The Tenth Head

Director’s Note & Synopsis

The Artists with the Tenth Head

The Artists with the Tenth Head – a still from the Adishakti production “The Tenth Head”, written by Vinay Kumar and directed by Veenapani Chawla.

In The Tenth Head, the ten heads of Ravana become a metaphor for the tension that exists between the individual and the collective.

In the Ramayana, Ravana the King of Lanka, is the main antagonist. He kidnaps the protagonist’s wife, Sita, in an act of revenge and with the intention of provoking a war; or, as in some other versions, out of helpless lust. He is said to have captured the kingdom of Lanka from his half brother Kubera, robbed him of his wealth and relieved him of his famous flying chariot. But his villainy is tempered by certain other qualities he possesses. He is a great ruler, a scholar, a player of the Veena and a powerful worshipper of Siva. Indeed he is said to have composed the Siva Tandava Stotra. In folk, popular and classical art he is depicted with ten heads; and sometimes nine, the tenth having been sacrificed to Siva. Another version says he sacrificed all ten heads to Siva in the hope of receiving the boon of immortality, which he was given along with the return of his heads!

In the play, nine of the ten heads of Ravana are a company who are quite happy to conform to a common way of seeing things. Their individuality is limited to each representing one of the nine emotions/ bhavas, from the traditional Indian aesthetic. The tenth however is the odd man out. He does not fit in graphically or psychologically with the other nine heads.  He does not want to dumb down so as to be the average man in the collective.  And he believes that nine heads on a torso make greater geometric and aesthetic sense than ten. So tentatively he looks either for independence from the others or failing that an equitable relation with them so that he can give free expression to his unique thoughts. He asks a group of artists to work around the conundrum of his visibility in graphic representation.

However it becomes increasingly apparent that the tenth head is quite different from the other nine; for he has a totally unique take on Ravana’s actions with regard to Kubera, war, flying and Sita, among other issues. In the end he quietly finds his own solution to the problem, while the artists highhandedly impose their skewered interpretation of the ten heads on the world and posterity.

Cast and Credits


The 10th head: Vinay Kumar

Artists: Nimmy Raphel, Arvind Rane, Apoorva Arthur, Anoop Davis


Nimmy Raphel (Vocal & Mizhavu)

Arvind Rane  (Drum Kit)

Apoorva Arthur (Bass guitar)

Anoop Davis (Mizhavu)


Animation: Anoop Davis

Animation & Sound Operation: Ashiqa Salvan

Light Design: Vinay Kumar

Light Operation: Johnathan Walton

Costumes: Upasana Auroville

Playwright: Vinay Kumar

Director: Veenapani Chawla



Anmol Vellani :  Music composition for songs –“ Call me Head” & “ Once a fool wanted to fly” and other creative suggestions.

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