A powerful demon wants a beautiful goddess for his wife. Legendary monkey brothers Subali and Sugriwa are enlisted to help the gods repel the rejected suitor’s armies in a story told through wayang listrik, a modern Balinese theatre genre that blends shadow puppetry (wayang kulit), dance and music. Traditional carved leather puppets, actors as shadow puppets, Balinese dance, and a live gamelan orchestra share the stage.
Sekar Gendot here means “a song that develops gradually over time.” It is a traditional instrumental piece from the village of Peliatan in Bali, where it is performed by the Tirta Sari gamelan ensemble.
The stage opens in the realm of Indra Loka (Heaven), heralded by the dance of the kayonan (tree of life). The beautiful Dewi Tara dances with the angels. The peace of Indra Loka is disturbed by the arrival of Patih, chief minister to the raksasa ogre king Misasura. He comes with a message expressing Misasura’s desire to take Dewi Tara, Indra’s daughter, as his wife. Indra refuses.
Meanwhile, back in his kingdom, Misasura dreams of Dewi Tara. He wakes up when Patih returns with the news that his request for Dewi Tara was denied. Enraged, Misasura calls his raksasa soldiers to arms and they prepare for battle.
The gods of Indra Loka hear the raksasa troops approaching. A great battle ensues, and the gods are defeated. Indra and Dewi Tara flee to seek advice from the sage Brihaspati.
Lord Indra and Dewi Tara journey to Kiskanda, the realm of the monkey king brothers Subali and Sugriwa. Lord Indra requests their assistance in defeating the raksasa, promising Dewi Tara’s hand in marriage to the monkey kings if they defeat Misasura.
The monkey troops battle Misasura and the raksasa. Misasura is chased into a cave. Subali pursues Misasura, ordering Sugriwa to seal off the entrance if he sees white blood, which will prove Subali has died. Subali defeats Misasura, but the brains of the raksasa king are also white and mingle with his red blood. Confused, Sugriwa thinks his brother has died, and places a boulder over the entrance to the cave so that Misasura cannot escape.
Sugriwa returns to Indra Loka where he and Dewi Tara are wed. Trapped inside the cave, however, Subali is still alive. He manages to dig himself out of the cave using the bones of Misasura. Thinking that his brother betrayed him, Subali fights Sugriwa. Ultimately Sugriwa, with the help of Rama and Laksmana, is victorious over Subali. Subali attains heaven and ascends.