Portrayal of the masked dance Chhau in one of the episode of Uttar Ramayan

With the re-run of Ramayan in the television, age no exception, elders, youngsters and children are being glued to the television and enjoying the delights of Ramayan. Undoubtedly, there has been no stone unturned for the greatest serial to make its place in the hearts of millions of people. The great director Shri Ramanand Sagar Ji along with the entire cast and crew have taken up the huge task of making each and every moment of the Ramayan a memory in the hearts to stay forever. Each and every shot, even if a small part of the story, was picturised with utmost care and authenticity making them very devotional. One such example is the various kinds of dances being portrayed in the serial.

There are a number of dance sequences which have appeared in the serial, like during the introduction of the demon king Ravan, during the coronation of King Sugriv, and also during Bhagwan Ram’s coronation as King of Ayodhya. All these dance sequences belong to the classical Indian dance forms and were well performed. Apart from these dances, there is one special dance form which was performed as a sequence in the court of Lavansur, in the Uttar Ramayan series.

The dance which was picturised is the masked dance of Chhau and is one of the Indian Classical dances of India. Chhau is performed in the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odissa. It has three divisions in it which are the Mayurbhanj Chhau, Purulia Chhau and the Serikelai Chhau. Chhau is derived from the word Chaya meaning Shadow. The themes for the dance are mostly from the Ramayan, Mahabharat and Shiv Puran. There are also dances based on animals and birds too.

The dance seen in this sequence was the Purulia Chhau, which is a masked dance. It is acrobatic in nature and has lot of movements with jumps which are called the ulfa, rounds in air, and many more vigorous and energetic movements. In this dance form, the dancers wear huge head gears, elaborate colourful masks and colourful costumes. The masks are made of paper, in a place called Charida in the district of Purulia, West Bengal. They have big drums and pipes as musical accompaniments. The dance is usually done in big grounds and is quite vigorous and requires lot of practice and coordination.

This dance sequence is a theme where a tyrant lion attacks the animals and then the great warriors come and save the animals by killing the lion. It is indeed to applaud the creative genius of the director Shri Ramanand Sagar Ji who filmed the dance while comparing the suffering of the people of Mathura, to the dance wherein the animals are suffering from the attack of the lion. While showing the arrival of Shatrughan, the dance shows the warriors coming and killing the lion and safeguarding the animals, just as how Shatrughan would kill Lavanasur and safeguard Mathura. Through depicting the dance sequence, he portrays metaphorically that the great warrior.ImageSource

Shatrughan has come to save them and Mathura gain a righteous ruler of Dharma. This shows the director’s utmost respect towards Indian arts and culture too when he selected a heritage dance known to very few, in those times to be picturised in the serial. It is indeed true to say that Ramayan always has a beautiful message to spread, be it even through a very small dance sequence too.