Barrackpore puts Ramleela on Best Village Stage
Ramleela was performed for the first time at the launch of Best Village 2018 at the Barrackpore East Secondary School last Saturday, April 28. It was a proud moment for the members of Satya Drishti and people of Lower Barrackpore.
“The Satya Drishti presented Ramleela for the first time on a Best Village stage,” said Ramcharan Motilal, President of Satya Drishti Spiritual and Sporting Group. “That was historic and it entailed hard work,” he said.
“Our ambition is to take Ramleela to the national stage for all to appreciate and enjoy,” Ramcharan continued. “Our aim is to have a monthly theatre presentation of Ramleela at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) and Northern Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) for the national community,” he emphasised.
Satya Drishti has been working in the community and engaging in staging Ramleela in the traditional manner for the past 12 years. Located in Lower Barrackpore, in 2012, Satya Drishti came first in a competition sponsored by the National Ramleela Council.
“The title of our play was Poisoned Words. It was the dramatization of the events that led to Ram’s banishment to the forest for 14 years. The poisoned words of Mathara destroyed the peace and harmony that was prevailing in Ayodhya,” he said.
“Performing on stage is different from the traditional re-enactment in the open-air theatre,” said Ramcharan. “It entailed detailed planning and rehearsal,” he added.
The Satya Drishti had a cast of near 60. The age range of the actors was between 7 and 50 years with the average age being in the early 20s.
Sudarshan played the role of Ram in Poisoned Words and felt that the “message of Ramleela is universal.” A student of Shiva Boys in Penal, Sudarshan has been performing in the traditional arena, the community and also on stage in school. “It was the first time that I enacted the Role of Shree Ram on stage to my community of Barrackpore,” he said.
Sunil Ramdass, age 38 and a prison officer, assisted in providing the technical support for Ramleela. He has graduated with a Certificate in Technical Theatre from The UWI and uses his expertise to enhance theatre in Barrackpore.
Playing the role of Dasrath in Poisoned Words, Sunil endorses the sentiments of Ramcharran. “I see Best Village as a national space for Hindus to present their views. It is good that a Hindu organization like Satya Drishti is using that space and not only complaining,” said Sunil.
Sunil continued: “The country can benefit from the drama, art and positive message of Ramleela.”
Shoba Ramdass, wife of Sunil, is also active with Satya Drishti Ramleela Theatre. A teacher by profession, Shoba acted as the liason between the officers of Best Village and Satya Drishti. She was instrumental in preparing the scripts and all the necessary paper works.
Ramleela is well integrated with the community of Lower Barrackpore. “The villagers come out and assist with the Ramleela and the business community always reach out to us to provide financial and other support,’ said Ramcharan.
The members of the Satya Drishti were at the forefront of the launch of the recently registered Hindu Parivaar Credit Union, a much needed project in the Hindu community of Trinidad. Definitely creative in its ambition, the Satya Drishti is demonstrating that it is prepared to make the sacrifices to ensure that critical projects are launched and nurtured.
Gowtam Maharaj, President of the Blue Bird Sports and Cultural Organization collaborates with Satya Drishti in several programmes. “I am impressed with the work Satya Drishti is doing. They are doing much needed projects and I am ready to support them. Taking the Ramleela to the stage arena is a giant step providing the nation with a production filled with values,” said Gowtam who was recently elected a member of the Board of Directors of the Hindu Pariwar Credit Union.
Best Village, started in 1963, is a product of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and is the longest running community arts festival in the country. Ramcharan was pleased with the technical support provided by officials of Best Village, especially in the area of directing. He singled out Lennox Gomez aka Wayne for the tremendous contribution he made in the area of directing.
Stacy Basdeo Ramkisson, an officer of Best Village, was high in praise of Satya Drishti. She saw her involvement with the Satya Drishti as “a great opportunity and a unique experience to bring Ramleela to the Best Village stage.”
Stacy said: “The members of Satya Drishti were well disciplined, stuck to their training schedule, and observed all the rules and regulations. I was impressed with their positive attitude and commitment to the project and wish them luck.”