Ramanand Sagar's iconic television show Ramayan has rightfully made history. Not just during its original telecast in the late 80s, but with its re-run amid Coronavirus lockdown, the mythological show garnered the attention of avid television watchers. While the show featuring Arun Govil as Lord Ram, Dipika Chikhlia as Sita, Sunil Lahri as Lakshman, Dara Singh as Hanuman and Arvind Trivedi as Ravan broke all TRP records in India, the son of late Ramanand Sagar, Prem Sagar, during an interview with a magazine, made a shocking revelation with respect to foreign media. He told that BBC wanted to buy the telecast rights to Ramayan and invited Arun, Ramanand, Arvind and him to their studio. However, on reaching, they got to know that Arun had to dress up like Shri Ram to parade around their studio. Realising this act to be a 'collective attempt to break the image of the Lord as divine', the Sagar family declined their offer. Adding that the foreign media is unable to understand the importance of the show, Prem said BBC opted for Mahabharat that showcased negativity and a quest for the crown.
"They had decided to buy telecast rights to the Ramayan for the Asian population. Ramanand Sagar, Arun Govil, Arvind Trivedi and I went to their Liverpool studios for an interview before signing the contract. But they wanted Arun dressed and paraded as Shri Ram in full costume and crown through the BBC studios so they could film it. Papaji and I realised it was a calculated attempt to break the image of Shri Ram as divine, worshipped in every grain of soil in India. We refused their bait. There was a major battle of telephones being exchanged between London and Birmingham and finally they didn’t sign the contract. They instead opted for Mahabharat, which portrayed a lot of negativity and everyone trying to grab the crown; this in place of Maryada Purushotham Ram and Sanatan values of Ramayan, where every character is an epitome of sacrifice. Nobody wants the crown. Bharat’s character who worships the padukas of Shri Ram and places them on the throne, I think, was unacceptable to the foreign media," Prem told.
Directed by Ramanand Sagar, Ramayan registered the highest-ever rating for a Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC) program since 2015. The re-run of the epic mythological show concluded on April 18 on DD National and days later, Star Plus started airing it again from May 4.