RAMAYAN reboot: Old story, new technology

The new version of the mythological will be based on the Ramcharitmanas, just like the first one did, but will be backed by better special effects

After Doordarshan and Imagine TV, it’s the turn of Zee TV to recreate Ramayan and the new version promises to be a state-of-art affair with latest technology and simplified dialogues to connect with the youth.

“Our Ramayan is based on Ramcharitmanas, which is rich in core values, ideals and principles that form the crux of our society and are the core of our upbringing,” said Ajay Bhalwankar, Head-Content, Hindi GECs at Zee. “There no change in the story, but the presentation is different. If we try to tell the story in a different way, we would fail as the core of Ramayan cannot be changed. (However), there is a sea of change in the use of technology and graphics. The scale is going to be really huge and state-of-the-art this time. We have shot in HD,” he added, without revealing the show’s budget.

The use of technology is something even Meenakshi Sagar of Sagar Arts agrees with. Moti Sagar of Sagar Arts is producting this Ramayan reboot. Moti’s father Ramanand Sagar produced and directed the first version, which aired on Doordarshan in 1987. It was a hit, and still remains etched in many minds. The same production house made a second version for Imagine TV with Gurmeet Choudhary and Debina Bonnerjee in 2008. Asked how different would the third version be, Ramanand’s granddaughter Meenakshi said, “The language has been simplified so that today’s generation is able to understand it and learn from it. The story will be similar to what my grandfather Ramanand Sagarji 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 lot on detailings of the characters.”

Exactly, who are essaying those characters? There’s been a lot of speculation with names of various telly actors being bandied about. Rishabh Shukla has been roped in for the role of King Dashratha, Shikha Swaroop will portray Kaikeyi and Neil Bhatt (of 12/24 Karol Bagh fame) will be seen in Lakshman’s role. The identities of other characters, including protagonists Ram and Sita have been kept under wraps for now. The show will go on air Aug 12.

“We have spent a lot of time deciding on the casting of the show. We were never looking for larger than life personalities. I won’t say they are new faces, but they are good actors,” said Bhalwankar, adding that there’s a special reason behind concealing the identity of Ram and Sita.

“When Doordarshan’s Ramayan came, media was not very active. So, when people saw Arun Govil, they saw him as Ram and not Arun Govil. His real identity came out quite later,” he said.

“We are not revealing the names because we want people to see them as Ram and Sita, not as actors XYZ,” he added.

Bhalwankar doesn’t fear comparisons with earlier versions of Ramayan.“There will be more comparisons with the earlier Ramayan than comparisons with Imagine’s Ramayan. We don’t fear it because their (Imagine’s) grammar and framework was different. It was more of a family drama and our approach is different,” he added.