On 25th Jan 1987, a hastily shot pilot of a TV series was telecast on Doordarshan.

Shot in two weeks and allegedly of poor quality, this marked the beginning of the third telling of the Ramayan, following the versions created by Valmiki and Tulsidas.
Today is the 103rd birthday of Ramanand Sagar, the man who brought the Ramayan into the hearts, minds and TV sets of millions of Indians in the late 80s.

Did you know he made movies such as Charas, Jalte Badan and Romance before making spirituality great again? Read on.
He was born Chandramauli Chopra.

His name was changed when his maternal grandmother adopted him. His father DN Chopra remarried and had another family. Did you know Vidhu Vinod Chopra is Sagar’s half-brother?

Another Chopra, Baldev Raj, produced the other epic, Mahabharat.
In 1973, Sagar made "Jalte Badan".

Kiran is a young man who goes to Bombay for studies and begins using drugs when his college is on strike.

A cabaret dancer takes pity on Kiran and asks his snake charmer girlfriend (?) to rescue him with her true love.

What a plot, I say!
In 1976, he made Charas (the movie, not the substance)

Starring Dharamendra, Hema Malini, Amjad Khan and others, the plot is based on Idi Amin expelling Indians from Uganda. It gets convoluted with drugs, crime and international espionage in ways that only 70s movies can.

Watch "Yeh dhuan meherban charas ka nahi hai" from the movie. It features Aruna Irani and Asrani with playback singing by Asha Bhosle and Mahendra Kapoor.

It is all kinds of strange and makes me glad we've moved past that part of the 70s.

How did a man who made these interesting movies in the 70s jump onto the spirituality / epic stories bandwagon in the 80s?

One reason was that TV became popular in the 80s with colour TV broadcast starting in 1982.

Another reason Ramanand Sagar shifted from cinema to TV was due to the hold of the Dubai mafia on the film industry.

For instance, the dispute regarding the overseas rights to Feroz Khan’s Qurbani was settled by the mafia.
Ramanand Sagar's foray into TV began with the adaptation of the Betaal Pachisi (25 tales).

Ghost tells king stories, asks questions. If king doesn't answer, his head is blown up. If he answers, ghost flies back to hang on the tree.

This tale inspired our education system.
Soon after, Sagar decided to make the Ramayan.

He decided to cast @arungovil12 @LahriSunil @ChikhliaDipika and Dara Singh who played major characters in Vikram Betaal as Ram, Laxman, Sita and Hanuman respectively.
Here's the three actors in recent times.

They were allegedly approached for racy photoshoots and offered hefty amounts.

Ramayan ran for 78 episodes, after being originally approved for 52. It extended its run thrice, on popular demand.
Turns out @arungovil12 almost didn't end up being Ram.

"I remember I had given an audition for Ram and I failed initially. I don’t know what happened.....I wasn’t looking like Lord Ram.

Then we thought of adding a smile and then everything got sorted"

When Ramayan actors would travel to the shoot location in Umergam, Gujarat by train, people boarded the compartment they were in to touch their feet.
Load-shedding used to take place in many parts of India and there were protests en masse across villages when they couldn't get their weekly fix of Ramayan due to power cuts.

Electricity board authorities changed load shedding times thanks to these protests.
We won't get into the political aspects associated with the TV series, though suffice to say there was a lot of back and forth on whether or not to air Ramayan on DD in the late 80s as the channel strived to toe the secular line.

That didn't happen.
Finally, Ramayan made a resurgence in 2020 and ended up breaking viewership records left, right and center making other mythological epics such as @GameOfThrones bite the dust.

Take that @HBO #BMKJ #ProudFeels

GoT more Ramanand Sagar / Ramayan fun facts to share? Tell us please.

Meanwhile, #StayBlessed 🙏🏾

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