Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan is more than just a show for millions of Indians. It’s a story that every generation in India has watched and now that it’s back, people are glued to the TV screens again. Actors Arun Govil, Dipika Chikhalia and Dara Singh played the roles of Lord Ram, Sita and Lord Hanuman, respectively. Their performances looked very real on-screen and hence, people at that time used to worship them in real life too.
The show is also very special to these actors and their family members. On the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, I spoke to late legendary actor Dara Singh’s son Vindu Dara Singh about his father, the show and much more. Vindu’s Whatsapp display picture is his dad’s Lord Hanuman look from Ramayan and it shows how much the show is special to him too. While sharing anecdotes from his father’s shooting days and his performance, there was a lot of joy and excitement in his voice.
Read the interview below:
Your dad played the role of Lord Hanuman in Ramayan which people remember even today and now it’s back on TV. Do you have any fond memory of him telling you something about the show?
I’ve seen the shooting of the show. I used to accompany my father when they used to shoot in Umargaon. It was amazing.
The team of Ramayan used to travel from Mumbai to Umargaon in a Surat train. They used to shoot in Umargaon. The shoot used to be of 5-6 days and once they were done, they all used to return to Mumbai for 2-3 days. We told our dad we want to come on the sets when you will be shooting the flying scene. So one day, my brother and I went with him to Umargaon to see the shooting. Everyone used to have breakfast in the morning but my dad had stopped eating non-veg when he used to shoot for Hanuman character. After having his breakfast, he used to get ready for his character for an hour. For the entire day, he used to not eat anything. He used to have either coconut water or some juice during lunch. My dad used to take out his make-up and mask only once the shoot got finished during the night time.
About the flying scene, I remember there was a person named Ravi ji who told my dad to lie on a big machine. My dad used to lie on it and shake his hands and legs and it looked like as if he was really flying in the clouds. He then told me to wait to witness something interesting during the lunchtime. After having their lunch, my dad along with Arun and Dipika used to open the studio’s gate and there were thousands of people who would come and touch their feet. This all happened 33 years ago. But even today, Ramayan managed to break TRP records and Doordarshan might have never thought something like this would happen. I feel like Hanuman ji will also help us for COVID-19. Let’s pray everyone gets well soon and all this ends. Hanuman ji first got sanjivani booti, now he may give us some doctor who can cure this.
Dara Singh was known for his sense of humour. So how was he on the sets?
On the sets, he was completely into his character. But after the pack-up, they all used to sit and sing together and have lots of fun. All the actors were like one big family. Ramanand Sagar’s family is very close to my family since years now. In fact, Arun Govil contacted me as the show is now back. He said even now people address him as Ram and he never got any good role after it. I told him the world knows him as Ram and it’s very powerful.
What do you have to say as the show is back on TV?
We all are very happy. I remember, when my father was very ill, I had asked him if there’s anything left to do from his bucket list. He told me he has done everything, there’s nothing left. He’s now 84 and it’s his time to say good-bye. My dad later told me that he wants to watch Ramayan and in 2012, during April-May, we saw the whole Ramayan together again.
Ramayan is known to many people but now it’s a part of every Indians house as it is back on DD. Arun is also very happy as his grandkids and other family members are watching the show. It’s wonderful.
The following and craze for Ramayan was something else at that time. I still remember if there used to be power cut, people used to break the transformer. Those working in the electricity department used to be worried and made sure that there is no power cut at 9 in the morning so that people can watch Ramayan.
I’ve also done Hanuman 10-12 times in my life. He told me ‘Vindu you should never touch non-veg when you shoot’. Don’t have any bad thought in your mind when you are working on Hanuman. He used to tell me to think only good and positive things, nothing wrong. He used to say the dialogues even in his sleep. My mom used to remind him that there is no shooting going on here. That was the kind of dedication he showed.