Like every 90s kid, I have grown up watching B R Chopra’s Mahabharat and Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan. All the actors who played roles in these epic series have been part of my childhood and were also my first brush Hindu as an identity. So much that even now if I were to imagine Lord Ram, an image of Arun Govil, who played the role of Lord Ram in the serial, pops up.
Another such fantastic actor was Arvind Trivedi who played the role of the demon king Ravan in Ramayan. Wearing black robes, golden crown and jewels, he fit the role of an arrogant, powerful king. Amongst other scenes, one that has been etched in my memory very clearly is the part where Ravan had prayed to Lord Shiva and recited the Shiv Tandav Stotra, the powerful Stotra which he himself composed.
The original clip is not available, likely because of copyright issue, but I do hope everyone gets to see them on Doordarshan channel. When I grew up and saw the rerun, I got curious and started to memorise the Shiv Tandav Stotra. It is so tough that even now I can recite first three stanzas without reference and next 3-4 if I’m reading it from somewhere and remaining I just cannot. Maybe some day I will.
When I met ‘Ravan’
My memory fails me and I am mixing up years, but it was either sometime in 2002 or in 2006 when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was on a fast. I maybe wrong but it was likely 2002, just few months before the state assembly elections or in 2006 while protesting for Narmada dam. I do remember the place, though. It was at GMDC ground in Ahmedabad.
A lot of people had come to show support to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. I got to know that Arvind Trivedi was also going to be there. I decided to go see how it is there.
I was thrilled to see Arvind Trivedi on stage. Soon, audience requested him to recite the Shiv Tandav Stotra. I was thrilled beyond words. ‘Ravan’ was going to recite the Shiv Tandav Stotra I have been trying to memorise. And he did. The audience clapped in rhythm and the atmosphere was so divine. I still get goosebumps.
When he got off stage, I rushed to him. He was surrounded by fans. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi looked at us as we stood around Arvind Trivedi. I told him that I loved listening to him and that I am also trying to memorise the Shiv Tandav Stotra, having drawn inspiration from him.
“Really? You must recite with me, then,” he said. “Chal, sharu kar (come, start),” he said. And there, ‘Ravan’ Arvind Trivedi and I recited first stanza of Shiv Tandav Stotra as Narendra Modi looked at us. Arvind Trivedi then put his hand on my hand and blessed me.
Today, when I saw the news of his passing, a part of my childhood died. He acted in close to 300 films in Gujarati and Hindi, both. But he was always Ravan for me, and for many others like me.
May Mahadev bless his soul.
I shall leave this short recital of Shiv Tandav Stotra as my small tribute to him.
— Nirwa Mehta (@nirwamehta) August 9, 2021