Becoming the gods they play | Dussehra in Old Delhi

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Becoming the gods they play | Dussehra in Old Delhi

Backstage is where the theatre comes alive. Backstage is what breathes life into theatre. The stage wouldn’t be what it is if not for its other half. Its better half. Hurried hands and feet, busy with a kaleidoscope of activities, preparing for a world of wonder to be unveiled.

Sawari in Old Delhi                       Photo By: Etti Bali

It is here that we met the gods. Krishna Verma and Deepak Verma are brothers from Muradabad. Every year, around the time of Ram-Leela celebrations, they come to Delhi. Krishna, the elder brother, plays Lakshman and Deepak, the younger brother, plays Ram.

Deepak, playing role of Ram          Photo By Etti Bali

He has been playing the titular role for the last nine years and loves everything about Ram-Leela–the story, the sets, the costumes, the lights. He has read the Ramcharitmanas several times over.

ram leela dussehra old delhi
Photo By: Etti Bali

“Often, people come to meet us, touch our feet and take our blessings. They think we are the gods that we play. But we are not,” he says, his face devoid of any expression as his makeup is setting in. The glitter around his eyes and the bright orange lip tint illuminate his features. 

Krishna, playing role of Lakshman         Photo By Etti Bali

Next to him, Krishna is getting his costume fixed. In the 14 years that he has been taking part in Ram-Leela, he has played various characters, but playing Lakshman is what he enjoys most. In between tucking the pleats of his dhoti, he tells us that he is a singer back home.

Photo By: Etti Bali

Costumes in place, the brothers take a small break for refreshments before ascending the stage as the revered princes, all set to make their journey to Mithila.

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