Groups performing the Ramlila in the city have taken to the use of digital effects to rope in huge crowds and keep the audience entertained.
Ramlila performances in areas like Kavi Nagar have witnessed a major shift due to use of special effects.
“The basic of storytelling remains the same and has not deviated from the original script. We have incorporated 50 special effects, special lights and other sounds to give a more realistic effect to the performance. A huge LED screen has been put up to display effects in the background when the artistes perform on the stage,” said Saroj Kanta Panigrahi, a light coordinator from the theatre group Sanskriti.
“The storytelling is in a natural flow and is kept simple to be able to communicate with the audience. The characters don’t really have to learn the difficult verses from the Ramayana. We play the narrative and dialogue delivery using different audio effects. People also get emotionally attached as they witness real-life scenes due to sound and special effects,” said Rajiv Raj Gupta, director of the performing group Sanskriti.
Crucial parts of Ramyana like the ‘Sita Swayamvar,’ ‘Surpankha episode,’ ‘Sita Haran’ and ‘Ram Rajyabhishek’ have become more thrilling and colourful with the huge LED screen in the background coupled with the sound effects.
“In these scenes, we play backgrounds such as waterfalls, Raj Mahal, lightning, blood spots which are synchronised with the actions taking place on the stage,” Gupta said.
Unlike the strict selection of boys and men from Brahmin families in traditional Ramlila groups, the modern groups comprise mostly amateur artistes who are attached to diverse professional backgrounds. Some of them work with reputed institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and agencies like the Delhi Metro. Others come from diverse professional backgrounds such as law, merchandising, administration and NGOs.
“I was not inclined towards theatre initially but went with the group to perform in Ramlila festivities. For this, I stock up my leaves and avail them during the Ramlila period,” Nisha Gupta, who works in AIIMS, said.
Deepak Saini, the artiste who performs the character of Hanuman, is a student of fine arts at the Lalit Kala Mahavidyalaya.
“My study includes anything that is creative, be it applied arts or painting. I have been interested in theatre since my school days,” he said.
The director of Sanskriti, Rajiv Raj Gupta, holds an MBA degree and works for an NGO which is engaged in medical research.
“Since we all come from diverse backgrounds and our main work is to interact with people, the Ramlila performance becomes easy. It is different from the traditional format where you have ‘chaupais’ from the Ramyana. Many people who attend the programme find it hard to understand the traditional verses. We have simplified these (verses) in our digital Ramlila,” Gupta said.