We again witnessed the “deewangi” for ‘Ramayan’ as it re-aired on Doordarshan from March 28, 2020
Interestingly, when ‘Ramayan’ started in 1987 it became the most watched serial in the world. It happened till June 2003, it remained recorded in the Limca Book of Records as “the most watched mythological serial in the world”. Produced by Ramanand Sagar, Subhash Sagar and Prem Sagar, Ramayan was directed by Ramanand, Anand Sagar and Moti Sagar.
The role of Ram was played by Arun Govil, Sita by Deepika Chikhalia, Lakshman by Sunil Lahiri, Hanuman by late Dara Singh, and Ravan by Arvind Trivedi. Ramanand Sagar had made a total of 78 episodes of this serial based on Valmiki’s Ramayana and Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas.
The serial started airing in the country for the first time, there were less TVs at homes then, most of the people used to gather at some neighbour’s place to watch ‘Ramayan’ and used to remain glued to the TV sets. We again witnessed the “deewangi” for Ramanand Sagars popular TV serial ‘Ramayan’ as it re-aired on Doordarshan from March 28, 2020 became the world’s most-watched show on April 16 with 7.7 crore viewers. History repeated itself and the serial had broken all records of popularity again. On 16 April, The Ramayan was viewed by 77 million people, apparently setting a world record for the most-watched TV show globally (in comparison, The Big Bang Theory’s finale drew 18 million viewers, while 19.3 million watched the last episode of Game of Thrones).
Worth to mention as a 1980s kid, it’s really nostalgic; it takes me back to when it was on Sunday morning and family and neighbours would gather round and the roads would be empty. During the pandemic of COVID-19 it became a boon for people to relive those days and it became a reason to stick indoors.
The first four episodes of The Ramayan’s lockdown rerun were watched by a staggering 170 million viewers, with between 34 million and 51 million people tuning into each instalment, making its state-run broadcaster, Doordarshan National, the most-watched TV channel in the country, when it hadn’t been in the top 10 beforehand.
The Ramayan’s popularity would not be possible without the lively characters. The characters made it a real feel, people used to pray in front of their TV sets believing each character as real Gods. Be it the role of Ram played by Arun Govil, Sita by Deepika Chikhalia, Lakshman by Sunil Lahiri, Hanuman by late Dara Singh, and Ravan by Arvind Trivedi. Including all the other lead roles everyone did it with grace. It is a kind of nostalgia trip for everyone. Not only the serial but even some of the commercials that come in between belong to the time when it was first telecast on Doordarshan.
This all was not easy Indian television wasn’t prepared for a mythological show like this. The film industry felt that television was a risk. But thanks to Ramanand Sagar who made it possible and we watched the ancient Hindu epic “The Ramayana”. The show had everything in it love care drama action faith trust everything that will simply drag you inside. And the magic of India’s most successful TV show continues.