New Delhi [India], October 11 (ANI): Never-ending claps, laughter, whistles, audience-packed auditoriums — characterize the soul of live performances in an ideal set-up. However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has brought about several changes in the way events are being held these days. Ramlila, the dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Ram that is staged for 10 days and concludes on Dussehra, is not an exception.
Strict restrictions including curtailed live audiences have been imposed. Most committees are only allowing double vaccinated people to enter the Ramlila premises. With such protocols in place, Ramlila festivities of a different kind have been happening in several parts of India, and performing under such circumstances won’t be easy for the artists.
Rakhi Tiwari, who has been performing the role of Shurpanakha at Lav Kush Ramlila at Red Fort grounds for over eight years, opened up about how COVID-19 has affected their performances.
“There’s no fun without a live audience. I really miss pre-pandemic Ramlila acts. People used to cheer for us…their laughs would motivate us to perform even better on stage. Many artists have not turned up this year due to mandatory vaccination status. Only double vaccinated artists are allowed to perform. I understand all these things are important but I am extremely missing the old vibes,” Rakhi told ANI.
Actor Samiksha Bhatnagar, who essays Sita at Delhi’s Ramlila, too, spoke about the changes.
“We did all rehearsals online. We got our scripts a month back and were preparing at our individual homes only. It’s a bit difficult to coordinate over video calls. After our performances, we don’t stay on sets for long,” she shared.Actor Mohit Tyagi is also feeling the pinch of COVID-imposed restrictions on public gatherings.
“This is my second time at Ramlila. I performed for the first time in 2019. Zameen Aasmaan ka farak hai dono saal ki celebrations mein (There’s a huge difference between both the years). Jab audience hoti hai toh man karta hai hum aur mehnat kare taki woh hass sake par ab aisa lagta hai ki humari performance ka bhi best upyog nhi ho paa rha,” Mohit, who enacts lord Laxman at Lav Kush Ramila, expressed.
COVID-19 has affected the income of these artists as well.
“No doubt, we used to get much more than what we are getting now. There’s definitely a pay cut in our industry but I am happy that we all are getting work,” Rakhi added.
Mohit revealed that he is still waiting to get paid for one of his past projects.
“Coronavirus has hit us badly. I have not received payment for one of my projects yet. The makers are also helpless due to COVID. Thankfully, work has resumed. There’s a time when people were not able to earn bread and butter at all. I really don’t want that situation to be repeated,” he said.
According to actor Gagan Malik, who plays the role of Lord Ram in the Lav Kush Ramlila, safety is more important. He urged people to enjoy performances virtually.
“COVID has not gone away completely. People are still getting it. It’s better to enjoy our performances virtually. Safety matters the most. In fact, we have implemented many new things to our acts in order to give audiences the best experience in the comfort of their homes,” he emphasised.
Apart from the professional actors, several school students have also participated in the Lav Kush Ramlila.
“Hum Covid me thak gaye the ghar pe baithe baithe… hume change ki zarurat thi….hum toh bas enjoyment ke lie yaha pe ajate hai aur ye jo bhi role dedete hai woh kardete hai. Isi tarah padhai se bhi break mil jata hai kuch der ke lie,” Harshit, a school student, stated.
Despite several setbacks, artists are still bringing forward the best Ramlila experience for the audience. Happy Dussehra 2021! (ANI)