Zee TV, Sunday, 11 am
Cast: Gagan Malik, Neha Sargam
Thank God for the fast forward button on the DVD player! It helps one survive the latest version of Ramayana produced by mytho-experts, the Sagars. The latest edition of the epic was meant to woo the younger generation with shriveling attention spans and as a wholesome show for the entire family on a Sunday morning (a slot which Aamir Khan showed could work with the right content) and learn the lessons afresh. Alas, the pace of the show is its undoing and so is the melodrama (you should see the three queens going berserk every time a ‘maa’ situation demands), not to forget some of the tacky special effects.
I watched the show with my teenage son who found the entire sequence of Lord Vishnu having a dialogue with Kaushalya who promptly faints and bingo, finds baby Ram crying on the bed when she regains consciousness, funny. He asked: Mum, is this how babies are really produced? She wasn’t even shown pregnant. Then there is the almost malnourished, model-like Kaikeyi which had my son wondering if she was indeed the prettiest of all queens! We loved the sequences between the younger versions of Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan at the gurukul.
It was indeed heartwarming to see the camaraderie the four shared and I wished some more time was spent on their childhood. But I guess, in the bid to tell the story faster, the kids grew overnight. It was nice, the way guruma stressed on the future kings being taught to empathise and be kind – a well-rounded education is the need of hour even in today’s cutthroat times where tolerance, patience, love, kindness and politeness are easily traded with impatience and aggression.
Ramayana was first brought to our drawing rooms by the late Ramanand Sagar over two decades ago, other versions came thereafter and now this edition does retain some of its essence from the original. Suresh Wadkar’s still
memorable title song, Lata Mangeshkar’s rendition of Thumak chalat ramachandra’. The sets, the make-up, the costumes continue to be loud and tacky, melodrama still reigns (for instance, at the naming ceremony of the four kids, every time the guru uttered a name, say Ram, the three queens, the king, the extras would repeat ‘Ram’ ‘Ram’ Ram’ after him, making it an unintentionally funny scene, funnier when you see it fast forwarded!)
Now for the performances: Shikha Swaroop as the slender Kaikeyi has an attractive presence though her undernourished appearance is a little disconcerting. Gagan Malik as Ram is pleasing though has a long way to go before he has the audience eating out of his ‘divine’ hands, Neil Bhatt as Lakshman is disappointing though we hope he will get better with time. Neha Sargam as Sita is yet to make an appearance.
VERDICT: Ramayana doesn’t have much going for it especially if it was also intended for the Twitter-gen!