Ramayana in Popular Culture

By: Surinder Jain.

Contemporary books on Ramayana

Production of Ramayana continues even today. Contemporary versions of the Ramayana include

  • Sri Ramayana Darshanam by Dr. K. V. Puttappa in Kannada and 
  • Ramayana Kalpavrikshamu by Viswanatha Satyanarayana in Telugu, both of which have been awarded the Jnanpith Award.
  • A prose version called Geet Ramayan in Marathi by G.D. Madgulkar was rendered in music by Sudhir Phadke and is considered to be a masterpiece of Marathi literature. The popular Indian author 
  • R. K. Narayan wrote a shortened prose interpretation of the epic. 
  • Ramesh Menon wrote a single-volume edition of the Ramayana, which has received praise from scholars.
  • A short version with a somewhat contemporary feel, appeared in Martin Buckley’s Ramayana-based travelogue, An Indian Odyssey (Random House London, 2008).
  • C Rajgopalachari, India’s only Indian Governor General, also wrote a single volume Ramayana, published by Bhavans in 1957.
  • From 1951 to 1975 a team of the University Grants Commission (India) supported researchers who worked on and published a critical edition at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSU) Oriental Institute.[24] Based on this, in 1996 an abridged translation into English, was published by writer Arshia Sattar under the Penguin publishing house Valmiki Ramayana.
  • In September 2006, the first issue of Ramayan 3392 A.D. was published by Virgin Comics, featuring the Ramayana as re-envisioned by author Deepak Chopra and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur.
  • Author Ashok Banker, authored an eight-volume imaginative retelling based on the Ramayana which found considerable success and was credited with ushering in a new wave of interest in the epic as well as other mythological retellings.
  • Banker’s version took considerable liberties with the original Sanskrit epic yet found critical acclaim. It is claimed to be the most popular retelling of the epic currently.
  • More recently, popular Indian lyricist, music director and singer, Ravindra Jain wrote the Hindi version of Ramayan named, Ravindra Ramayan (ISBN 978-9351862604) which was published after his death. RJ Group, which was formed by Ravindra Jain and his family, has uploaded all the kands (cantos) of Ravindra Ramayan on YouTube.
  • The latest in the retelling of the epic is from Ravi Venugopal, a US-based NRI narrating the story from the eyes of Rama. The first volume of the I, Rama trilogy is Age of Seers and is narrated by an age old Rama who introspects his life and the events happening with a pragmatic view. The book explores new perspectives of several characters and tries to give a scientific lift to the ancient epic.
  • The Song of Rama by Vanamali
  • Ramayana by William Buck and S Triest
  • Ramayana:Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel
  • Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana By Devdutt Pattanaik
  • Hanuman’s Ramayan By Devdutt Pattanaik
  • Rama Chandra Series by Amish Tripathi, a fictional retelling of the Ramayana. It has 3 books till now — Ram: Scion of IkshvakuSita: Warrior of Mithila, and Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta.
  • Shri Rama Katha Series by Souhardya De, a drama and a poem, namely, Scion of Suryavansh, and Chronicles of Suryavansh.
  • Asura, Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan, a novel.

Films based on Ramayana

TV Serials based on Ramayana

Ramayana based Art

Ramayana essence has been expressed in a diverse array of regional cultures and artistic mediums. For instance, the Ramayana has been expressed or interpreted

Theater based on Ramayana

  • Starting in 1978, and under the supervision of Baba Hari Dass, the Ramayana has been performed every year by Mount Madonna School in Watsonville,[25] California. Currently, it is the largest yearly, Western version of the epic being performed. It takes the form of a colorful musical with custom costumes, sung and spoken dialog, jazz-rock orchestration and dance. This performance takes place in a large audience theater setting usually in June, in San Jose, CA.[26] Baba Hari Dass has thought acting arts, costume-attire design, masks making, and choreography to bring alive characters of Sri RamSitaHanumanLakshmanaShivaParvatiVibhishanJatayuSugrivaSurpanakhaRavana and his rakshasa court, Meghnaad, Kumbhakarna, and the army of monkeys and demons.
  • Late Tamil Actor R. S. Manohar played Ravana as the Antagonist in his Magnum Opus Lankeswaran, in which he projects the heroic and better side of Ravana. It was staged more than 1,800 times.[27]
  • Kanchana SitaSaketham and Lankalakshmi – award-winning trilogy by Malayalam playwright C. N. Sreekantan Nair
  • Lankeswaran – a play by the award-winning Tamil cinema actor R. S. Manohar
  • Kecak – a Balinese traditional folk dance which plays and tells the story of Ramayana
  • In addition, there are thousands of Ram Mandli in Fiji and India who perform Ramayana on stage.

Comic series on Ramayana

  • Artist Vikas Goel and writer Vijayendra Mohanty have created a ten-part comic series called Ravanayan that presents the story of Ramayana from Ravana’s perspective.[28]
  • Following the success of Ashok Banker‘s Ramayana Series retellings, a graphic novel adaptation was released in 2010.

Exhibitions on Ramayana

  • Gallery Nucleus:Ramayana Exhibition -Part of the art of the book Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel.
  • The Rama epic: Hero. Heroine, Ally, Foe by The Asian Art Museum.
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