While the re-run of Anand Sagar’s epic mythological show, Ramayan has been keeping the audience glued onto their TV sets, actors, creative heads and directors go back in time and unearth some interesting trivia about the show which had been under wraps till now…
One hot summer day, Anand Sagar called his colleague turned friend, Shahab Shamsi to discuss a new project. Before he could start narrating the story, an upfront and emotional Anand Sagar had the door of the conference room locked and instructed his secretary that the meeting should not be disturbed. He went on to share at length his vision, fears and apprehensions about a huge family based show for a new television channeI. After narrating the story, something felt off, since the story sounded very familiar.
Narrating the interaction with the talented Anand Sagar, Shahab Shamsi, Creative Head for Ramayan shares, “After I heard the story, Anand Ji, told me to watch Ramayan made by his legendary father Ramanand Sagar that had broken all records on television worldwide. The only question which wasn’t answered was the title of the show, to which he replied with a smile and said ‘Raghuvansh’.”
Having a hunch about the storyline, I asked him, “Are you remaking the same story? With glint in his eyes, he nodded in affirmation and asked me if we can pull this off? I was poised with a difficult question, since in the history of entertainment no one had done two shows on the same subject that too from the same family. I was made to promise to keep the show name (Ramayan) under wraps and for the purpose of communication for the entire cast and crew we continued to call it Raghuvansh. Gurmeet (Ram), Debina (Sita) and Ankit (Laxman) were confirmed for lead roles and were told it was for a period drama – Raghuvansh. Anand ji did not want any comparison with his father’s work and so I refused to watch the original show. I am sure in hindsight we did the right thing by keeping the title hidden till the end and when it was launched it set records. Looking back, I had no clue that I will be part of a major landmark in the history of entertainment and would be able to create the Magic of Ramayan successfully once again.”
Recollecting about how he auditioned and bagged the role, Ankit Arora who essayed the role of Lord Laxman said, “I had tagged along with a friend who was auditioning for a role. The casting director saw me and asked if I was an actor and was keen to act and audition. Honestly, I had no plans to become an actor and had come to Mumbai to become a singer. I reluctantly went for this first audition memorized my lines and blurted it out in front of the camera. This was after weeks of being consistently chased and having absolutely no clue what the role, character or who the other artists were. All I knew was that it was a period drama titled Raghuvansh. Months passed and I had forgotten about it. Then one day I got a call that I had been shortlisted and had to do a mock shoot with Gurmeet who was my brother in the show. At that time too there was no mention about Ramayan anywhere. Only after I was finalised was I told the real truth. The role of the Lord Laxman was my debut and my life changed after that. Looking back, had I not given that audition, I probably would have continued to pursue a career in singing.”