|the-south-asian.com DECEMBER 2001|
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DECEMBER 2001 Contents
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CONTEMPORISING AN EPIC THROUGH BALLET
- Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra
For the last 45 years, Delhi’s Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra’s name has become synonymous with the enacting of the annual Ramlila - a ballet based on the epic Ramayana. Every year there are newer interpretations and efforts on the part of the organizers to make it more contemporary. "The basic idea behind these changes was to make the dance-drama contemporary and to convey the real meaning of the epic to a larger section of the audience", says, Shobha Deepak Singh, production director and vice-chairperson of the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra.
This year, for the first time since it began in 1956, the language has been changed from Avadhi to Hindi - so that the message of the epic can reach a wider audience.
Some of our best-known epics are replete with stories of valour and courage. Most Indians identify with tales that come with large dollops of religion and morality. Leading the way are Ramayana and Mahabharata, which even after thousands of years are still close to people's heart, as because they are relevant even today.
The skillfully interwoven plot of a series of extraordinary events and episodes crammed with adventure and excitement in the form of battles, abduction, deceit, love, faithfulness makes these epics everlasting and eternal.
Ramayana has stood the test of time. It's a tale which has been told and enacted year after year during Dussehra celebrations all over the country. The tale of good triumphing over evil is performed in a myriad of ways. In many places, the text is chanted in temples in a singsong manner. In other settings, it is enacted live on stage. At times, it is read aloud and actors mime the actions. And yet, another way is to perform it in the dance drama style.
For the last 45 years, Delhi’s Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra’s name has become synonymous with dance drama. And over the years, it has built a great following of people who return, year after year, to view this spiritual and cultural extravaganza time and again.
This Ramayana ballet is performed through dynamic dance sequences, striking rhythmic patterns of footwork, ornamental hand gestures, facial expressions and body postures in a contextually appropriate manner unlike conventional presentation.
What sets this Ramlila apart from the thousands of others being staged around India is that it relies on an excellent script. Every year there are newer new interpretations and efforts of the part of the organizers to make it more contemporary to hold the audience interest.
This year, for the first time since it began in 1956, the language has been changed from Avadhi to Hindi, so that the message of Lord Ram can reach every nook and corner of the country. The title of the dance-drama has also been changed from simple Ramayana to Ram-A Paragon of Exemplary Values.
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