A dimpled chocolate boy from television, an award-winning Bhojpuri star, a brawny Bollywood villain, and a Bigg Boss winner allegedly involved in an IPL scam will headline one of the biggest Ramlila performances in Delhi this year. In reverse order, they are Vindu Dara Singh, Mukesh Rishi, Shubhi Sharma and Vishal Malhotra, who will essay the roles of, respectively, Vishwamitra, Ravan, Sita and Ram during the Luv Kush Ramlila, to be held from September 21 to October 1 on the grounds of the Red Fort in Delhi. Others stars are Anup Jalota as Kewat and Shankar Sahni as Raja Dashrath. Manoj Tiwari, who plays Angad, is Delhi BJP President
“I think we act out the Ramayana so that children can watch it. I have watched Ramleela many times, and this is the first time I will be have a role in Luv Kush Ramlila. I have been Hanuman so many times on stage and on screen that I have lost count of it. It is my father (wrestler Dara Singh) who is the real Hanuman. When you close your eyes and imagine Hanuman, it is him you see from Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan. The important thing about the Ramlila is the message, which I will work hard to convey to the audience,” said Singh, after the announcement at the Constitution Club on Sunday.
The 40-year-old Luv Kush Ramlila is a carnival of amusement rides, food stalls, thousands of people streaming through the extravagantly lit grounds and colourful presentations of episodes of the Ramayana every evening. Ashok Agarwal, President of the Luv Kush Ramlila Committee, says this year will be bigger. “Cable cars will be fitted like chariots flying through the air. We are using a lot of technology in the war scenes. You will see arrows shot from either side, colliding and bursting into flames,” he adds. Pyrotechnics and elevation of characters using cranes, last year’s attractions, will be repeated this year but the chief talking point, Agarwal hopes, “will be the 100 stages to mark the episodes”. The special effects will peak with the burning of the effigy of Ravana on the final day of the Ramleela.
“When we burn the Ravana, we are symbolically destroying the evil in our society. We need to remember this after the Ramleela is over,” said Rishi, whose character, Inspector Salim, in Sarfarosh remains iconic for the dialogue, “Phir kabhi kisi Salim se mat kehna … yeh mulk uska ghar nahi.”
Malhotra has played Krishna three times but it is his first time as the maryada purshottam. “When you play a fictional character, you can improvise but when it is Ram or Krishna, you cannot play it without believing in them and inculcating their ideals,” says the actor, adding that his father rarely watches his work because he plays negative roles.
“This time, I hope he will watch me as Ram,” he says. His father, too, had played Ram in his younger days. But, no actor seems to have prepared for the role as much as Sharma, who has won the Bihar Asmita Samman, among others. “If I get a choice between the role of a sexy girl and Sita maiyya, I will choose the latter. On screen, I have dressed and behaved as any other modern girl would but, at heart, I want to be like Sita. She went to exile for 14 years with her husband. I can do so too,” she adds.