OpeRama is derived from Opera & Rama

This page is dedicated to the memory of Himanshu's parents, Devendra and Hema Joshi and his Uncle Mohan Upreti.

Due to their efforts, Himanshu sampled a very significant part of Kumaon’s culture and heritage. Kumaon is a part of Uttarakhand, in the foothills of the Himalayan Ranges.

He performed Operas and the songs of the region. When Mohan Upreti passed away, Himanshu found himself thinking about what his uncle lived for and what drove him to do the things he did. This set Himanshu on a quest to find his roots.

OpeRama is the first step toward this journey. The word OpeRama comes from two sources- Opera & Rama. This form of ‘Ramlila Manchan‘ or the enactment of Lord Ram’s story, is based on the Operatic style of presentation- couplets are sung, not spoken.

This project was the biggest Himanshu had undertaken till then. A chance meeting with Dr. Ramakar Pant of IGNCA paved the path for him. With support and help from IGNCA, he started planning the documentation of the Kumaoni Ramlila or OpeRama.

Himanshu has been associated with OpeRama for the last three decades, steadily ascending the theatre form's hierarchical ladder. He had been, at various times, background singer, Laxman, Ram and ultimately Ravan.

This led him to believe that he knew the form and the lie of the land.

He discovered that all his 'knowledge' was brought to naught. Himanshu says of his discovery, “I was so naïve.”

What he saw and heard was far larger than anything he had anticipated. It, to put it colloquially, blew him away.

Himanshu lost himself to this wonderful world of lyrics and music. He wanted to record this oral tradition for posterity. He was back to school.

He wrote copiously, comparing and re-assimilating his notes, singing with the masters of the form, till he was hoarse with exhaustion.

At last, he finally had the basic structure.

Since the idea behind this compilation was to preserve as much of the form as possible, Himanshu decided to provide an audio reference for each composition, with an accompanying notation structure reference. This would help anyone interested to fully appreciate the beauty of this form. He also believes that the compilation will act as a ready reckoner for any one intending to mount a performance of the Kumaoni Ramlila.

Himanshu has tried to assimilate compositions from two regions - Almora and Pithoragarh. He believes that these constitute the two major schools of OpeRama performance.

Naturally, the presentation style of the project is filtered through his perception of the same. This would be true of any artistic venture.

Himanshu believes that this is a beginning. The end is still not in sight, since there is so much more to be explored and understood.

If this work could be expanded further it would benefit not just the culture of the region, but would also leave behind a musical legacy for future generations.

What is presented here is but a foretaste of the total work.

It took 4 years to accomplish this.

Presently there are 485 compositions in text and aural form and notation structures with raga and tala defined clearly. Alongside these is a 47 minute long documentary tracing the origin and the journey of the form, till the present day.

This is the first step in a journey of a thousand miles.

The next is to unearth other forgotten or fading cultural pages of the " Kumaon Chronicles."

Remembering Robert Frost, Himanshu says, “I have miles to go before I sleep.”