Know Thy Ravana: Actor Mukesh Rishi is the main villain at Luv Kush Ramlila
Mukesh Rishi is no stranger to playing villainous characters, but this is the first time he will play Ravana — the villain that India loves to hate — at the popular Luv Kush Ramlila in Old Delhi. The actor, both excited and nervous, talks to us about the character and how he plans on making it one that Delhiites would remember for long.
PLAYED ALL PARTS OF RAVANA
“Being an actor, and a villain for various movies, I’ve played all parts of Ravana’s persona already. But as familiar as all these parts of it may seem, playing Ravana is a different ball game altogether,” says Rishi. “When you’re playing a character in a movie, you can add your own touch to it and modify it to suit your style. That cannot be done with Ravana. And not because you’d be messing with mythology, but because the masses know the character too well.”
WAS PURSUED FOR THREE YEARS
“Bobby from the Ramlila pursued me for three years and kept insisting that I should play Ravana. My only response to him used to be, “Mai nahi kar sakta. Jis din andar se aawaz aayegi, mai haan kar doonga.” However, Bobby kept insisting, and this year when he called, I picked up the phone and said, “I’m ready. Tell me what is to be done,” says Rishi.
ON ONE CONDITION
“When I agreed to play Ravana, I only had one condition that I get to modify the dialogues,” he says. “One has to maintain the purity of the text, but the dramatisation and the emotion behind it can be toyed with. I ended up adding my own set of verses and dialogues to it and I hope that the audience will love them. These little interactions with the audience gives them something to remember and take home with them. I want them to remember this Ravana and not treat it like just another actor taking up the same old character.”
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
“I have been practicing for the past two and a half months at home, and just did a stage round. I was told that the stage is massive, so back at home, I used to practice in my hall which is pretty spacious. I used to recite the verses while doing my daily chores and was even doing so on my flight to Delhi. Woh kehte hai na, practice makes perfect, bass waisa hi samajh lo,” says the Mumbai resident.
THE PUBLIC LOVES SHADES OF GREY
“Ravana isn’t the usual villain. He is smart, has a personality, and has shades of grey which make him a complex character. There is versatility in the role and I plan to maximise on that,” says Rishi. “The public loves grey... Ram is their hero, the man they want their son or husband or brother to be, but Ravana is the life of this story. Take him out of the equation and our hero will not have his moment. I want to play the character in a way that they genuinely enjoy it when Ram kills me in the end. Acchai ki buraai par jeet li khushi feel honi chahiye unko.”
I FEEL LIKE A BRIDE WEARING THIS COSTUME
“A bride’s dress is 10-12 kgs these days, but on her special day, she forgets the discomfort. She dances in it, walks in it and enjoys. I feel the same way in my Ravana costume. It is a heavy and decorated piece, and is really hot to be in, but when you’re on the stage wearing it, everything fades out. The heat is gone, that shoe bite isn’t bothering you anymore, the armband doesn’t itch, you just feel one with it, as if its an extension of you,” he says.
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