Jan 9, 2012

Jaanta Raja.....an experience...

There are certain things in life that become a part of your personality and thinking pattern, unintentionally; just because you are born and brought up in a certain part of the country. I'm a maharastrian, born n brought up in the financial capital of country, Mumbai. I studied in vernacular medium school, which followed Pune Board Syllabus. And so did my parents... learning and knowing Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a part of my life, rather than just school syllabus. Even before I was introduced to written word, I knew about who he was, and what he did. As far as I can recall, "Raja Shivchhatrapati" by Babasaheb Purandare, was the FIRST ever book, I read.

So, what's the reason for this walk through personal history?.... Well, I got back from watching the live event "Jaanta Raja" this weekend.

For those who have no idea what it is, here's a little intro...

JANATA RAJA is a Marathi mega-play based on the life of Shivaji Maharaj The play recreates 17th century scenes, including Shivaji's coronation. The play is enacted against a massive replica of the Shaniwarwada- the seat of the Maratha empire in Pune.

Shivaji Bhosle also known as Chattrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosle (1627-1680) was the founder of the Maratha Empire in Western India in 1674. The play is a tribute to his life and times. 

Ofcourse, none of the descripations on web, comes close to the exact nature and feel of the event. It does not fall into a typical "theatre" event, it ain't drama. Its performed on a stage...yes. But the stage is open air, and part of the ground around the stage is as much a part of the narrative as the stage itself. Its a larger than life dramatisation of events from the life of one of Maharashtra's most loved and respected ruler, Shivaji Maharaj.

Just to get an idea...
Imagine yourself walking up to the venue, which is a huge sports ground BTW, and facing up a grand replica of a typical land fort with high towers and turrets. When you enter the fort, you come face to face with an enormous stage built right on the ground, open-air. Just when you are taking in the intricacies and size of the stage, you hear Babasaheb Purandare's voice boom over the concert speakers, urging you to take a seat and then.... the saga unfolds amongst booming sounds of drum-beats and tutari (which is technically a trumpet, local to Maharashtra.)

You don't get much time to be swept away by the sounds coz you are already taken back in time, to the times before the birth of Shivaji. The times when the country was divided amongst three major rulers, Moghuls in north, Nijams and Adhilshah splitting the rest. The regions of Maharashtra (usually referred as Maval) were plundered and mistreated by the armed forces of the three rulers.The history drives home when you hear the horses hooves booming from the concert speakers...accompanied by "REAL" horses coming out of the right hand side of the stage and gallopping towards the left....leaving you mouths open, hearts pounding. And the heartbeat never really quites down after that. You witness the birth of Shivaji, and enjoy the ELEPHANTS galavanting in front of you. You see his mother coaching him, building his caracter step by step, fueling his desire for freedom from the rules of the Sultans... you see him growing from a wee bit youngster to a handsome youth and then an impressive aristocrat. You witness battles and gorrilla techniques employed by his army to win them. You find yourself amazed at the sheer courage and intelligence he employs to win soooooooo many battles and create "Swarajya" (Free country). You find yourself feeling loathsome at some of the atrocities the people were subjected to and then proud when you see justice being served. You tear up seeing the sheer love and loyalty people had for their Raja; while feeling awed at his wisdom and vision towards his kingdom.

The play / event / dramatisation...whatever you decide to call it, showcases his life from birth to the grand coronation. I wish I could TELL how grand this coronation scene is... trust me, I don't think I can find WORDS to describe what you witness. It actually feels like you have been transported back in time...drumbeats, tutari, elephants, horses and camels parading, people dancing and rejoicing, flower-showers, lights and fireworks and the most impressive representation of Shivaji Maharaj (hats off to Mr. Pravin Shirole, who has been playing the lead role since the play opened in 1985).

I did find a YouTube link for the coronation video... you can check it here... but the actual experience is much much much better and grander than the video...

So, what do I suggest???...well, its simple, NEXT time when you come across an advertisement for "Jaanta Raja"... book a ticket for yourself. (preferably the costliest or the cheapest, don't go for the middle one's) and experience this walk through history... show up a little early at the venue, get seats in the smack middle... trust me, you won't regret it...


  1. May be he best article about Janata Raja ever. I watched it at Wankhede, it's first ever show, and then after watched almost every time it was performed in Mumbai at different venues. It is a lifetime experience, I had to miss it this time, but no problem, will watch in again when it will be back in yre or so. :)

    I always wondered if our generation people went to such performances, and if they really like it. I am happy to rad your review about Janata Raja. and thanks to our vernacular education you write Shivaji Maharaj (and not Maharaja).

    1. Thanks Manasvee.

      Its a performance, I believe everyone should watch. I plan on taking my son to watch it...when he's old enough to understand. I pray to heavens that it plays, and plays as grandly as today till the time.

  2. Well written. I'd like to see one in Bangalore though. Also if I can drop in an advise - please change the font to something that helps easy reading - like Serif etc.

    1. :) Thanx for stopping by and for suggestion.

      I hope you get to see it soon.

  3. Thanks for such a nice article, very well described with apt expressions... sharing on Facebook..


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