BENGALURU: Bengalureans got to witness the Ramayana like never before. Presented in a Disney-esque fashion, the production by city-based Abhinava Dance Company was staged in order to commemorate 25 years of their existence, and had 70 artistes on and off stage who helped out with it. The venue for the show, Chowdiah Memorial Hall was packed to the brim on Friday evening, the day it took place.
“As a story, Ramayana is popular and connects with everyone. It also has multiple characters that make it interesting -- Gods, celestial beings, demons, animals. Everyone’s inner child likes to be entertained with a fantasy story, so we wanted to bring out the Ramayana as a fantasy musical,” said Nirupama, who founded the company with Rajendra, while talking about Rama Katha Vismaya (RKV).
Told as a bedtime story by Yashoda to Krishna, the 90–minute show brought out iconic instances from the Indian epic -- Sita’s swayamvar, Ram fighting demons, their exile to the forest, chasing the golden deer, Ravan’s kidnapping of Sita, Rama’s homecoming – with eclectic choreography set to the lyrics penned by Shatavadhani Dr R Ganesh and music composed by Praveen D Rao.
But besides the godly beings, this version of the story also had animals, plants, trees, birds and more coming to life on stage. Since Rajendra and Nirupama are both fans of animation, it comes as no surprise than Walt Disney has been an inspiration for them.
“We have seen various Disney shows and animated films, so we wanted our show to also fall in the same entertaining category. And Walt Disney’s characters are filled with emotions. So in RKV, we made every character come alive as well, besides using extensive props, lighting and costumes to make it similar to a Broadway musical,” explained Nirupama, who played Yashoda and Shurpanakha in the play.
Rama Katha Vismaya marked day one of the company’s three-day festival Parva, and was attended by dignitaries like former Chief Justice of India M N Venkatachaliah, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka Dr Ashwath Narayan CN, filmmaker Rajiv Menon and classical dancer Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam. Choreographer Saroj Khan, who was also present, said that despite the show being in Kannada, she was able to follow it, which she called, “a dream”.
Agreed Subrahmanyam, who added, “I have seen grand ballets in Canada, Russia and France but this show made us proud of India. It was a harmonious blend of old and new, and classical and modern.”
Audience members too shared similar opinion, some even coming from outside Bengaluru just for the show. Dermatologist Dr Rashmi Shetty, who hails from Mumbai, was all praise for the “Disney-tisation” of the show, adding that the sequences involving Raavan and his 10 heads was one of her favourites.
The second day of the festival, which took place on February 15, had an interdisciplinary conclave, whereas the third day, slotted for February 22, will recreate Madanothsava, which is a more-than-1,000-year-old festival to welcome spring.