Ramayan the beloved serial on Indian national television Doordarshan, which ruled the charts for a one-and-a-half-years from January 1987, is being brought back from Saturday, March 28. Two episodes will be aired every day, one in the morning at 9 am and the other at 9 pm.
The decision has been taken in view of the rapidly dwindling original new content on Indian satellite television due to the Coronavirus.
A source close to Doordarshan that I spoke to says the decision was taken at the highest level. “This is Doordarshan’s chance to revive its lost glory. It’s also an opportunity for Indians locked away in their homes to reclaim one of their most beloved holy scriptures. The decision was taken by the honourable minister of Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar, as it was felt that the scarcity of new fiction content on the home-viewing medium could be adequately filled by Ramayan.”
Ramayan was conceived by veteran filmmaker the late Ramanand Sagar who wrote the screenplay for the televised adaptation. The series running into 78 episodes of 35 minutes each featured Arun Govil and Deepika Chikhali as Rama and Sita. The series was phenomenal hit on telecast. Govil and Chikhali were worshipped like real deities wherever they went.
In a conversation with me many years ago Ramanand Sagar had said, “In my entire career as a filmmaker I had never seen an impact equivalent to the mass hysteria that Ramayan generated.The entire Indian population was mesmerized. Every Sunday morning when Ramayan was telecast the streets would be completely deserted. Everyone was at home bathed and ready to watch the serial.”
Ironically the same situation now exists. The roads are emptied out, though not only on Sundays, every single day of the week for three weeks as the nation is locked down for Coronavirus.
This is where Doordarshan hopes to strike gold and revive its lost glory with the most successful series ever aired on Indian television.
One hears plans are also afoot to telecast B R Chopra’s Mahabharat which also created history on Doordarshan when aired in 1988.
Baabul Supriyo, singer, actor and Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change feels telecasting Ramayan is a masterstroke.
Says Baabul, “It is an excellent move by the I&B ministry, it will help the older generation pass their time and youngsters get a glimpse of the most celebrated epics. Indian culture triumphs even if they catch them in bits and pieces.”
The Central Minister takes a potshot at the Opposition. “The Congress is feeling helpless and bankrupt politically after seeing how effectively our Honourable PM is leading from the front and I am sure they have nothing to crib about after the economic packages announced by the Honourable FM on Thursday and by the RBI on Friday… hence they are resorting to these petty politics! Question is why wasn’t Ramayan or Mahabharata a problem during its inception in the 1980s and why is it a problem today? Rahul Gandhi is most welcome to skip Ramayan and watch the channel of his choice. But please keep quiet.”