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E. Suresh’s Cover Art : The Story Behind the ‘Ravanhatta’

The ad film producer and graphic designer illustrates India’s rich tradition of classical music in the Ravanhatta

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Mar 29, 2014
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E Suresh

E Suresh

E. Suresh & Eeksaurus

E. Suresh aka Suresh Eriyat is a graduate of National Institute of Design (NID) who has contributed immensely to the field of Indian animation. Having directed and produced more than 350 films, his works have won more than 100 national and in­ternational awards. A staunch believer in design process, Suresh founded Famous House of Animation in 1998, a year after graduating from NID. In 2009, he created Eeksaurus along with his wife and partner Nilima Eriyat, who is also a graphic de­signer and animator. Eeksaurus is a premiere ad film production company with an in-house animation studio that houses 50 talented artists, animators, visualizers and designers. Apart from painting, illustrating and filmmaking, Suresh is also a trained Carnatic music vocalist, who is currently studying Hindustani music.

The Idea

That India has a rich tradition of classical music is a very well known fact. At the same time, it is unknown that it has such a deep and rich history of folk music and folk instruments. Here is a fascinating story about one of Rajasthan’s popular folk musical instrument called ‘Ravanhatta’ or ‘Ravanhasta’.

Ravan, the 10-headed king of demons was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He played the veena for the lord and pleased him with his beautiful recitals so much that Shiva started his ‘Anandatandav’ dance to the music. As the veena recital grew intense, so did the lord’s dance. Suddenly the ‘siras’ (head) of the veena broke. Without thinking twice, Ravan cut one of his heads and attached it to the veena and continued his performance. And when the veena’s ‘ambhana’ (sound board) broke, Ravan cut one of his 20 hands and replaced it. The folklore further goes like this. The strings broke next. Ravan plucked out his veins and attached it to the veena. Neither did the music stop nor did the Lord’s dance.

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So the instrument he created was called ‘RavanHatta’ or Ravanhasta, which means the hand of Ravan. Little would one know from the folklores, how a South Indian music instrument could have traveled all the way up north to become Ravanhatta in Rajasthan.

E Suresh

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