While most of us know the famous legend of Ravana, Rama and Sita as one shrouded in mystery, a renowned lyricist/composer duo have taken it a step further.
What was the real story of the legendary Ravana?
History, it seems, does not tell us this. "The account we have of the Rama-Sita-Ravana story is one in an Indian perspective, and does not give a very detailed version of who Ravana really was except for the fact that he ruled Sri Lanka," explained Diliup Gabadamudalige, who will be working once again with Uddaka Tennekoon to produce an all new musical production to be staged next year.
Having successfully produced Guttila in 2004, Diliup and Uddaka went on to stage Revenge, a sequel to the Guttila story. Here too, a curiosity as to what happened to Musila and Guttila his nemesis after the famous duel of the violins, was what began the concept for Revenge.
Getting back to the present, the newest venture by this team is Ravana. The Ramayana is essentially an Indian story and glorifies the actions of the hero Rama whilst at the same time vilifying those of Ravana, the king of Lanka. Says Diliup, "Uddaka wanted to depict Ravana in a more benevolent light than that in which he has been portrayed hitherto. Possibly a more factual account based on the true qualities of Ravana, the king of Lanka."
The Mahabharata is said to state that the kidnapping of Sita – Rama's wife – was also done not to satisfy his carnal desires. In fact, Ravana was goaded into this act by his evil sister Supharnika who claimed that her honour and that of Lanka had been abused by Rama and his brother Lakshmana.
"Perhaps," reflects Diliup, "Ravana cannot be depicted a hero in the true sense of a champion. However, he does deserve a more honourable mention than that in which he has been portrayed hitherto. He is certainly not the villain he has been made into."
While the concept, script and lyrics have recently been completed, the musical score by Diliup Gabadamudalige is well on its way to completion. As with Revenge, the production will be directed by Jerome De Silva, and Guttila Productions (established by Diliup Gabadamudalige and Uddaka Tennakoon) is considering working with the members of the Workshop Players for the production.
Who was Ravana? Was he a true villain? And what was his story?
Possibly, the production Ravana has the answer to this historical/ mythological question. Await the staging of this original musical, and find out!