Where do we go now: Ramlila artists resent replacement by TV actors
Luv Kush Ramlila has taken to choosing popular TV faces for playing lead roles. The small scale artists have been given behind-the-scenes roles like that of makeup artists and assisting this year’s main leads.art and culture Updated: Sep 21, 2016 09:45 IST
Small-scale artists, who have played pivotal roles in the Luv Kush Ramlila for years, cry foul on being replaced by popular TV actors, this year.
“I had been playing the role of Laxman for the past six years. But suddenly since last year, the committee started telling me and other actors who had been playing these major roles that they wanted more famous faces. We’re told to merely assist these TV stars in their body language and dialogue delivery right. I miss playing Laxman,” says Lovekesh Dhaliwal.
While some switched roles from playing lead characters to directing, we have Vijay Kataria who began his career with playing Ram in 1994 in the Luv Kush Ramleela. “I played Ram last year, and I wanted to play it this year too. The role has been very close to my heart and I wish the committee hadn’t taken the decision of replacing us with famous TV actors,” says Kataria. This year, “I will be taking care of the makeup of the actors. It’s sad... I will miss my own days on stage,” he adds.
This year, Tamil actor Harish Kumar will play Laxman, Gagan Malik will play Lord Ram, and Gurleen Chopra will be Sita. Then there’s Bhojpuri star Manoj Tiwari as Angad, Ritu Shivpuri as queen Kaushalya, Bollywood actor Ashmit Patel as Bharat, Asrani as Subahu and Bhojpuri star Ravi Kishan as boatman Kevat.
The organisers defend their move saying TV actors are more professionally trained, and that Ramlila audiences have high expectations. “We got a great response with this change,” says Ashok Agrawal, chairman, Luv Kush Ramlila. He adds, “This year to add a touch of reality and professionalism, 11 Brahmins have been roped in to play themselves, as they know the Shastras better. It will be real for the reel this time. For the action sequences and fight scenes, we are inviting aerial act experts. We have planned the devta entries in an interesting way with aerial acts.”