Ramayan (1987 TV series)

Ramayan is an Indian historical-drama epic television series, which aired during 1987-1988, created, written, and directed by Ramanand Sagar.[1] The remake of Ramayan series was again presented by Sagar Arts and which aired on NDTV Imagine in 2008. Ramayan introduced the concept of Hindu epics to Indian Television and went on to become a national classic, it was aired on Zee TV in mid-90's. Also, it was aired on Star Plus and Star Utsav in 2000's. [2][3]

Ramayan promotional poster
Created byRamanand Sagar
StarringArun Govil
Deepika Chikhalia
Sunil Lahri
Sanjay Jog
Arvind Trivedi
Dara Singh
Vijay Arora
Sameer Rajda
Mulraj Rajda
Lalita Pawar
Composer(s)Arjun D
Country of originIndia
Original language(s)Hindi
No. of episodes78
Executive producer(s)Subhash Sagar
Producer(s)Ramanand Sagar
Anand Sagar
Moti Sagar
Production location(s)Umbergaon, Gujarat
CinematographyArjun D
Editor(s)Arjun D
Camera setupDigital movie camera
Running time35 minutes
Production company(s)Sagar Art Enterprises
Original networkDoordarshan
Original release25 January 1987 (1987-01-25) 
31 July 1988 (1988-07-31)
Followed byLuv Kush

It is a television adaptation of the ancient Indian Hindu epic of the same name, and is primarily based on Valmiki's Ramayan and Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas.[4]

The serial was brought to the small screen by Sagar Art Enterprises. The list of technicians is as follows:

Screenplay & Dialogue - Ramanand Sagar; Special Effects - Ravikant Nagaich; Technical Advisor - Prem Sagar; Lyrics & Music - Ravindra Jain; Title Music - Jaidev; Executive Producer - Subhash Sagar; Second Unit Directors - Anand Sagar & Moti Sagar; Produced & Directed - Ramanand Sagar.

The series had a viewership of 82 per cent, a record high for any Indian television series. Each episode of the series reportedly earned Doordarshan 40 lakh.[5]


Credit -Naarad TV


Writing for the Indian Express upon completion of the airing of the series' final episode, former bureaucrat S. S. Gill wrote that it was during his tenure as the secretary with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in September 1985 that he contacted Ramanand Sagar in association with the project. Gill added that in a letter to Sagar, he had written about the Ramayana as a subject for the television series was ideal in that it was "a repository of moral and social values" and that its message was "secular and universal". He added that he had noted in the letter that Sagar's "real challenge would lie in seeing the epic "with the eyes of a modern man and relating its message to the spiritual and emotional needs of our age". Gill added that he also wrote a similar letter to B. R. Chopra over the production of the series Mahabharat based on another epic of the same name, and mentioned that both he and Sagar accepted to his suggestions and constituted panels of experts and scholars to conceptualize the production.[6]

The series was initially conceptualized to run for 52 episodes of 45 minutes each. But, owing to popular demand it had to be extended thrice, eventually ending after 78 episodes.[7]


Ramayan notably broke viewership for any Indian television series during the time. It was telecast in 55 countries and at a total viewership of 650 million, it became the highest watched Indian television series by a distance.[8] It entered in the Limca Book of Records as the most watched mythological series.[4]

D. K. Bose, the media director of Hindustan Thompson Associates, remarked, "The unique thing about the Ramayana was its consistency. Other programmes like Buniyaad and even Hum Log did achieve viewership of around 80 per cent and more, on occasion. In the case of Ramayana that figure had been maintained almost from the beginning." He added, "Starting at around 50 per cent the 80 per cent figure was reached within a few months and never went down." He noted that the viewership was more than 50 per cent even in the predominantly non-Hindi speaking southern Indian States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. He also added that the show's popularity spanned across religions and was watched by people of the Islam faith in high numbers as well. He mentioned that it was common among people threatening to burn down the local electricity board headquarters during a power outage.[5]

The success of the series was documented well by the media. Soutik Biswas of BBC recalled that when the series was telecast every Sunday morning, "streets would be deserted, shops would be closed and people would bathe and garland their TV sets before the serial began."[9] Writing for the Telegraph, William Dalrymple noted, "In villages across south Asia, hundreds of people would gather around a single set to watch the gods and demons play out their destinies. In the noisiest and most bustling cities, trains, buses and cars came to a sudden halt, and a strange hush fell over the bazaars. In Delhi, government meetings had to be rescheduled after the entire cabinet failed to turn up for an urgent briefing."[10]

However, critics dismissed the series calling it a "technically flawed melodrama".[7]


The telecast of Ramayan was seen as a precursor to the Ayodhya dispute. Arvind Rajagopal in his book Politics After Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India (2000) wrote that with the series, the government "violated a decades-old taboo on religious partisanship, and Hindu nationalists made the most of the opportunity." He added that it "confirm[ed] to the idea of Hindu awakening" and the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party capitalizing on this.[11] Manik Sharma of Hindustan Times voiced similar views in that the series "played in the backdrop of a Hindutva shift in Indian politics, under the aegis of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its political outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the media and cultural commentators struggled to consider Sagar's epic one way or the other, there were some who saw it as a catalyst, even if unintended, to the turmoil that the movement resulted in."[8]

Regarding initial apprehensions about the series being aired by a government-owned broadcaster, its hitherto producer Sharad Dutt said that "a lot of people within the channel's office weren't supportive of the idea to begin with. But it had no motivation with what was going on politically. The Congress was in power and it had no agenda of the sort." He however felt the execution was poor and remembered questioning Sagar upon watching "the tape" if he had "made Ramayana or Ram-Leela".[8] Sharma noted that the political clout the series held could be adjudged by the fact that Sagar and Arun Govil (who played Rama) "were repeatedly courted by both the Congress and the BJP to campaign for them", and that Deepika Chikhalia (Sita) and Arvind Trivedi (Ravana) went on to become members of parliament.[8]

See also


  1. "Behind the scenes: Dress designers to actors & deities". The Tribune. 20 April 2003. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  2. "Ramayan to be back on small screen". Movie ndtv.
  3. "NDTV Imagine to recreate 'Ramayan' magic". Media 247.
  4. "Siya Ke Ram or Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan? Here's a test by fire". Hindustan Times.
  5. Bajpai, Shailaja (7 August 1988). "Is There Life After Ramayana?". The Indian Express. p. 17. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  6. Gill, S. S. (8 August 1988). "Why Ramayan on Doordarshan". The Indian Express. p. 8. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  7. Lutgendorf, Philip (1998). "All in the (Raghu) Family: A Video Epic in Cultural Context". In Babb, Lawrence A.; Wadley, Susan S. (eds.). Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 217. ISBN 9788120814530. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  8. Sharma, Manik (13 January 2018). "30 years of DD's Ramayana:The back story of the show that changed Indian TV forever". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  9. Biswas, Soutik (19 October 2011). "Ramayana: An 'epic' controversy". BBC. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  10. Dalrymple, William (23 August 2008). "All Indian life is here". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  11. "Hindutva at play". Frontline. Vol. 17 no. 16. 5–18 August 2000. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018.


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