Lucknow: The real life story of Ramlila characters | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Lucknow: The real life story of Ramlila characters

Artistes of Bhaskar group, who play various roles in Lucknow’s famed Aishbagh Ramlila, are like an extended family. They tease each other, crack jokes and spread joy. They also respect their elders and all the women in the group, says Bhaskar Bose, who has been directing the Aishbagh Ramlila for the past decade.

lucknow Updated: Sep 27, 2017 16:49 IST
Anupam Srivastav
Left to right:Shankar Pal( Ravan), Prince Biswas(Shatrughan), Prashant Parida (Bharat), Priyanka Bose(Sita), Rahul Chatterjee(Ram) and Prasanjit Saha(Lakshman) in Lucknow.
Left to right:Shankar Pal( Ravan), Prince Biswas(Shatrughan), Prashant Parida (Bharat), Priyanka Bose(Sita), Rahul Chatterjee(Ram) and Prasanjit Saha(Lakshman) in Lucknow.(Deepak Gupta/ HT Photo)

Lucknow’s Aishbagh Ramlila has a history of nearly 500 years.

It was so popular among the masses that it was patronised by the Nawabs of Awadh and the then leading businessmen of the city, including ‘Padhaji’ – father of deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma.

The importance and popularity of Aishbagh Ramlila can be gauged from the fact that last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended Dussehra celebrations here.

This year Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu is expected to attend Dussehra celebrations.

Selection of artistes and groups is done carefully by the Ramlila Samiti. This year too, 280 artistes who are participating in the Ramlila have been thoroughly screened by the committee in the last three months.

“Artistes of Bhaskar group, Kolkata, have been called to play the roles of Ram, Sita, Laxman, Bharat, Shatrughan and Ravana after a thorough screen test,” said general secretary of Aishbagh Ramlila Samiti Aditya Dwivedi.

“These people are from various professions but they come here as they enjoy acting in Ramlila. It brings them recognition not only in Lucknow but in their state too,” Dwivedi said.

Artistes of Bhaskar group play various roles in the city’s famed Aishbagh Ramlila, are like an extended family. They tease each other, crack jokes and spread joy. They also respect their elders and all the women in the group, says Bhaskar Bose, who has been directing the Aishbagh Ramlila for the past decade.

HT caught up with these artistes at the Aishbagh Ramlila compound on Monday. And they opened up about their life, motivations and love for Ramlila and Lucknow.

Rahul Chatterjee, who has been associated with the Bhaskar art group of Kolkata for the last eight years, is a businessman by profession and an actor due to his love for the art. All these years, he has been travelling to Lucknow to play the much sought-after part of Lord Ram.

Back in Kolkata, he has a business of broadband connections and wishes to take it to greater heights. “I love to come here and act in Ramlila. I take a break for a month from my business. That’s why I work very hard all round the year...to be able to take out this time for Ramlila, which is my passion,” he said.

Priyanka Bose, who has been partnering Chatterjee as Sita for the past eight years, is a teacher of Bangla language at a school in Kolkata . Speaking to HT, she said, “Initially, my school had objections to my taking a month off from work for Ramlila, but now they understand that it’s my passion. I work hard all year long to be able to participate in the show. I am also fond of Lucknow, its food and people. They are all so welcoming and cool.”

Shankar Pal, who has essayed the role of Ravan for the last decade, said he was selected by the Aishbagh Ramlila committee as he resembled Arvind Trivedi, the actor who immortalised the part in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan.

“I am a full time artiste working in serials of Zee Bangla, Star TV and DD 7. Besides, I am also a make-up artist. So, when there are no roles available, I get busy doing the make-up of other actors.”

Pal said that understanding the character of Ravan takes time. “On one hand, he was a great scholar...so knowledgeable. But, despite all that, he went on to commit a crime that invited the wrath of none other than Lord Ram. I get inside the character before the play. That’s why people like me in the role,” he said.

Prasenjit Saha who plays Lakshman, Prince Biswas who essays the character of Shatrughan and Prashant Parida who plays Bharat are all students and fond of acting.

“Lucknow has always been a paradise for art and culture. Many Bengali families are settled here and have adopted the city like their own. On completing my studies, I would like to make my career in the field of art and culture,” said Saha.