Amidst the 21-day lockdown imposed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of increasing cases of Wuhan Virus, an endearing demand has emerged from the masses who are getting a tad bored at home—a re-telecast of Ramayan and Mahabharat during the nationwide lockdown.
NDTV journalist Akhilesh Sharma took to Twitter on Wednesday and called for the re-telecast of Ramayan and Mahabharat. He said, “Huge demand on social media for retelecast of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana and B R Chopra’s Mahabharata on DD National.”
— Akhilesh Sharma अखिलेश शर्मा (@akhileshsharma1) March 25, 2020
Replying to his tweet, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar said that the public service broadcaster was “working” with “rights holders” to air the historical series on Doordarshan.
Yes we are working on the same with the Rights Holders. Will update shortly. Stay tuned. https://t.co/2Jhjw2qD3s
— Shashi Shekhar (@shashidigital) March 25, 2020
People who grew up in the late 80’s remember the sweet nostalgia of waking up on a Sunday morning and waiting with bated breaths for a television show that defined the majority of Indians’ connect with its rich past legacy. The show Ramayan was/is a pinnacle in TV show history of the country. Made on a shoestring budget with an unconventional airing time slot, the show rose above it all and captured the imagination of the whole of India. The gods of Bharat had a face now.
— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) March 25, 2020
This generation has not been witness to telecast of the two foundational epics on DD.
Instead of watching crass saas bahu serials, best that people get to watch Ramayan &Mahabharat on DD during isolation period https://t.co/ZsphNn2Hoo
— MadhuPurnima Kishwar (@madhukishwar) March 24, 2020
— Mukesh Darji (@DarjiMuk) March 25, 2020
The historical TV series aired in India from 1987 to 1988. The 78 episodes Ramayan was created by Ramanand Sagar and starred actors Arun Govil (Lord Rama/Vishnu), Deepika Chikhalia (Sita/Lakshmi) and Sunil Lahri (Laxman) in titular roles. Primarily based on Valmiki‘s Ramayan and Tulsidas‘ Ramcharitmanas, the TV series was a smashing hit with the viewership breaking all records back then. Ramayan was viewed by at least 650 million people in 55 countries
More than breaking of records it brought people of all walks of life across religious lines together. For one hour every Sunday morning at 9:30 AM, the streets of India were completely empty as people flooded any place that had a TV to get their fill of this production as it kept them spellbound and rekindled religious awareness and devotion in the viewers. Villages used to have screenings in the public spaces. Such was the devotion that actors who played reel Gods were revered as real-life Gods too.
The series had a viewership of 82 percent, a record high for any Indian television series. Each episode of the series reportedly earned Doordarshan ₹40 lakh. The success of Ramayan prompted several extensions to the serial, and upon popular demand by the spellbound audience, a sequel entitled Uttar Ramayan was produced by Dr. Sagar.
He brought together the same cast to continue the story of Lord Ram and Devi Sita after they had ascended the throne of Ayodhya; this too was met with enthusiasm and inspired devotion. Together, these two parts made up Sampoorn Ramayan with which Dr. Ramanand Sagar created a lasting legacy.
After Ramayan came B.R Chpra’s magnum opus on television named Mahabharat, based on the writings of Ved Vyasa. Rated 8.9/10 on IMDB, Mahabharat is considered as gold-standard in terms of popularity for TV series. The 94 episodes series started airing in 1988 up until its conclusion in 1990 and had a massive cult following. The “Mai Samay Hoon” opening monologue by Harish Bhimani still reverberates in the ears of ardent followers of the show.
Mahabharat’s popularity was not limited to India. According to a Guardian report, Mahabharat TV series attracted up to 5 million viewers in a Saturday afternoon on BBC2.
In the day and age of OTT platforms, Doordarshan should promptly start airing both the series which would make younger generation relate to it and they might even binge watch it if aired continuously.
Ramayan and Mahabharat together are the legacy of our country and in testing times as such, it would give people hope and most importantly a reason to stay home. The novel Wuhan Virus can only be defeated by staying at home and breaking the chain of transmission. We sincerely hope that DD comes through with the requests and starts airing the TV series.