Prasar Bharati decided to air all-time blockbusters Ramayan, Chankaya, Mahabharat, Shaktiman, and many others amid Coronavirus lockdown of 21 days. These serials have been received very well by audiences. The data for viewership of these programmes, especially Ramayan, is mind-boggling.
According to the latest data from BARC-Nielsen Survey, Ramayan has the highest ever rating for any serial on Hindi GECs (general entertainment channels) since 2015. The programme has a very good reception among the urban audiences of mega-cities.
On March 28, when the first episode was aired, the programme had 34 million viewers for the morning slot and 45 million viewers for the evening slot. For the next episode, the viewership jumped to 51 million for the evening and 40 million for the morning. On average, the show is being watched by around more than 10 crore people daily when combined morning, evening broadcasts and digital viewership.
“Thrilled to share that the re-telecast of RAMAYAN on @ddnational has garnered the highest ever rating for a Hindi GEC show since 2015 (source: @BARCIndia)” tweeted Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar. “This is a record of sorts for Doordarshan since BARC started TV Audience Measurement in 2015 underscoring how India is watching DD even as India fights back #CORONA #StayHomeToStaySafe,” he added.
— Shashi Shekhar (@shashidigital) April 2, 2020
The classics aired on Doordarshan are also very popular among millennial generation, which is sharing memes on these shows over social media, after watching the episodes.
DD’s YouTube viewership doubled in the last few days, with Ramayan contributing the most in the surge. “Initially, it was a combination of Ramayan and Mahabharat (that grossed the highest numbers) but since yesterday (Wednesday) Shaktimaan too has contributed to the traffic,” said a DD official, as per a report by ThePrint.
Almost three decades ago, when these serials were aired first time, such was the popularity of these serials that people got glued to their TV sets and the streets wore a deserted look, even without any lockdown or curfew being imposed.
The serials which actually brought the Indian society back to its roots following centuries of conquest and colonialization by the foreign powers, followed by a process of deracination in the Nehruvian era, had a big role to play in kickstarting the Ram Janambhoomi movement which only very recently culminated with a landmark Supreme Court verdict paving way for the construction of a grand temple at Bhagwan Ram’s birthplace in the historic city of Ayodhya.
The two serials were first telecast more than three decades ago. In the past thirty years, however, the process of deracination and vilification of Bhagwan Ram and Bhagwan Krishna has been perpetrated ruthlessly by the usual suspects. At least, the millennials have never seen the two serials and do not understand both the Hindu epics substantially. Now, when the entire country remains locked down for 21 days; the millennials who were till now unconnected, get to relive their cultural roots.
The public broadcaster is also airing Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Circus and detective show Byomkesh Bakshi; both are being well-received by the audiences. In the last two weeks, TV consumption grew exponentially; thanks to Corona induced lockdown.
When aired for the first time, 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.