Ramayana goes rock | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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Ramayana goes rock

After the Ram-Lilas seen during childhood and the Ramayana on TV, which ran for infinite years, there has to be a good reason to watch a two-hour long Ramayana musical, writes Sonakshi Babbar...

art and culture Updated: Apr 20, 2011 15:43 IST
Sonakshi Babbar

As the curtains part, the stage is set for Raja Janak's court. Draped in gold and white attire, Rama breaks Lord Shiva's bow and wins Sita as his better half. You wonder if it's yet another 're-re-enactment' of the Ramayana?

After the Ram-Lilas seen during childhood and the Ramayana on TV, which ran for infinite years, there has to be a good reason to watch a two-hour long Ramayan musical.

So when the director of hippie musical Hair, Rudradeep Chakrabarti, comes to town with yet another rock musical - The Story Of Ram and Sita, expectations are unusually high. The Story…is the quintessential Indian Broadway experience with dance, music, drama et all.

Though reminiscent of the famous Broadway musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, this isn't a modern version of Ramayan. As Chakrabarti reveals, "The opera is inspired by Kumoini Ramlila, which took place in Mewar many years back. "The idea was to take our tradition, and make it universal through visual poetry."

With the characters singing the dialogues, The Story... is more an opera than a musical. Rama's Barry White-ish baritone and Sita's mellow voice in the pastoral idyll, makes their love-stuck duet reminiscent of a rock ballad. It's a creation of Jim Morrison night with soft rock, blues and guitar riffs making it a rock opera experience.

The penetratingly etched lyrics have a modern touch to them. The dancers were androgynous figures pirouetting on the stage. Choreographed by Gilles Chuyen, the dancers add the 'item number' touch to the performance.

While Ram Lila is usually a nine-day long performance, Manoj Pant's production, which runs for two hours, is fast-paced and gives a latticed view of the great epic. While a projector showing modernist interpretation of what's going on the stage a unique stage prop, it's a distraction. The set is basically bare, with the dancers stepping in as props.

The diffusion of music, lights and the haunting Basso profundo of Ravans' vocals heighten the Baroque experience of this pulsating theatrical experiment.