Eyes On Me

First, the justification. I am a proud Indian but I am not a nationalist, do not believe in jingoism or brow-beating, am a liberal and a Sikh(for the uninitiated, Sikhism is a religion) even though I have shorn my hair and am bald.

An interesting fact caught my eye today and I HAD to share it via this blog because it is nostalgic and reminiscent of a bygone era.

Ramayana, Ramanand Sagar, Arun Govil, Deepika Chikhalia Topiwala, Sunil Lahri, Lord Rama, Sita, Laxman,Prison Break, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, most-watched serial ever, #Ramyan

Circa 1987 when I was a five-year-old and cable television was still a distant dream for the population at large in India. There was a serial on the national broadcaster(DD National) called Ramayana starring Arun Govil as Lord Rama and Deepika Chikhalia Topiwala as Sita and Sunil Lahri as Laxman.

Now a simile, Ram to India is what Christ is to the US and this serial was epic, to say the least having been directed by a stalwart like Ramanand Sagar. I am not sure if he would still be a stalwart if he had not directed this. Anyways, let me not digress.

Lord Rama is sacred to Hindus who constitute 79.8% of the total population of India according to Wikipedia. As a layman or bystander or an outsider, Babri Masjid demolition(sorry to bring this up) also took place on the premise that it is supposedly, the birthplace of Rama and that is why the mosque had to be brought down by the fanatics.

Which is what the courts ruled blatantly favouring the majority(saying it as a neutral having read quite a bit of what transpired). Basically, Rama is the central theme in India or used to be up until the judgement.

Let me get back to why I started to type before I go to 10 different tangents and come up with a non-fiction account running close to 10,000 words. So, Ramayana was telecast again after 33 years and on April 16, DD National announced that Ramayana became the most-watched serial ever with 77 million viewers tuning in beating the previously held record of the Game of Thrones when 19.3 million had watched the finale.

Let me put this into context, Ramayana to the 80s is what Prison Break, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones at their respective peaks combined could not muster the gargantuan numbers just showcased. Forget streaming.

How about the Indian sub context? Lockdown which is what we are experiencing right now is not new to us. you know why? When Ramayana was at the peak, traffic came to a halt on Sundays, the population at large ceased all activities and were only about the idiot box(Yes, that is what TV was referred to in those days, thanks Dad)

And to think about it, there is a dearth of good content right now. Netflix(maze), Amazon Prime(afterthought) so on and so forth.

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