Ramayan's epic run begins simultaneously on DD and Zee TV this Sunday

Ramayan's epic run begins simultaneously on DD and Zee TV this Sunday

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MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Taking a leaf from Star Plus, rival Hindi general entertainment channel Zee TV has decided to simulcast the mythological epic ?Ramayan? on pubcaster Doordarshan.

Zee TV will try to exploit the time zone Star Plus had created on Sunday mornings at 11 with its Aamir Khan television debut show ?Satyamev Jayate?. Zee senses an opportunity as Star Plus has just replaced ?Satyamev Jayate? with ?Lakhon Mein EK?, the debut ratings of which will be known next week.

For Doordarshan, the continuity of the Sunday morning content with big properties from the two leading broadcasters stays. After ?Satyamev Jayate? ended its run on 29 July, the pubcaster will get to telecast ?Ramayan? that had created history on its network in the late eighties with an older version from the same producers.

"DD gets to air the prime Sunday morning properties of Star and Zee without playing any role in its conception. For the private broadcasters, the obvious strategy is to aggregate audiences and expand reach for these different kind of shows. This is the first time the mythology will run simultaneously on a private satellite channel and India?s national broadcaster. The airing of Ramayan will be interesting to observe in terms of the impact it leaves behind on the pubcaster," says a media analyst.

?Ramayan? will start on the two channels from 12 August. The new remake of the epic serial is being made by Sagar Arts, the same production house which produced the series on DD and Imagine TV. Ramanand Sagar?s granddaughter Meenakshi is the producer of the show.

Interestingly, this is Zee TV?s second attempt to bring this mythological series to its viewers. Earlier, the channel had aired Ramayan, produced by BR Chopra, in 2002. Forming part of Zee TV?s revamp strategy under the then CEO of the network Sandeep Goyal, the show bombed.

Imagine TV also launched with Ramayan as its flagship property in 2008. But after an initial strong burst, the show petered out and went off air in 2009.

Now ready for its fourth run on Indian television, the ?new? Ramayan will use social networking websites to connect with the younger generation. Needfully so. There is a growing young population in today?s India and audiences are fragmented and segmented with television offering plenty of entertainment choices.

"For the first time, we will see Ramayan tapping social media. Earlier in 2008, this opportunity was not there to connect with the new generation. So let?s see how the younger generation take to a mythology that is so deep rooted in our culture," says Subhajit Das Mohapatra, a researcher in sociology.

When the first serial directed by Ramanand Sagar was telecast on Doordarshan almost three decades ago in 1987, the common man on the street had begun to worship the actors Arun Govil and Deepika as Ram and Sita.

Zee TV has, thus, kept the names of the lead actors under wraps. Explains Ajay Bhalwankar, Head-Content, Hindi GECs at Zee TV, "Viewers should venerate Ram and Sita and not the actors."

In BR Chopra?s Ramayan, Nitish Bharadwaj and Smriti Irani played the roles of Ram and Sita. Imagine TV, on the other hand, had Gurmeet Choudhary and Debina Bonnerjee play the main characters in 2008.

"As these two versions didn?t fare well, the lead actors couldn?t grow into iconic figures. Also, Arun Govil and Deepika were Ram and Sita in a different age of Indian society," says Mohapatra.

Directed by Moti Sagar, the new version will have TV artiste Neil Bhatt play Lakshman?s (Ram?s brother) character, while Rishabh Shukla and Shikha Swaroop will perform the roles of King Dashrath (father of Ram) and Kaikeyi (wife of Dashrath) respectively.

The timeless classic based on ?Tulsidas? Ramcharitmanas? is still relevant in contemporary times and will use newer technology and special effects to provide wholesome entertainment and message to the entire family, right from grandparents to children.

Bhalwankar says there is a sea change in the kind of technology and graphics that are used in the latest version of Ramayan. "The scale is going to be really huge and state-of-the-art this time. It has been shot in HD," he adds.

The language has been simplified so that today?s generation is able to understand and learn from it.

"The story will be similar to what my grandfather had shown. Nothing new can be included in the story, but the presentation will definitely be different. The technology is much better today and we have worked on a lot of details of the characters,? says Meenakshi.

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