Laundryman by the day and Ram by the night
Twenty-seven-year-old Umesh Kumar, who plays the role of Lord Ram at the Ramleela being organised in Sarabha Nagar, is a laundryman by profession.
Umesh wakes up at 6:30 am and opens his shop at 7 am and works there till 5 in the evening. He said he practises his dialogues while doing his work.
“I reach the Ramleela ground near the Kali Mata Mandir at 6 pm. It also takes half an hour to be ready with costumes. It is a tiring schedule, but the feeling of playing an important role and entertaining hundreds of people gives me the happiness which makes me overcome the tiredness of the day,” said Umesh.
Kumar, who hails from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, said that he visited Ludhiana 13 years ago in 2005 to meet a close family friend, but decided to stay here. “Inspired by the lavish lifestyle of people here, I made up my to do some business and opened a makeshift laundry shop in Sarabha Nagar,” he said.
Kumar said, “In my childhood, my grandfather used to tell me stories from the Ramayana. I was fascinated by the character of Lord Rama and studied it deeply as I also had a hidden feeling of becoming an actor. Seeing my interest in the Ramayana, my grandfather persuaded me to join Ramleela and become an actor. I began with the role of Ram at may native place. In the beginning, the performance was not up to the mark as I hesitated a lot and sometime even forgot dialogues. But, with time hesitation gave way to confidence,” he added.
He said he had played this role continuously for three years before coming to Ludhiana.
Kumar begins practising his role a week before the Ramleela. “I memorise my dialogues by singing as ‘bol bol ke yaad nahi hota’ (Can’t memorise them just by reading out,)” he added.
“The Ramleela here goes online and my wife and three-year-old son, who live in Amethi also watch me performing here. All my neighbours and friends there get together at my house to see me,” he said.
Daresi’s ‘Ram’ is a student
Pawan Jajra, 17, a student of Class 9 in a private school, who is playing the role of Ram at the Ramleela Ground, Daresi, also attends his school without a miss.
“I do not want to hamper my studies. So, I am going to school regularly. In 2016, I had played the role of Shatrughan and even at that time, I was attending my school everyday”, Pawan said.
Jajra said he wakes up at 7:30 am and attends his school till 12 pm. “According to the ritual, I have to sleep on the floor during the days of Ramleela. But, somehow he is managing the situation and happy to play the character of Ram,” he added.