Ramayan returns in new avatar on NDTV Imagine

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | January 07, 2008
Media planners are giving the mythological saga the thumbs up, citing reality-show and soap-opera fatigue as important factors that might give the epic a jumpstart

Valmiki's & #BANNER1 & # epic, Ramayan, is all set to make a comeback on telly, but in an all-new avatar.

NDTV Imagine, the entertainment channel headed by Sameer Nair, plans to showcase the televised adventures of Lord Ram from January 21. Interestingly, the show is being produced once again by Sagar Arts, the family that introduced mythology on television.

During its original broadcast (two decades ago), Ramayan was enormously popular, drawing millions of viewers as its popularity reached a point where the entire country would come to a virtual standstill when it was telecast.

A scene from Ramayana
"Both Mahabharat and Ramayan have set benchmarks for Indian television which none has come even close to. The idea of bringing back the tried and tested mythological epic on telly sounds to be a good one. But the success of the latest series will depend highly on the success of the platform. Of course, NDTV Imagine won't have the kind of reach Doordarshan enjoyed in those days, but it will generate some kind of excitement, at least in C&S homes," says Divya Radhakrishnan, vice-president, TME.

The channel believes that the new version has the advantage of being produced in times of huge technical advancements, which will greatly enhance the story telling. "The enthralling production values and fresh approach to storytelling gives the new Ramayan an appeal that will entertain and delight viewers across all age groups. The entire production is being executed at Sagar Film City in Vadodara, where grand sets have been erected to depict key areas in the kingdom of Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram," says Sameer Nair, CEO, NDTV Imagine

The characters in Ramayan will be essayed by a new generation of actors. Gurmeet Choudhary will play Lord Ram, while Debina Bonnerjee will play Sita. Ram's three brothers, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan, will be played by Ankit Arora, Vije Bhatia and Lalit Negi, respectively.

The new Ramayan, which will be a daily weekday soap airing four days a week at prime time, has been received with shock and awe by many planners. "There has been enough evidence that in this age of reality shows, shows like Prithviraj Chauhan and Sai Baba have done outstandingly well, but such shows are a good watch for weekend entertainment. Placing Ramayan against old horses like Kyunki and others during the weekdays is a huge risk which could well pay off because of the emotional equation Ramayan shares with Indian middle class housewives. I think it is a well thought out move," says Mona Jain, executive vice-president, ZOM.

Sagar Arts has roped in popular names for the show. The music of Ramayan has been composed by Ravindra Jain, and Kavita Krishnamurthy and Suresh Wadkar have sung the title track. The sets have been designed by art director Omang Kumar. Designer Nisha Sagar has created the costumes and accessories.

Prem Sagar of Sagar Arts says, "Ramayan, like the river Ganga, is sacred, timeless and immeasurable. A dip in the values of idealism and sacrifice embodied in Ramayan is like a bath in the Ganga that purifies your thoughts, speech and action and washes away all evil. Twenty years ago, our revered father, Ramanand Sagar, created a revolution through a blockbuster show. Now, we, the second and third generation, hope to recreate the same magic."

Nair says, "Ramayan has a huge connect with audiences across the country and has all the elements that will deliver on our promise to entertain and delight. The Sagars are powerful storytellers and the final word in creating mythological epics for television and we believe that our partnership has the potential to make Ramayan a show that the whole family will watch together every evening."

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