Ramayan (1987 TV series)
Ramayan promotional poster
|Created by||Ramanand Sagar|
|Directed by||Ramanand Sagar|
|Country of origin||India|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||78|
|Executive producer(s)||Subhash Sagar|
|Running time||35 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Sagar Films|
|Original network||DD National|
|Original release||25 January 1987 –|
31 July 1988
|Followed by||Luv Kush|
|Related shows||Ramayan (2008)|
Ramayan is an Indian television series, which aired between 1987 and 1988 on DD National, created, written, and directed by Ramanand Sagar. It is a television adaptation of the ancient Indian Hindu epic of the same name, and is primarily based on Valmiki's Ramayan and Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas.
The series was reaired during the 2020 Coronavirus lockdown and broke several viewership records globally which includes setting the record for one of the most watched TV show ever in the world ( i.e 77 millions viewers on 16th april, 2020).
Adapted and based on the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, the series follows the journey of Rama who goes to an exile of 14 years along with Sita and Lakshman.
- Arun Govil as Shri Rama
- Deepika Chikhalia as Sita/Lakshmi
- Sunil Lahri as Lakshman
- Arvind Trivedi as Ravana / Sage Vishrava
- Dara Singh as Hanuman
- Sanjay Jog as Bharat
- Sameer Rajda as Shatrughna
- Bal Dhuri as Dasharatha
- Jayshree Gadkar as Kausalya
- Padma Khanna as Kaikeyi
- Rajni Bala as Sumitra
- Lalita Pawar as Manthara
- Vijay Arora as Indrajit
- Nalin Dave as Kumbhakarna
- Mukesh Rawal as Vibhishana
- Aparajita Bhushan as Mandodari
- Shyam Sundar Kalani as Sugriva / Vali
- Sudhir Dalvi as Vasishtha
- Chandrashekhar as Sumanta
- Renu Dhariwal as Shurpanakha
- Radha Yadav as Tara
- Mulraj Rajda as Janaka
- Urmila Bhatt as Sunaina
- Vijay Kavish as Shiva/ Sage Valmiki/ Mayasura
- Pushpa Verma as Sulochana
- Ramesh Chapaneri as Malyavan and Agastya
- Rajshekar Upadhyay as Jambhava
- Bashir Khan as Angad
- Anjali Vyas as Urmila
- Sulakshana Khatri as Mandavi
- Poonam Shetty as Shrutakirti
- Chandrakant Pandey as Nishad
- Girish Seth as Nal
- Giriraj Shukla as Neel/Prahast
- Vibhuti Dave as Trijata
- Sarita Devi as Shabari
- Aslam Khan as Samudra Dev and various roles
- Bandini Mishra as Parvati
- Murari Lal Gupta as Akampan
- Mahesh Bhatt as Shatanand
- Shrikant Soni as Vishwamitra
- Kaustubh Trivedi as Kewat
- Bhushan Lakandari as Vishnu
- Sunil Verma as Garud/Indra/Jatayu/Narantak
- Ramesh Goyal as Maarich
- Madhu Priya as Apsara Avtar of Shurpanakha
- Rajendra Jain as Kalanemi
- Murari Lal Gupta as Akampana
Ramayan was regarded as the most expensive TV show produced during the time with a budget ₹9 Lakhs per episode.
Writing for the Indian Express upon completion of the airing of the series' final episode, former bureaucrat S. S. Gill wrote that it was during his tenure as the secretary with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in September 1985 that he contacted Ramanand Sagar in association with the project. Gill added that in a letter to Sagar, he had written about the Ramayana as a subject for the television series was ideal in that it was "a repository of moral and social values" and that its message was "secular and universal". He added that he had noted in the letter that Sagar's "real challenge would lie in seeing the epic "with the eyes of a modern man and relating its message to the spiritual and emotional needs of our age". Gill added that he also wrote a similar letter to B. R. Chopra over the production of the series Mahabharat based on another epic of the same name, and mentioned that both he and Sagar accepted to his suggestions and constituted panels of experts and scholars to conceptualize the production.
The series was initially conceptualized to run for 52 episodes of 45 minutes each. But, owing to popular demand it had to be extended thrice, eventually ending after 78 episodes.
I remember I had given an audition for Ram and I failed initially. I don’t know what happened. The photoshoot happened with the look and make-up but I wasn’t looking like Lord Ram. . . . Then we thought of adding a smile and then everything got sorted,
Govil expressed his desire to play Rama and appeared for a screen test. Initially he was considered to be inappropriate for the role. He then appeared for the screen test again wearing a smile on his face and got finalized for the role. Since Govil's collaboration with Debashree Roy in Kanak Mishra's Jiyo To Aise Jiyo (1981) was adulated, the actress was approached to play Sita but due to her hectic schedule in Bengali cinema, she failed to appear for the screen test. Several other famous actresses were approached as well but all of them backed off due to the prevalent premonition that playing the role of Lady Sita would blemish their romantic appeal resulting doom to their on screen career. Deepika Chikhalia was then summoned to appear for the screen test. She had to undergo a rigorous screen tests and was finalized then. Sanjay Jog was originally approached for the role of Lakshmana but he refused since he was unable to give bulk dates. Sagar then urged him to play Bharata since the role would not require a bulk dates. The role of Lakshmana then went to Sunil Lahiri. Arvind Trivedi went to audition for the role of a boatman where Ramanand Sagar chose him as Ravan. However, when Trivedi rejected the offer, Paresh Rawal convinced him for playing the role. Vijay Kavish played three roles in the series which were Shiva, Valmiki and Mayasura Demon.
D. K. Bose, the media director of Hindustan Thompson Associates, remarked, "The unique thing about the Ramayana was its consistency. Other programmes like Buniyaad and even Hum Log did achieve viewership of around 80 per cent and more, on occasion. In the case of Ramayana that figure had been maintained almost from the beginning." He added, "Starting at around 50 per cent the 80 per cent figure was reached within a few months and never went down." He noted that the viewership was more than 50 per cent even in the predominantly non-Hindi speaking southern Indian States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. He also added that the show's popularity spanned across religions and was watched by people of the Islam faith in high numbers as well. He mentioned that it was common among people threatening to burn down the local electricity board headquarters during a power outage.
The success of the series was documented well by the media. Soutik Biswas of BBC recalled that when the series was telecast every Sunday morning, "streets would be deserted, shops would be closed and people would bathe and garland their TV sets before the serial began." Writing for the Telegraph, William Dalrymple noted, "In villages across south Asia, hundreds of people would gather around a single set to watch the gods and demons play out their destinies. In the noisiest and most bustling cities, trains, buses and cars came to a sudden halt, and a strange hush fell over the bazaars. In Delhi, government meetings had to be rescheduled after the entire cabinet failed to turn up for an urgent briefing."
The telecast of Ramayan was seen as a precursor to the Ayodhya dispute. Arvind Rajagopal in his book Politics After Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India (2000) wrote that with the series, the government "violated a decades-old taboo on religious partisanship, and Hindu nationalists made the most of the opportunity." He added that it "confirm[ed] to the idea of Hindu awakening" and the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party capitalizing on this. Manik Sharma of Hindustan Times voiced similar views in that the series "played in the backdrop of a Hindutva shift in Indian politics, under the aegis of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its political outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the media and cultural commentators struggled to consider Sagar's epic one way or the other, there were some who saw it as a catalyst, even if unintended, to the turmoil that the movement resulted in."
Regarding initial apprehensions about the series being aired by a government-owned broadcaster, its hitherto producer Sharad Dutt said that "a lot of people within the channel's office weren't supportive of the idea to begin with. But it had no motivation with what was going on politically. The Congress was in power and it had no agenda of the sort." He however felt the execution was poor and remembered questioning Sagar upon watching "the tape" if he had "made Ramayana or Ram-Leela". Sharma noted that the political clout the series held could be adjudged by the fact that Sagar and Arun Govil (who played Rama) "were repeatedly courted by both the Congress and the BJP to campaign for them", and that Deepika Chikhalia (Sita) and Arvind Trivedi (Ravana) went on to become members of parliament.
Ramayan notably broke viewership for any Indian television series during that time. It was telecast in 55 countries and at a total viewership of 650 million and re-telecast (March 24 - April 18, 2020) nearly 2500 million viewership alone in 25 days, it became the highest watched Indian television series by a distance, and one of top watched television series in world. It entered in the Limca Book of Records as the most watched historical series. On its first telecast (1987), it had 40 million viewership in India. That brought ₹23 crore revenue for the channel.
The viewership during lockdown garnered record highest ratings for a Hindi GEC (general entertainment channel) show since 2015 making DD National as the most watched Indian channel since its premiere. Ramayan garnered a total of 170 million viewers in first 4 shows during which DD National became the most watched Indian television channel after many years. The following week it garnered 580 million impressions in morning slot and 835 million impressions in night slot. In week 14 2020, it garnered 61.397 million impressions and the following week it got 67.4 million impressions. Even the Wall Street Journal acknowledged the huge popularity of Ramayan's re-telecast during 2020
Ramayan created a world record by becoming the highest watched TV show globally by registering 77 million viewers for one episode aired during night slot on 16 April 2020 on DD National.
Re-runs and dubbed versions
Reruns of the series aired on Star Plus and Star Utsav in 2000s. It was re-telecast again between March and April 2020 during the coronavirus lockdown on DD National and broke all records for viewership globally for any TV show. Hundreds of millions of viewers have watched the series during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown in India. DD National said on 16 April 2020 the show created world record, 77 million people watched the show in 1 day and beat the record set by the famous American TV show Game of Thrones. It was again telecasted on StarPlus from 4 May 2020. The show will be dubbed in Bengali, Marathi and Tamil from 1 June 2020 and will aired on Star Pravah and Star Vijay.
Sequel and remake
A follow-up series Luv Kush based on the last chapter of Ramayana Uttara Kanda, aired in 1989 on DD National which was subsequently again aired on Doordarshan during April 2020 following Ramayan from April 20, 2020 till May 2, 2020.
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