THE FIRST time Shivaji visited Indore was in August 1666, enroute to Rajgarh in Maharashtra from Agra. That was because Indore happened to be on his escape route. That is history.
In the past seven years Shivaji, the Janta (enlightened) Raja is purposefully revisiting this city for the third time. In his full grandeur with snippets from the vibrant history he created, the much popular king is set to take Indore by storm.
Nehru stadium is bustling with round the clock preparations for the mega show that unfolds on a stage, which by its sheer size (2,625 sq ft) is no less than a fort among sets. Every inch of it will be taken up by the coronation ceremony, the high point of the magnum opus.
Hundreds of artists, an army of elephants, camels, horses, bullock carts accompanied by fire works transport the audience to the glorious days of Maratha rule. The show will be held from December 24 to 30.
Janta Raja always involves local theatre enthusiasts on the stage. The custom has been followed in overseas performances as well. A Marathi industrial magnate makes it a point to take part in the play whenever he is on a visit to India; some dedication that is.
The three hour seven minute show employing state of art sound and light technology is a spectacular mix of folk traditions, kirtan, pravachan, tamasha and of course, Shiv-charitra. The singular force stemming this mobile kingdom is Baba Sahib Purandare.
An eight year lad eight decades back, with scholarly disposition and a penchant for theatrics was zapped by Shivaji, not accidentally but fate had singled him out for a special task - taking the heroics of Shivaji to the masses.
He has delivered more than 10,000 lectures on Shivaji and has authored three dozen books. After designing and launching numerous events on the life of Shivaji, Janta Raja is his monumental tribute to the great warrior king.
Baba Sahib walked the entire route between Agra and Rajgarh before penning the script. Since April 1984 it has performed more than 700 shows including the historical one in Boston in United States on Independence Day in 1997.
It has been attended by more than 50 lakh viewers including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and other dignitaries.
Despite cumbersome paraphernalia, the show works on clockwork precision, for even a minute’s delay can precipitate a Waterloo, and Shivaji never lost a battle. The great show is not without a cause. It has been helping generously to various charities in the past.
In the centenary year of Guruji Golwalkar, the proceedings of this week-long event go to benefit Sri Guruji Sewadham being built in Indore. It has been modeled after Netaji Palkar Kendra of Mumbai, which provides almost free lodging and food to the poor and needy from rural Maharashtra seeking medical treatment in Mumbai. Sewadham aims to lend a similar helping hand to the underprivileged of Malwa and Nimad.