A tailor by profession, Rajesh Bagga takes not more than two hours to transform himself into Surpanakha and Bharat, the two characters of Ramlila he has been enacting for 22 years now.
For the 41-year-old Sector-46 resident, acting in the Sector-17 Ramlila is more of a family affair.
He drew inspiration to participate in it from his father Sohan Lal Bagga, who used to perform in the Ramlila of the same sector. And now, his 11-year old son too acts in it.
Rajesh has also played many other roles in Ramlila and loves playing the role of Bharat, the younger brother of Rama, and Surpanakha, sister of Ravana.
“My entire family has been associated with Ramlila,” says Rajesh, with a smile while sitting at his shop in Sector 22. “Profession does take a backseat as we have to ensure that rehearsals and jobs related to Ramlila are taken care of to ensure it passes by without any hiccups,” says Rajesh.
“All the characters in this Ramlila are played by men. Also, every participant is expected to be disciplined and sleep on the floor,” he adds, as he instructs his employees to complete the orders of stitching at hand.
His son Varun plays the role of Luv, one of the sons of Ram. “My family used to come to see Ramlila and this is how my son also got inclined to act, reminding me how I wanted to act when I saw my father act on stage. He does his best to strike a balance between studies and rehearsals,” says Rajesh.
On how technology has changed the staging of Ramlila, he says, “We have set up a 90-foot stage with three sets, where the Ramlila is being enacted. We are using light to do away with the practice of drawing and opening of curtains.”
On how they go about it, he says, “As soon as the scene is over in one section, the lights are switched go on in another area of the stage and the next scene starts immediately. This means that there is no delay between scenes, thus making the audience's experience more enjoyable.”