Ramayan (1987 TV series)

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Ramayan poster.jpg
Ramayan promotional poster
Created byRamanand Sagar
Based onRamayana
Directed byRamanand Sagar
StarringArun Govil
Deepika Chikhalia
Sunil Lahri
Arvind Trivedi
Dara Singh
Padma Khanna
Composer(s)Ravindra Jain
Country of originIndia
Original language(s)Hindi
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes78
Executive producer(s)Subhash Sagar
Producer(s)Ramanand Sagar
Anand Sagar
Moti Sagar
CinematographyAjit Naik
Editor(s)Subhash Sehgal
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time35 minutes
Production company(s)Sagar Films
Original networkDD National
Picture format
Original release25 January 1987 (1987-01-25) –
31 July 1988 (1988-07-31)
Followed byLuv Kush
Related showsRamayan (2008)

Ramayan is an Indian television series, which aired between 1987 and 1988 on DD National, created, written, and directed by Ramanand Sagar.[1] 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.[2]

The series had a viewership of 82 per cent, a record high for any Indian television series. Each episode of the series reportedly earned DD National 40 lakh.[3]

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).[4][5][6][7][8][9]


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.





Ramayan was regarded as the most expensive TV show produced during the time with a budget ₹9 Lakhs per episode.[21]


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.[22]

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.[23]

Initially, Both Ramayan and Mahabharat was planned to air together, but later it was decided to air Ramayan first which was followed by Mahabharat after its end.[24]


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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] Arvind Trivedi went to audition for the role of a boatman where Ramanand Sagar chose him as Ravan.[30] However, when Trivedi rejected the offer, Paresh Rawal convinced him for playing the role.[31] Vijay Kavish played three roles in the series which were Shiva, Valmiki and Mayasura Demon.[18]


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.[3]

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."[32] 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."[33]


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.[34] 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."[35]

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".[35] 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.[35]

The series was re-telecast from 28 March 2020 with one hour episode during the morning and one hour episode during the night during the lockdown of 21 days due to coronavirus on DD National.[36][37]


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.[35] It entered in the Limca Book of Records as the most watched historical series.[2] On its first telecast (1987), it had 40 million viewership in India. That brought 23 crore revenue for the channel.[21]

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.[38] 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.[39][40][41] The following week it garnered 580 million impressions in morning slot and 835 million impressions in night slot.[42] In week 14 2020, it garnered 61.397 million impressions and the following week it got 67.4 million impressions.[43][44] Even the Wall Street Journal acknowledged the huge popularity of Ramayan's re-telecast during 2020[45]

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.[46]

Re-runs and dubbed versions[edit]

Reruns of the series aired on Star Plus and Star Utsav in 2000s.[47][48] 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.[49][50] Hundreds of millions of viewers have watched the series during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown in India.[51] 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.[6] It was again telecasted on StarPlus from 4 May 2020.[52] The show will be dubbed in Bengali, Marathi and Tamil from 1 June 2020 and will aired on Star Pravah and Star Vijay.[53][54]

Sequel and remake[edit]

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.[55][56]

A remake series Ramayan produced by Sagar Arts aired on NDTV Imagine in 2008.[57][58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Behind the scenes: Dress designers to actors & deities". The Tribune. 20 April 2003. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Siya Ke Ram or Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan? Here's a test by fire". Hindustan Times.
  3. ^ a b Bajpai, Shailaja (7 August 1988). "Is There Life After Ramayana?". The Indian Express. p. 17. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  4. ^ "'Ramayana' beats 'Game of Thrones' to become the world's most watched show". WION.
  5. ^ "Blockbuster! Ramayana scripts history with highest viewership on single day - 7.7 crore". www.businesstoday.in.
  6. ^ a b "Ramayan becomes most viewed program globally, beats GoT by a record margin". Livemint. 2 May 2020.
  7. ^ "'Ramayan' sets world record, becomes most viewed entertainment programme globally". 2 May 2020 – via www.thehindu.com.
  8. ^ "Aired Again After 33 Years, Ramayan Sets World Record. See Doordarshan's Tweet". NDTV.com.
  9. ^ Patel, Vikrant (29 April 2020). "Now Ramayan breaks another record, No.1 show made worldwide, know how many million people watched".
  10. ^ a b c World, Republic. "'Ramayan' cast then and now | Where is the star cast today? Pictures inside". Republic World.
  11. ^ "33 years on, what became of the cast of Ramayana?". Hindustan Times. 27 March 2020.
  12. ^ "'Ramayan' inspires memes as new generation can't get enough of Laxman's wit, Bharat's love for Ram". DNA India. 3 April 2020.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l World, Republic. "Ramayan cast: Arun Govil as Ram, Dara Singh as Hanuman & other actors of the 90s show". Republic World.
  14. ^ a b c "Ramayana: From Arun Govil to Deepika Chikhalia, what actors of hit mythological serial are doing now". Hindustan Times. 5 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Ramayan actor Mukesh Rawal found dead on Railway tracks - Times of India". The Times of India.
  16. ^ Ramanand Sagar Ramayan Mandodari Aparajita Bhushan On Ramayan Re Telecast_Covid 19_Corona Lockdown., retrieved 11 April 2020
  17. ^ "Shyam Sundar Kalani, Who Played Sugriv In Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan, Dies. Arun Govil And Sunil Lahri Remember The Actor". NDTV.com.
  18. ^ a b "Actor Vijay Kavish played three roles in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan. Can you identify?". India TV News.
  19. ^ "રામાયણ ધારાવાહિકમાં ઋષિ અગત્સ્ય અને માલ્યવાન જેવી ભૂમિકાઓ ભજવનાર રમેશભાઈ ચાંપાનેરીના અનુભવો". Aksharnaad.
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Ramayana cast and characters: A full list". Times Now.
  21. ^ a b "Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan is the most expensive mythological show of its time". India Today.
  22. ^ Gill, S. S. (8 August 1988). "Why Ramayan on Doordarshan". The Indian Express. p. 8. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  23. ^ Lutgendorf, Philip (1998). "All in the (Raghu) Family: A Video Epic in Cultural Context". In Babb, Lawrence A.; Wadley, Susan S. (eds.). Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 217. ISBN 9788120814530. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  24. ^ "Exclusive - Mukesh Khanna: The reruns of Ramayan and Mahabharat will help people like Sonakshi Sinha, who don't know anything about mythology". The Times of India.
  25. ^ "Arun Govil: After Ramayan, my film career was almost over". India Today. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  26. ^ "People don't call me Arun Govil, they call me Ram, says 'Ramayan' star". The Financial Express. 29 March 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  27. ^ "কলকাতায় সফল বাংলাদেশি শিল্পী ও নির্মাতারা". Jugantor. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  28. ^ "Ramayan: Deepika got Sita's role after 4 screen tests". Bolly Fry. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  29. ^ "Bharat of Ramayana said goodbye to world at the age of 40". News Track. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Did you know Arvind Trivedi did not audition for Raavan's role in Ramayan? A look at other lesser known facts". The Times of India.
  31. ^ "Ramayan: Raavan actor Arvind Trivedi originally turned down role, but Paresh Rawal convinced him to change his mind". Hindustan Times.
  32. ^ Biswas, Soutik (19 October 2011). "Ramayana: An 'epic' controversy". BBC. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  33. ^ Dalrymple, William (23 August 2008). "All Indian life is here". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  34. ^ "Hindutva at play". Frontline. Vol. 17 no. 16. 5–18 August 2000. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  35. ^ a b c d Sharma, Manik (13 January 2018). "30 years of DD's Ramayana:The back story of the show that changed Indian TV forever". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  36. ^ "Prasar Bharati To Re-Telecast 'Ramayan' From March 28 On 'Public Demand' During Lockdown". www.outlookindia.com. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Good News! Iconic show 'Ramayana' to re-telecast starting tomorrow". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Popularity of 'Ramayan', 'Mahabharat' serials prompts review of DD programme selection process". The Hindu.
  39. ^ Apr 2, PTI | Updated:; 2020; Ist, 20:18. "Ramayana: 170 million viewers in 4 shows since re-launch on Saturday". Pune Mirror. Retrieved 2 April 2020.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  40. ^ "God Makes An Epic Comeback On Television". Forbes India. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  41. ^ "Coronavirus Lockdown: रामायण ने तोड़े टीआरपी के सारे रिकॉर्ड, 2015 तक का कोई शो नहीं दे सका टक्कर". Dainik Jagran (in Hindi). Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  42. ^ "Reruns of 1980-90s classics Ramayan, Shaktimaan, Byomkesh make DD most-watched channel". ThePrint.
  43. ^ "Doordarshan with its classics like Ramayan driving growth for Hindi GECs". Moneycontrol.com.
  44. ^ "Ramayan, Mahabharat continue to rule, get massive viewership for Doordarshan third week in a row". India Today.
  45. ^ "Coronavirus Lockdown Creates Captive Audience for '80s Show,'Ramayan,' a 78-part telling of an epic Hindu tale airing on Indian public television, is all the rage again". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  46. ^ World, Republic. "'Ramayan' breaks another record, becomes the most-watched show on television". Republic World.
  47. ^ "STAR - Programme Guide". web.archive.org. 21 March 2008. Archived from the original on 21 March 2008.
  48. ^ "Indya.com - STAR - STAR Plus". 3 April 2004. Archived from the original on 3 April 2004.
  49. ^ "Ramayan rerun on DD during lockdown creates a world record, becomes most watched show globally". Doordarshan.
  50. ^ "On Public Demand, "Ramayan" Will Air On Doordarshan Again". NDTV.com. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  51. ^ Coronavirus Lockdown Creates Captive Audience for ’80s Show, The Wall Street Journal
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  53. ^ "Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan now to be dubbed and telecast in Bengali and Marathi". India Today.
  54. ^ "Vijay TV to retelecast Ramayanam serial". The Indian Express.
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  56. ^ "Ramayan director Ramanand Sagar had to make Luv Kush episode after receiving a call from PMO". India TV News.
  57. ^ "Ramayan to be back on small screen". Movie ndtv.
  58. ^ "NDTV Imagine to recreate 'Ramayan' magic". Media 247.


External links[edit]