Nairs’ Ramlila, a class act

Ramayana 4small

Deepak and Ravi Sharma  as Rama and Laxman

By Neena Badhwar

From the very moment Maharishi Vashisht appeared on stage along with his students in dazzling costumes at the Whitlam Centre in Liverpool on April 5, the place turned into a riot of colours, music and dance, the changing scenes intently engaging the audience in the timeless epic Ramayana.

Ramayana 3small

Poornima as the loving Shabri  

Never before has a local Indian production provided dance-drama extravaganza at such a scale that has held the entire audience in awe for over three hours. Ramayana has won everyone’s heart and admiration for a total depiction of the story of Lord Rama and Sita in one evening as many came to witness it second time having seen it last year as well. Audience was enthralled and burst into applause at every scene, associating themselves as a part of the very act. Many rued the fact that they had not brought their young children and grand children to witness the grand epic that represented the good winning over the evil.

Ramayana Raghavan Nair as Rama 1small

Raghavan Nair (left) as Lord Rama in his young days

We have been brought up with Ramayana enaction during the Ram Lila holiday season back in India. I saw Ramayana during my young days in Delhi by the Delhi Kala Kendra and how whole Ramayana unfolded in just a matter of three just three hours  in one evening as one scene followed the other seamlessly. It was Raghavan Nair who was doing the role of Rama in Delhi then.

Each and every scene is so etched in our memory, yet we look at Ramlila and its staging with a know all curiosity same as when kids ask their grandma to relate the same bed time story again and again.

Ramayana 7small

Krish Sharma was quite convincing as the big burly and scary Ravana  

Ramayana in Sydney was equally thrilling and who else was Rama but Raghavan Nair’s own grandson and Poornima Sharma’s son played by Deepak Sharma. If Raghavan Nair looked resplendent as King Rama then Deepak with Keerat Mann as Sita and Raghavan himself now playing the role of King Dashratha was equally impressive.  It was directed by Raghavan Nair and staged by the actors of his dance school Asian Dance Centre.

Ramayana 5small

Raghavan Nair as King Dashratha and Kaikeyi as Suhasini Suimithra

Poornima Sharma, daughter of Raghavan Nair and the force behind ”˜Ramayana’, is the proud carrier of the family tradition. The tale of epic Ramayan is a story of Lord Rama and Sita with its protagonists fighting out the demons and finally calling it the victory of ”˜good over evil’.

The role of Manthra was powerfully played by Poornima herself, and again she appeared in the role of Shabri in the emotional scene of her feeding Lord Rama with her tasted berries as Lakshman was aghast seeing Rama eating them heartily from the hands of his loving devotee. The audience would have liked some scenes of Ahilaya and of the fight between King Bali and Sugreeva even in passing.

Ramayana 6small

Baby Rama played cutely by Layla Rani Nair and mum Kaushalya played by real life mum Charlene Nair

Ramayana was superb as a continuous story enacted through dances, drama and actors playing emotive scenes through mimicry, facial expressions and acting as ”˜Chaupai’ from Ramayana were played in the background. Two scenes that will stay etched in memory for a long time will be Manthra plotting with Kaikai and that of Jatayu following Ravana and being killed.

The stage settings were quickly and ably changed from scene to scene, at times the actors themselves bringing in items and quickly getting into the act. Scenes followed in quick succession, each actor fully immersed in the role ”“ Kaikeyi, Kaushalya, little cute Rama as a child, King Dashratha, Manthra, Lakshmana, Saroopnakha, Ravana and Jatayu and Hanuman to name a few.

Ravana looked big and furious and so did his unruly demon courtier while Mandodiri, his wife, is kind, gentle and reminds him how to behave with women as he threatens Sita with dire consequences if she does not relent to his amorous demands.

Oh, what an excellent performance by one and all.

Papa & Myself Nice

Raghavan Nair with Poornima as he directed and choreographed the dance drama Ramayana with Poornima as the force behind the scenes as well as on stage  

Months and months of preparation has seen Ramayana unfold into a seasoned and an excellent dance drama as Poornima implored on stage, “We should support local artists as opposed to Bollywood shows and appreciate the hard work put in by the young local generation here.”

We are sure that the community will not only support but is hooked to the Ramayana event like Ramlila is in India, a tradition which is now going to be a regular annual event in Sydney.

(Pic courtesy Longmans Studios)

Short URL: