Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ramayan Ramayan

(Say the heading in your best Narad "Narayan, Narayan" imitation)

“Seeta-Ram Chareet Ati Pawan” (the Paa dragged) the only times I have heard these lines were sitting in front of TV or running to get in front of TV, and I am sure many people of you would say the same thing. I don't need to tell anybody who had heard this that the serial Ramayan was extremely famous at those times.

So famous that the traffic on Sunday mornings used to be sparse (the trend taken forward by Mahabharat, when traffic used to be zero). In fact I remember watching a whole episode standing in front of TV shop (/hotel TV) when we were on Banglore for trip one Sunday.

Anyway, the reason I dragged all this history (ancient history for some) out in the open, is: recently I got access to the episodes of this epic, and watching them again refreshed all these memories of sitting in front of TV with the whole family, having the cup of coffee, and getting the dishes of breakfast out during advertisements. Guess many people must have such memories, given the sheer popularity of the serial.

This was one of the first serials I liked on the TV. In fact, I think Ramayan started the whole trend of religious serials (which was taken way ahead by cable channels, so much so that only english channels would be worth watching from all those Gods who visit us through the channels). At least my parents never had problem with us watching this, for the content and after watching again, now actually I am appreciating some of the things about our culture they showed/told in that serial. If the kids are insisting on watching TV, these serials should be recast. It is indeed filled with sometimes in-depth knowledge of our culture. The special effects team was marvellous (for details, see below), and the main actors pulled off very good performances, which actually matched their characters.

But then, the “re”view of the episodes brought some more things to the light, which make these episodes a very good source of entertainment too. For one thing, I am sure the music/song writers must have doubled up as dialogue writers, which must be the reason that each episode has about 80% songs/shlok + 10% music, the rest are dialogues. I haven't yet come across a fully musical episode, but I am sure one such thing is lurking somewhere out there. But this helps when you are watching it again, so that you can forward all these things, and finish a half-hour episode in 10 min.

Then again, kids will be kids and actors will be actors. I am sure I heard little Bharat shouting “Yay!!!” when it was told he got maximum mangoes with his arrows (and I am pretty sure the word originated from “Yes”, giving us a shocking insight into the One Source of All Languages theory). And how many people have noticed the look of incredulity/unbelief/envy on the face of Lakshman when Ram kills Tratika? He has kept his feelings pretty much in control other times, but here, he slipped. And then, when the brothers tease Ram after he is in love with Seeta, the banter is way away from the reality. But then again, they were heros/Gods in ancient times, so may be that will be norm of those times.

But the extras/secondary actors leave much to be desired. The Rakshak mandali normally work by their make-up, and the only acting needed from them is laughing evilly. Still, I am sure the script said that when Parashuram comes in Janak's court after the breaking of Shivdhanushya, he is supposed to be angry. He tries to pull off the Jamadagni, and succeeds in looking as if he is so terrorised that even a cat mewing behind him will be enough for him to run back to Mahendra. The whole scene is so funny, that I was laughing hard even 10 minutes after it was over. The whole sequence contains Parashuram wishing all “Chirayu bhav” etc etc when they welcome him, even if he is angry (try saying something good when you are angry, the effect is irresistibly funny), the Lakshman betting him on about his state and saying we don't hurt Brahman, and the final touch comes from Ram, whose lines when appeasing the old chip off the block (well, they both are Avatars of Vishnu) sound so very insulting.

After I recovered from this, the next episode is spent in all the marriages and all, which are about same as Barjatya films marriages. After the marriages, the whole next episode is spent by everyone asking everybody else not to leave, and live some more days. After Janak to Dasharath, Dasharath to (one of) his brother-in-law, I was expecting the next scene with Vashishth to Vishwamitra, and could foresee the dialogues.

After all the fun, I thought that Balkand was never my favourite Kand anyway, and I shifted my focus to the favourite Yudhdhakand. I guess you must have guessed the subject I am going to talk about next. Yes, the reason many a children lost eyes, and many a brooms lost the sticks in them. The war with arrows (Astras) where the (in)famous special effects team came into their own. The eternally going arrows, with something (either some gas, or some divali-crackers type light and fire) coming out of their tips. When the arrows (finally) met each other, there would a sound, and then one of the arrows would vanish, causing the winner glee and the loser in the bargain much chagrin. I have just seen some of the (famous) Ram-baan returning to his quiver after the exchange. I am sure that's what is called “Akshay bhata”, the quiver of infinite arrows.

And the way Laksham taunts his enemies is, in a word, priceless. And the look on the face of Angad after his tail is retracting in his body after he has talked in Ravan's court is, well imagine the look on your face when something is being pushed into your body, and I mean something the width of your wrist, and length more than your height. After this he challenges the Courtiers/Warriors in the court to move his foot, and the action he does reminds you of a kid throwing tantrum and sitting on the ground.

The first day of war starts with both the sides standing in front of each other and saying “... ki jai” so many times that you start shouting for them to get it over with and start the fighting. And the main players fight in front of a background of war, in which many times the enemies can be seen passing clean through each other.

Well, the post will go on and on, and still there are many episodes to be seen. Of course I haven't mentioned Hanuman anywhere, because his roles in the episodes I have seen till now is minimal. But then, Dara Singh... that should be enough.

I know I have written a pretty bad “re”view (काढलिये म्हणा ना), but then, I guess saying that it is one of my all time favourite serials (along with Mahabharat, Byomkesh Bakshi etc etc) should be enough to show me that I don't think it's a junk.

While we are on the subject, can anybody tell me where I can get Mahabharat or Byomkesh Bakshi episodes?

Quote of the Day:

Television is a new medium. It's called a medium because nothing is well-done.
- Fred Allen (1894 - 1956), on the radio program The Big Show, Dec. 17, 1950


~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

first !!!!

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

i never really took to the ramayan episodes coz of the speech b/f the serial ... loved the mahabharata tho .. esp the :
" Main ... samay hoon " ...

seriously , was there envy on lakshmana's face when rama killed the rakshasi ?

got the soundtrack of jungle book and uncle scrooge :)))

and rem spirit of unity concerts ? it still runs ! thankfully :)

Amey said...

@Deepa: Yup, the look on his face was priceless. A combination of "How could he?" and "He did that?" Words don't do full justice to it.

I was never a fan of classical music :(