Magical music of Zakir Husain, Rahul Sharma and voice of Amitabh Bachchan mesmerises
Ramayana is one epic that all artist derive inspiration from, be it dancers, actors, musicians or painters all have brought alive the epic through their art. This mythological tale will never go out of fashion and will always motivate generations to come.
Renowned director Kunal Kohli’s latest OTT directorial venture, Ramyug which is streaming on MX Player, is a perfect blend of the nostalgic saga of Ramayana and modern VFX technology. Ramayana is an ancient literary text that is an integral part of the Indian culture. We all know the story of the righteous king Ram and his Ramyug, it has been narrated in various movies, plays, books and TV serials over years, yet it never seems to get old.
This series portrays the quest of Ram, the prince of Ayodhya, in bringing his beloved wife, Sita back from the clutches of the King of Lanka, Ravan who has kidnapped her. What follows is not just a story of revenge but also of kindness, compassion, love and righteousness. We have all grown up with this epic tale. It is evergreen and never seems to get outdated. The reason for this is all the lessons, morals, and values depicted in the Ramayana are relevant for today’s times as well. These fundamental values have stood the test of time and have a lot to teach us even today.
Let us take a look at some of these time-tested lessons from the Ramayana that have left a huge impact on the Indian psyche through the lens of Kunal Kohli’s Ramyug.
The good always triumphs over the evil
At its core, Ramayana is a battle between good and evil. Ram, who showcases a perfect example of what an ideal human should be, takes on the challenge of defeating the mighty Ravan. Ravan is also knowledgeable and very powerful. Yet Ramayana teaches us, no matter how mighty the evil, the good, even in its simplicity, is powerful enough to destroy it.
The value of relationships
Ramayan beautifully paints the picture of the bond that Ram and Lakshman share. When Ram is sent to exile for 14 years, Lakshman follows Ram and becomes his shield against all the difficulties of the world. Apart from Lakshman, Bharat is also an example of what an ideal brother should be. Even after being handed the Kingdom, Bharat never considers himself to be a true king and promptly gives it over to its rightful ruler, Ram, when he returns from the forest. Thus, Ramayana teaches us that good relationships are the most valuable treasure a human can possess.
Unity in diversity is highly important
When Ram sets on the path to bring back Sita after being kidnapped by Ravan, he is not alone. He has the support of the Vanar Sena that is led by Hanuman. On the surface, the Vanar Sena and Ram don’t seem to have much in common but yet they join forces to defeat the evil. Ramayana teaches us that no matter how different we might seem from some people, if we come together, we can defeat even the strongest of evil.
Love and kindness
Ram is considered to be the epitome of positivity, love, kindness and forgiveness. We can learn lessons like how to mutually love and respect from him. Whatever role he plays in his life, be it of a son, a husband or a friend, Ram makes sure that he fulfils all his responsibilities with calm and composure.
How important good friends are
The importance of friendship and the company we keep is highlighted throughout many places in Ramayana. We get to know the friendship between Ram and Hanuman who come together in their quest to defeat Ravan. The devotion and respect that Ram and Hanuman share is everything we should be looking for in a friendship in today’s times.
These and many more lessons of Ramayana are beautifully depicted in MX Player’s ‘Ramyug’. Talking about his new wed series Kunal Kohli said, ‘I made Ramyug keeping the younger generation in mind, Ramyug is my way to pay tribute to the epic. We shot the series mainly in Mumbai and the forests of Mauritius with huge support from the Mauritius government.’
The soundtrack of Ramyug is by Santoor player and musician Rahul Sharma who has also composed and sung songs for Ramyug. Talking about his music Rahul Sharma said, ‘I wanted an amalgamation of classical and modern sounds for the show’s soundtrack. We tried to get the best artistes to perform as we wanted to get the perfect mix.’
Rahul further added, ‘Ramyug is all about Ramayana, so Kunal Kohli, the director, and I wanted the best of the Indian classical world to combine with today’s sounds. For each song, we worked on different combinations. For the ‘Jai Hanuman’ song, I requested Amitabh Bachchan ji to sing it, and was delighted when he agreed. Then we thought Ustad Zakir Hussain playing the tabla on the song and it made such an unique combination.’
Rahul also sought the contribution of his father, renowned santoor player and Padma Vibhushan recipient Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, along with Padma Vibhushan recipient flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. Together, the duo were known as Shiv-Hari and had composed numerous Bollywood hits, particularly in Yash Chopra films such as Silsila, Chandni, Lamhe and Darr.
‘For the Ram-Sita theme song, I had Sonu Nigam and combined it with Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia playing the santoor and flute respectively,’ he said, adding ‘The other songs feature Ustad Rashid Khan, Pandit Bhawani Shankar on pakhawaj, Narayan Mani on veena and, finally, the Raavan theme song that I sang. I think the subject of ‘Ramayana’ drew in the classical greats and, of course, I have been part of the classical and film world for more than 20 years now.’
He feels these legendary musicians gave the songs a totally different feel. “So many different maestros added a few of their melody personality traits and vibe to the music, and I was humbled by them.’ he says.
Kunal Kohli’s web series ‘Ramyug’ has interesting elements from magical music by the legends in Indian classical music, beautifully shot picturesque location in Mauritius, great VXF effects and at the same time illustrating valuable teachings from the Ramayana that are still relevant in today’s times. If you wish to look at Ramayana in a new light don’t miss to watch all episodes of Ramyug streaming now on MX Player, for FREE.
Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore from Pacifica University USA, an honorary doctorate in performing arts from the National American University, He is a World Book Record holder, a well-known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honored with three National Excellence awards, one National Achievement Award, Dada Saheb Phalke award and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Bharat Puraskar by the Government of India. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Rabindranath Tagore Prize for Social Achievement. He can be contacted on [email protected]