Just heard the desi way of promoting local Ram Leela… the tempou with a big bhompu , an enthusiastic voice inviting one and all to come and see the Leela, at a particular place and time. I noticed the people around who were more bothered about their daily routine rather than even listening to the announcement. The only time the announement could gain attention was at the ending phrase, ‘Jai Shree Ram’, which echoed in the environment subtly ,fearing being heard.I was forced to speculate,will the outcome of the performance of this great Indian mythological prodigy be different than other years?
Ram Leela, the saga of bravery, truth and victory of good over evil re enters our lives with the local area leaders and the chamchas planning the performance, stage, guest list and hatkey factor from past so many months. How fruitful their efforts will be, is already known to them. The gentry they know is now mainly of hooligans, pick pockets, joota chors, rickshaw wallas or the ones who are deprived of the luxury of possessing the idiot box and are looking for an outing mixed with religion. The keen audience at Ram Leela is nowadays limited mainly to the C and D strata of the society. The ‘A’ class will be busy attending lavish jagratas and arranging VIP darshan passes for various temples, the upper B will be trying to act like A , the middle B will be too busy fasting, working and watching their daily soaps carrying the festive flavor and the lower B will be confused lot finding excuses why not to go to the Ram Leela.
I have often heard the plea people make to justify why they do not promote this traditional form of Indian art: arrey it is too chatak, poori overacting kartey hain, we already know the story, Ramayana is again coming on TV, the place is too full of gundaas, it is not safe at night, itni door kuch bhi theek sey nahi dikhta, arey ek baar toh aisa hua tha ki…and so on. Some being real, some funny and some true fictions.
Today’s times are a total contrast to the one’s when all muhallah people went together with children to see the great epic depicted with grandeur. When every dialogue of honesty, an action of bravery resulted in a huge round of applause and the suffering of Shree Ram and his family or devotees brought genuine tears. The artists were shown admiration in form of money being paid to the Ram Leela group by an elder which was followed by a big announcement during the break time.
The Ram Leelas’ have changed keeping contemporary times in mind. They have become hi-tech with better light and sound facilities, costumes, make up, props and high quality background work .The entertainment quotient has also been enhanced by adding various performances of local talent which ensures the audience does not leave during breaks.
This time do ensure you go ahead to witness the positive changes in the illustration of this great epic. Appreciate and admire the dedication of the local talent who have taken up the task to safeguard the cultural heritage and are competing with the digital world. Let’s not deprive our happening generation from a live experience of this majestic art form.
Well, I am done with my job, the effect, I am not bothered this time, it has to be, ‘Ram Leela’.:)