Mumbai, August 23: In an exciting revival of the once-popular phenomenon of 'Sunday morning TV viewing for the entire family', Zee TV launched the country's most revered mythological series 'Ramayan' on Sunday, August 12 at 11 AM. While the other characters were finalised well in advance, the quest for the perfect casting of Ram and Sita was on for months with several actors in the television fraternity auditioning for the lead roles. After months of speculation about who will land the much-coveted roles, the channel has announced that actors Gagan Malik and Neha Sargam have been roped in to play Lord Ram and Sita respectively. Actor Neil Bhatt who shot to fame as Abhi in Zee TV's 12/24 Karol Bagh will be playing Lakshman. They will make their first appearance on the show in this Sunday's episode (August 26) at 11 AM.
Sukesh Motwani, Head- Fiction, Zee TV said, "Ramayan is fundamental to the cultural fabric of India. Lord Ram and Sita are embodiments of the ideal son and the ideal wife. They have been enshrined over the centuries and worshipped in our country, making the casting of Ram and Sita an extremely critical choice. We wanted actors who looked and acted the part from the moment they entered the frame and with the casting of Gagan and Neha, I think we have the ideal Ram and Sita. They both have the grace, dignity and poise required to play the roles."
The only team in India truly equipped to make 'Ramayan', Moti Sagar Productions, is producing the show. Producer Moti Sagar said, "It's a pleasure to produce Zee TV's 'Ramayan'. It's a grand recreation of the original epic and our focus is on authenticity of representation. 'Ramayan' explores the subtleties of the delicate relationships within one's family and shows viewers a way of life. The show has opened up to a very positive response. The music by ace composer Ravindra Jain has been widely appreciated. The make-up and costume teams have received rave reviews for recreating the looks of every mythological character with finesse and accuracy. Apt casting, authenticity of the sets, the first-rate cinematography and catchy visual effects only add sheen to our content."
Gagan Malik is naturally excited about his upcoming role. He says "I am only beginning to fathom the immense responsibility entrusted to me while being signed on for the role of Ram. I consider myself deeply fortunate to have been selected for this prestigious role and would like to thank Zee TV for this lifetime opportunity. Playing Ram, unlike any other character I have played so far, requires a great deal of preparation, be it in terms of reading up on the finer nuances of the Ramcharitamanas or studying and imbibing everything that Ram stood for. As an actor, it will be my endeavor to get the body language, the demeanour, the tonal quality of my voice and the diction right. I am really hoping that the viewers will appreciate my work!"
The show's leading lady Neha Sargam was last seen in a cameo on Zee TV's 'Punarvivaah'. Talking about her upcoming role as Sita, Neha says, "As a little girl, I remember my grandmother telling us stories from the 'Ramayan'. She would tell us sisters about how each of us should strive to emulate Sita when we grow up. While I don't know if I have been successful in emulating Sita's virtues in my personal life, landing this role is the closest I will ever get to living out my granny's dream for all of us. So I dedicate this role to my grandmother. I look forward to the day when my performance appeals so much to the audience that they only see me as Sita and shower me with love!"
In the two episodes of Ramayan that have gone on air, viewers have seen Dharti Mata approaching Lord Vishnu to put an end to Ravan's terror in Manav Lok. Lord Vishnu assures her that he will soon assume a human form and relieve her from Ravan's misdoings. In the meanwhile, Raja Dashrath (Saurabh Shukla) has won a war thanks to wife Kaikeyi (Shikha Swaroop). He thanks her from the bottom of his heart and grants her two wishes, which she humbly refuses. He announces that her wishes will be granted whenever she requests him in the future. A 'Putra Prapti Yagya' is organized whereby Vashishta feeds a special Kheer to Raja Dashrath's three wives Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi who give birth to Lord Rama, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan. The second episode sees Ram and his siblings as 12 year olds. Kakbhushandi, the crow known to be the biggest devotee of Lord Vishnu, gets wind of the fact that Vishnu has assumed the form of young Ram and visits them in Ayodhya. Seeing the young boy being scolded by mother Kaushalya, Kakbhushandi is convinced that Ram is not Lord Vishnu incarnate. As the crow snatches a roti from Ram's hands and begins to fly away, Ram's hands begin to extend and follow him through all the Loks. Kakbhushandi realizes that Ram is indeed Lord Vishnu incarnate and profusely apologizes to him. The third episode on Sunday, August 26 will see the four brothers go to Gurukul and learn the lessons life under the tutelage of Vashishta and Guruma. Having finished their education and turned into accomplished young men, Ram (Gagan Malik), Lakshman (Neil Bhatt), Bharat and Shatrughan will return to Ayodhya where their father Raja dashrath and their queen mothers eagerly await their return.
Watch the Ramayan, an eternal classic, every Sunday at 11 am