Updated: October 6, 2019 11:00:38 am
In the 1980s, Arun Govil became god. The lead actor in Ramanand Sagar’s television blockbuster, Ramayan, he played the maryada purushottam as an approachable young man with a genial smile. Govil has essayed numerous other roles, including the hero of Vikram Air Betaal, but it was Ram who drew the crowds wherever he went, including airports. Three decades later, the actor will revisit the role in The Legend of Ram: Ek Shabd, Ek Baan, Ek Naari, a Broadway-style play directed by Delhi-based Atul Satya Koushik that will open in Delhi during Dusshera next week.
Koushik’s previous productions include Chakravyuh, starring Nitish Bharadwaj as Krishna, and Raavan ki Ramayan, in which Puneet Issar plays the king of Lanka. Govil was an obvious choice for his new play since Koushik had “grown up watching Govil in Ramayan”. Edited excerpts with Govil:
How different is the Ram of this play from the one you performed 30 years ago?
The Ram I play now is human rather than the divine figure of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan. He is a normal man, who faces many struggles in life, sticks to his ideals, emerges victorious and begins to be considered a Vishnu of his times. What we are trying to say in the play is that there are people who have sublime qualities and become godlike.
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Since Ram has emerged as a political figure and an election issue, does your play have a message for our leaders?
One of the times, you see Ram’s human quality is towards the end when he says, ‘Praja ke hit ke aagey raja shunya ho jata hai’. (A king has no personal agenda beyond whatever benefits his subjects). This is true even today. It’s a positive message to politicians. Don’t Members of Parliament have any responsibility towards the lakhs of voters who have elected them? Is it enough to just win an election? When one of Ram’s subjects raises a finger of suspicion at Sita, Ram’s duty is, first, as a king and he acts accordingly and exiles Sita.
How did Ram impact your life as an actor and a person?
Everything that happens has a good and a bad side. On the one hand, I became known as the actor who played Ram on TV and didn’t have to introduce myself to people. On the other hand, one starts wondering, ‘Why am I known only for this role and not the others?’ I started getting the same type of roles because I had been typecast as a character. Then again, I stopped smoking because, if people were coming and touching my feet, they wouldn’t want to see me with a cigarette. That was a blessing in disguise. I had to think, ‘If people are showering me with the kind of love many actors aspire for, is it necessary for me to smoke, drink and attend parties?’ Faith and religion are very strong in our country and we have to respect that.
Is the stage a new experience after your experiences on the screen?
I had never done commercial theatre before this, only amateur plays. When Atul came up with the idea of the play, I thought that a live performance before an audience makes you more alert and agile. As a person, who has had a long stint in acting, I have always been a keen observer. I take in small things, such as the reactions of my co-actors. If I can move them, it means that I am doing the right thing on stage. If they are not affected by my performance, it means that the audience won’t be either.
The play will be staged at Kamani auditorium, Delhi, on October 8, 3 pm and 6 pm. Tickets on BookMyShow. Contact: 9873579796
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