Ramlila’s new avatar: Lip sync battle on stage, streaming live on Facebook | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Ramlila’s new avatar: Lip sync battle on stage, streaming live on Facebook

God is in the details: Gone are the days of thunderous dialogue delivery and live background score. At least 10 of the 45 Ramlila groups in Chandigarh are going the karaoke way — lip syncing to a recording.

punjab Updated: Sep 27, 2017 10:59 IST
Ifrah Mufti
(From left) Artistes from the Sector-17 Ramlila committee — Sunil Sharma (Dasharatha), Kamal (Sita), Gaurav Bagga (Rama), Puneet Jain (Kaikeyi), Saurabh Sharma (Lakshmana) and Kapil Puri (Kaushalya) — taking a selfie in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
(From left) Artistes from the Sector-17 Ramlila committee — Sunil Sharma (Dasharatha), Kamal (Sita), Gaurav Bagga (Rama), Puneet Jain (Kaikeyi), Saurabh Sharma (Lakshmana) and Kapil Puri (Kaushalya) — taking a selfie in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Anil Dayal/HT)

The subject is epic. The actors bask in the limelight. And there is still a dedicated audience for Ramlila, the grand story of Lord Ram. God, however, is in the detail.

Gone are the days of thunderous dialogue delivery and live background score. At least 10 of the 45 Ramlila groups in Chandigarh are going the karaoke way — lip syncing to a recording. Ramlilas are usually amateur productions, and pop culture parodies show production crew prompting actors from a script (even with a placard) when they forget dialogues.

“We are now competing with television. We analysed ideas on how to attract and make the audience sit through the performance. That’s why we got digital audio recording done four years ago, and the characters only have to synchronise the lip movement. It cost us Rs 1,000 an hour; for the 10-day Ramlila, we have 20 hours of recording,” said Mukesh Sharma, a member of Ramlila Mandal, Sector 28.

The prompt was a visit to the US fours year ago. “We wanted to be sure we did not mess up, so we used the recording mode there. It worked, so we adopted it here too,” he said.

He listed a prime reason, “At times, the actors are weak; and sometimes they forget dialogues. What do we do in such situations? The audience will not be interested if there is no proper sound or dialogue delivery.”

The committee in Ram Darbar is trying out recorded vocals for the first time. And it’s a DIY, do-it-yourself, model in this case. “We downloaded some versions from television serials, scene-wise, and edited with a mobile app,” said Ravi Kumar, an assistant director and actor with Ramlila Mandal, Ram Darbar. He said the response is “really good”. “We don’t even need instruments for the music now, because the serial’s music track is attractive. The dialogues too are clear to the audience.”

“Social media made me really popular. People call me by my character’s name more often than as Tarun.”

The committees are also reaching out through social media. Many have created Facebook pages, which the actors use to stream their performance live. “Even children are on Facebook these days, and they make sure that when they are playing roles on stage, somebody is uploading their live videos on Facebook, for their family and friends to watch,” said Rajesh Sood, director of the committee in Sector 24.

Tarun, a businessman who has been playing the role of Ram for nine years in Manimajra, said, “Social media made me really popular. People call me by my character’s name more often than as Tarun. It is also the best platform to spread knowledge about Lord Ram and Ramayana among youngsters who may not come to watch but can see the live streaming on phones.”

Akash Chaudhary, who plays the role of the demon god Ravan in the Sector-20 Ramlila, has made his own little club of “villains”: “On social media, I am in touch with actors playing the role of Ravan in other cities and states. We share dialogues, practice through video chat, and then share feedback after the performance.”