Home >Industry >Media >Ramayana returns with a bang, notches up record TV viewership

NEW DELHI : Ramanand Sagar's popular TV series Ramayana, first aired in the 1980s, has garnered huge viewership within a week, as people stay home because of the lockdown in the wake of the covid-19 crisis and turn to consume more entertainment.

According to data from television monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), the mythological epic garnered 51 million viewers on the Sunday evening in the first weekend of telecast, the highest ever figure for the Hindi GEC (general entertainment channel) genre since 2015. Highest rated in urban centres and mega-cities, the show further notched up 34 million, 45 million and 40 million viewers on Saturday morning, evening and Sunday morning respectively over the same weekend.

The findings are part of the second report BARC has brought out along with data measurement firm Nielsen in the midst of the covid-19 crisis, on TV viewership and smartphone usage. It is titled Crisis Consumption: An Insights Series Into TV, Smartphones and Audiences.

Ramayana, aired during 1987-88, is a drama adaptation of the Hindu epic of the same name, and is primarily based on Valmiki's Ramayan and Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas. It had garnered massive audience, with its stars gaining near idolatory status. Telecast every Sunday, with Arun Govil as Ram and Dara Singh as Hanuman, the classic used to empty out streets. Such was the appeal that a remake by Sagar’s company was aired on NDTV Imagine in 2008, and on Zee TV in the mid-90s and on Star Plus and Star Utsav in the 2000s.

Apart from Ramayana and the other mythological epic Mahabharat, state-run broadcaster Doordarshan has further expanded on its slew of nostalgic offerings to keep viewers engaged at this time. Among the classics revived by the network are historical dramas Chanakya directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi on the life of the economist, and Upanishad Ganga produced by Chinmaya Mission Trust, again directed by Dwivedi.

Among other shows planned, starting the first week of April, are the daily one-hour telecast of superhero series Shaktimaan featuring Mukesh Khanna, Shrimaan Shrimati, a comedy starring Reema Lagoo, Rakesh Bedi and Jatin Kanakia for an afternoon slot, Shah Rukh Khan’s Circus, detective show Byomkesh Bakshi, drama show Hum Hain Na and sitcoms Tu Tota Main Maina and Dekh Bhai Dekh.

Television consumption is on the rise as the lockdown continues. As people stay at home and television broadcasters run out of fresh content, reviving classic shows seems to be a common recourse.

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