Muslim artists play key roles in Prayagraj's Patthar Chhati Ramlila

By Express News Service

BHOPAL:  An artist is an artist, who knows no religion. This is the guiding theme of a light and sound Ramlila show in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj district.  Four Muslim artists are part of the Ramlila staged by Patthar Chhati Ramlila Committee. Hamid (make-up man for all the characters), Huma Alam, Alimuddin and Shehzade form the quartet. They are among around 80-90 artists behind the Patthar Chhati Ramlila since 2001.

“Our Ramlila is around 100 years old, but it was reinvented with a light and sound show on the pattern of Ramanand Sagar’s tele serial Ramayana. The four Muslim artists are a seminal part of our Ramlila,” Patthar Chhati Ramlila Committee director and Allahabad High Court advocate Dilip Tiwari told this daily.

Alimuddin, who plays the roleof monkey king Bali, in hisperformance costumeWhile Hamid is the make-up man,  Alimuddin plays the role of monkey king Bali, Huma Alam plays the role of sage Vashistha’s wife Arundhati and demoness Trijata. Shehzade is seen in the role of King Dashrath, Lord Ram’s father. “Another Muslim artist plays the role of demon Mareech and other mythological characters. They are important to our Ramlila, just like artists from other communities,” Tiwari said.

Lone woman Muslim artist Huma is elated at performing twin roles, “Artists have no religion and playing the roles at Patthar Chhati Ramlila is extra special. I never felt I was a Muslim, as there was never any problem from our team or the viewers owing to me being from another religion,” she said.

Alimuddin said, “I’ve been part of local theatre groups for a long time and part of this Ramlila since five years. The satisfaction of being part of the Ramlila is inexplicable.” With the Patthar Chhati Ramlila Committee’s Ramlila, staged in Rambag area of Prayagraj, being in Hindi and not in Awadhi or Sanskrit, helps the Muslim artists enact the mythological characters with ease.

According to the Ramlila Committee’s vice-president Dharmendra, the Ramlila is around 100 years old, but the glamour of light and show was added to it in 2001. “We can’t imagine the Ramlila without our Muslim brothers.” Since 2001, the Ramlila is given special effects, like characters using elevated platforms.