SANGEETA SANJEEVAN has taken six days off from her job at a gym where she is salsa and zumba trainer. But she will be working all six days plus five more: as Sita at the Ramleela in Sector 20, Chandigarh. Her classes at the gym are on alternate days.
“I teach aerobics and zumba to a group of 20 students at a gym in Zirakpur and by next month, classes for salsa will also begin there. I have a busy schedule in the evening as I am occupied with my students at the gym but since performing in Ramleela has become another interest now, I took six days’ leave from the gym to get into the characters of Vedavati (an earlier incarnation of Sita) and Sita in the Ramleela,” Sangeeta told Chandigarh Newsline.
Last year, Sangeeta had played the role of Soorpanakha at the Sector 28 Ramleela. But she says the roles of Vedavati and Sita are more challenging. Her aerobics and zumba training is helping her too – at one point, Sita has to collapse on the stage and Sangeeta says her hard-earned flexibility will be useful for that scene.
Sangeeta graduated from Government College of Sector 42, Chandigarh, in 2011. After that, she joined a professional fitness training institute in Mohali where she learnt salsa, zumba, yoga and other fitness techniques.
Being Christian, says Sangeeta, she did not know much about Ramleela when she was growing up, but her interest in acting got her the Soorpanakha role last year at Sector 28 and this year’s plum role. “My religion is not relevant here. I am an actor and I want to work on good roles. My family has no objection that I am in a Ramleela,” she says.
“Performing in Ramleela and that too the main character of Sita is challenging. I started with playing the character of Vedavati on Tuesday. All the dialogues were in verse and saying them out without a break in front of a live audience was quite a challenge,” said Sangeeta.
Another character she would love to essay is that of Kaikeyi, the mother of Bharat. “It is a strong negative role,” said Sangeeta, adding that if given a role of male character, she would like to play Raavan.
“To perform such big characters of Ramleela, I have been practising for the past one month and even now when I am free, I keep practising my dialogues which I have got photocopied. I have performed salsa at several competitions in different states in India with my salsa partner but it is an art which is learnt once and practised. But playing different roles in Ramleela in front of the public is sometimes difficult. If I make a mistake, I have to improvise on the spot,” she said.
Last year’s Soorpanakha was just a one-day role, but this year’s role of Sita continues from the beginning to the end.
“The audiences think of me as the real Vedavati and Sita and in order to give an authentic performance, I have to become the part. Apart from learning my act from my director, I have also started to internalise the role of Sita. I won a lot of applause on Tuesday,” added Sangeeta.
Her mother Raj and brother Sandeep were in the audience on Tuesday, which Sangeeta says, made her immensely happy. She will be playing Sita at Sector 20 Ramleela from Thursday.