The day before I left for home, my Masi- Mama- Mami had got together and our idle conversation had turned from the difference between two cultures into how things have changed in India itself. Someone mentioned entertainment and Ram Leela came up. I have never had the luck to watch one in its original form, but we doubled up laughing at learning what ‘original’s used to be in those towns while India was in the twilight zone of change.
Consider, for example, a scene where Seeta needs to be called on stage. The setting is something like, Ram and Sita in the jungle, Ram sees something fascinating, and calls for Seeta — “Seete! Seete! Come here and see this!” When Seeta does not appear I mediately, the calling continues. Then comes a shout from Seeta, ‘Arrey wait – let me finish this BIDI!!!’
Or, the scene where Hanuman is in the court of enemies and heated dialogue is going on. Suddenly Hanuman says, ‘hey, wait – I need to fix this petromax’ and saying that, he begins to pump up the device for more intense light.
In one more instance, mid-show it was declared that someone had announced that he would be donating money to support the Ram Leela shows. Following that announcement, the war cry of the Vaanar Sena were, not Shri Ram ni Jay, but Jivan bhai ni Jay!!!
And finally, the shocker- in the scene of Seeta Haran, Ravan comes over to grab Sita. He does not find her in the hut, because the artist who was playing the character of Seeta had left abruptly or was not appearing for some reason. someone shouts from back stage, ‘Sita is not there, wait’, and the Ravan says, ‘Lakshman will do’ !!!!!
Have not seen a Raam Leela live? no problem – but if you want to know India, you must know what it CAN be like!!!