Classic Revisited Entertainment

Ramayan’s popularity proves its contemporary relevance, says 'Ram' Arun Govil

A scene from Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, TV serial

A scene from Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, TV serial  

Arun Govil, who plays Ram on the Doordarshan show, says content and emotion can triumph over technique

As the re-run of Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayan’ on Doordarshan is breaking TRP records, Arun Govil, the Ram we all know, is elated. “It is a kind of nostalgia trip for me. Even some of the commercials that come in between belong to the time when it was first telecast on Doordarshan,” says Govil, after watching yet another episode with his family.

Ramanand Sagar

Ramanand Sagar   | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

“Earlier, I used to analyse my performance but this time I am watching it for the love of the epic. Also, I am watching it with my grandchildren. My grandson, who is seven, asks about the background of various characters in the epic.”

 

Govil’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the re-telecast of the serial began. Many are communicating through email. “Some of them are colleagues and relatives who haven’t called in the past 20 years. I am constantly informed that the serial has garnered a record-breaking TRP rating. It proves that content and emotion can easily triumph over technique. Such TRPs can’t be earned without the youth watching it. I don’t think the massive viewership (170 million worldwide) is because of the lockdown as people still have plenty to choose from,” says Govil.

Ramayan’s popularity proves its contemporary relevance, says 'Ram' Arun Govil

The actor feels it was Ramanand Sagar’s writing that helped in conveying the deeper meaning of the epic to the people. “His profound lines made my task easier. He ensured that complex issues are explained without losing out on the dramatic element. Those who watched it for drama and action in the 1980s, can now watch it to understand Ram’s view on relationships and worldly affairs,” he adds.

When the show was first aired, Govil’s divine smile won over the viewers. “It was my input. I started my career with Rajshri Films. Rajkumar Barjatya once told me, ‘Arun, your smile is special, use it when you get an opportunity.’ His words stayed with me. When the characterisation was being done everybody knew that I am a calm person but I wanted to lend something more that would bring out the divine qualities of Ram… something that would keep reminding the audience that he is an avatar without making it too obvious. It was then that I came up with this idea.”

It worked wonders in scenes where Ram had to be firm without losing his composure. “That’s art. For instance, in the scene where Ram explains to Bali why he was in the wrong. The smile never leaves his face even as he firmly puts his point across, making Bali repent,” he explains.

Looking back, Govil says, he bonded with everybody on the sets but was close to Sanjay Jog, who played Bharat. “Though he is no more, I cherish the time spent with him.” Govil is all praise for Arvind Trivedi, who played the role of Ravan. “When the counterpoint is strong, it lifts your performance. Coming from a theatre background, he proved to be a worthy antithesis to my style of performance.” Govil reveals that though Trivedi is very senior to him, he calls him ‘Prabhu’. “Recently, we exchanged Whatsapp messages where he kept addressing me as ‘Prabhu.’ Sometimes, it becomes embarrassing.” Govil says that he is also in touch with the technicians such as cinematographer Ajit Naik and sound recordist Rudra, who played important roles in bringing the vision alive but are hardly remembered.

No to politics

The actor is irked by the way various political groups used the Ramayan and Ram for their vested interests. “That’s why I steered clear of politics despite several offers. It would have dented my Ram image,” avers Govil.

Ram, he continues, existed in an age, when the word Hindu was not even coined. “There was only Sanatana dharma, which taught you the dos and don’ts in a life of discipline and values. How can somebody have a problem with the Ramayan?” he wonders. “When I am invited to give motivational talks, I often quote from the Ramayan as its episodes have contemporary relevance. For instance, the epic underlines the need to focus on the task at hand and teamwork. These two attributes are crucial to put an end to COVID 19,” he signs off.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 3:07:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/ramayans-popularity-proves-its-contemporary-relevance-says-ram-arun-govil/article31298926.ece

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