Four generations of Mathura clan are cast & crew of Ramlila
A troupe from Mathura, consisting of members of a family spanning four generations, is in the city to stage the ten-day long re-enactment of Hindu epic Ramayana on stage at Ramlila ground, Sector 27, that began on Saturday.
The Chaturvedi clan has been participating in Ramlilas for the last 30 years. Ranging between the ages of 11 and 66, all relatives are members of Sri Raja Dhiraj Kala Kendra, Mathura, and will not only stage the Ramlila but also carry out all the non-acting roles in this production.
The act is being directed by Vivek Chaturvedi, a 26-year-old accountant who left his high-paying job in Dubai to pursue his family business. Vivek, who also plays the role of Ram, says his whole family has been involved in Ramlilas for as long as he can remember. “When I was five, I played the role of little Ram, just like my father did when he was little.”
On what drew him to Chandigarh, Vivek says he has performed Ramlilas all over the region, but the devotion of people in Chandigarh has stayed with him: “Ramlilas in Chandigarh still retain the sanctity of the older times. There aren’t any flashy songs and the emphasis is on the story rather than the actors.”
Vivek’s father, Vinod Bihari Chaturvedi, says, “I have been performing in Ramlilas ever since I was 5. I started with the role of infant Ram, went up to play adult Ram, and now I play Ravana. It is amusing that my son plays the role of Ram while I am Ravana.” The 52-year-old has no problem dancing with a 10-kilo crown as part of his Ravana costume.
The clan fond of the old ways aren’t inflexible and have incorporated many new elements into their production. Girdhar Chaturvedi, who will play the role of Ram’s brother Laxman, says, “In mythology, the gods used to often change their appearances so why can’t we? Our outfits have become more modern, and we speak more dramatically, like in a TV serial.”
“The Ramlilas have also become more gender inclusive. Traditionally, the roles of women were also performed by men, but now the women of the family play all the important parts,” Gridhar adds.
The organisers, Shri Ramlila Committee of Sector 27, say they called this troupe to perform this year because of their respect to the old ways. The Ramlila will culminate on October 8 with the Dussehra celebrations.