New Delhi: Arun Govil, the reel life Lord Ram, has supported the Narendra Modi government’s lockdown to counter coronavirus and has urged people to use this opportunity to reconnect with family members.
Govil, who played the role of the mythological king and Hindu deity in the popular 1980s show Ramayan, said the three weeks will give people a chance to spend more time with their families.
“In every situation I search for positivity and even in this lockdown I am using it to spend quality time with my family members. In today’s fast-paced world husband and wife don’t get time to talk, children have no time to spend with their parents. So, use these 21 days to spread positivity and strengthen your relationships,” Govil told ThePrint.
The popular show is coming back to television screen more than three decades later, with Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar announcing its rerun from 9am Saturday onwards on DD National.
Ramayan aired in 1987-88 and is based on the Hindu mythological epic written by Valmiki and Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas. The cast included Govil as Ram, Dara Singh as Hanuman, Deepika Chikhalia as Sita, Sunil Lahri as Lakshman and Arvind Trivedi as Ravan.
A mark of the show’s popularity were the empty streets one would see around 9:30am-10:30am every Sunday morning when people milled around TV sets to watch it. It also led to the idolatry of the actors.
‘Ramayan still relevant’
Govil, welcomed the move and said this will give an opportunity to the younger generation to see it and understand the values the story carries.
“The timing of the telecast is really good as everyone has to stay indoors. Ramayan had become a household name and the younger generation was always curious about it so it will give them an opportunity to see it. It will only spread more positivity as the entire family will now watch it together. If there are questions, the elders can interact with the younger ones and help them. So, for me, it is a very good step by the government,” he said.
When asked whether the ‘Netflix generation’ will be able to connect with Ramayan today, Govil said, “Ramayan is an epic and the relationships, the society reflected in it will be applicable for all generations. Jo rishte dosti ke, parivaar ke, pati aur patni ke dikhaye gaye the, wo aaj bhi toh hai? (The relationships shown — of family, husband-wife — they still exist today, don’t they?) The kind of response it has got on social media is tremendous and I think it will do quite well,” he added.
Govil also appreciated the response of the government to coronavirus. “The entire country has been united in the fight against coronavirus. The Modi government as well as all the state governments have been responding very well. Right from our doctors, police personnel, and the government, all have been risking their lives to tackle this pandemic. We also need to do our bit and stay indoors,” said Govil, who has been appearing in a few plays in Mumbai, where he is currently based.
The Mahabharata connect
On 25 March, Modi referred to another Hindu epic, Mahabharat, while interacting with the people of his parliamentary constituency Varanasi through a video-conference.
While talking about the lockdown, he said Mahabharat was won in 18 days but the fight against coronavirus would take 21 days. Just like the war was won under the guidance of Lord Krishna, 1.3 billion citizens of India will have to act as the “saarthis” (charioteers) to help the nation fight against Covid-19, the PM added.
Nitish Bharadwaj, who played the role of Lord Krishna in B.R. Chopra’s TV show Mahabharat, said, “Lord Krishna is not a mythological character but a historical figure. PM Modi’s choice of words is important as he talked about saiyyam (restraint) and sankalp (pledge). By invoking Krishna, he was motivating the people… Modi ji is asking people to follow that self-restraint.”
Noting that there was a possibility the lockdown extends beyond 21 days and people will likely face hardships, Bharadwaj said they need to follow self-restraint and follow all the rules.
“I am really happy with the response of the Modi government, and (Delhi CM Arvind) Kejriwal and (Punjab CM) Captain Amarinder and other non-BJP CMs have also supported the move of the government. I would just add one more keyword to PM’s sankalp and saiyyam, which is Swadhyay (introspection). India as a society needs to do that,” he said.
On whether Mahabharat might be telecast again as reported, Bharadwaj said if it was true, it may help Prasar Bharati revive its fortune. “Mahabharat has life lessons for everyone and hence if it is shown again, the younger generation can also learn from it. I just hope Prasar Bharati will publicise it well as it has goofed up in the past,” he said.
Bharadwaj, who was a BJP Member of Parliament from Jharkhand in 1996 when it was still a part of Bihar, said he would be happy to help the party in a “meaningful role”.
“If the party wants me to do something I am always there. I have not changed my ideology. But it can’t be about election rallies, but something at the level of policy. I am a qualified vet surgeon, and have spent considerable time abroad so that exposure should be utilised well,” he said.