shooparnkha, who in turn complains to her brother, Ravana. For a moment, however, try imagining Ravana as a committed husband and Shooparnkha a doting wife.
Can’t do it? Meet the Ravana and Shooparnkha of Shri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra’s iconic annual production, Ram, a married couple in real life. Actor couple Swapan Majumdar and Suchita Das have been part of this riveting dance ballet for many years.
The actors in this 60-year-old Ramleela have some hatke stories. Here, Sita is actually Gita!
While putting her makeup on, Suchita acknowledges that it is not easy to carry Sita’s sombre demeanour throughout the day for two months of rehearsals and performance. I’m nothing like her, she says.
Oh, and Ram and Ravana are ‘dude-bros’ in real life! Majumdar recalls how Sharma got him his first break in the production. “Swapan was still in school when we got him to try out some of the smaller roles,” he says.
Offstage, This ‘Ram’ is a ‘Sharma ji ka Ladka’
Sharma, 35, has been playing Ram in this Ramleela for over a decade now. Offstage, he’s the real ‘Sharmaji ka ladka,’ a Ram-like son.
Sharma, a Kallari and Chhau dancer, comes to the Kendra every morning. But only after he makes the necessary medical arrangements for his mother, who is battling cancer.
He juggles his acting with his responsibilities at home, where he cooks, feeds and comforts his ailing mother.
Sure, Sharma is a devoted son. But his similarities to Ram don’t end there. His family lives in faraway Ukraine, he says.
Sharma has two sons, a Lav-Kush pair of his own who get excited about his role. “My wife Tanya lives in Kiev, Ukraine along with our two sons. They get extremely excited about my role as Ram.”
Sharma says he misses his family, as Majumdar nods along. “I’ve seen this happen before. This is why I will never play Ram,” he says, hinting at the superstition that is associated with actors who assay the role.
Directed by Shobha Deepak Singh, this Ramleela at the Kendra has set really high goals in terms of design and performance. A tasteful blend of different dance forms like Kathak, Kallari, Kathakali and Chhau, the production also relies on sophisticated light projection, animation, and elaborate set design.
It brings Broadway and Ramkatha together for a lasting impression on the audience’s consciousness. You don’t have to be a bhakt to be mesmerised by this Ram.
Camera: Athar Rather
Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Production Assistant: Vatsala Singh