There is a new TV serial of the Ramayan. While channel surfing I arrived to watch it during a moment of intense drama and stopped. It was the moment when Bharath had come with about half the population of Ayodhya to request Ram to return and take charge of the kingdom. Ram looked extremely intrigued and fascinated by everything - you know the kind of expression that firangs have when you bring them to an Indian wedding? Somewhat lost but aware that the proceedings have enormous significance to others and not knowing how to react? I seriously think he is hearing the story of the Ramayan for the first time or he still cannot believe that he got the hero's role. Lakshman - now this guy reminded me of this cricketer, the brat Sreesanth, alternating between anger and tears! Bharath has a great hairstyle and Shatrugan is really good looking.

At this point, my son walked in and said "As if Ram looks like that!"
I turned to him and asked if he had seen Ram and he replied "No, I grew up watching Arun Govil as Rama. And this actor is so different."
I remembered then that I grew up thinking that Krishna looked like N.T.Rama Rao. This actor (who later became the CM of Andhra Pradesh), played the role of Krishna in every mythological film in Tamil. Apparently he played various other Gods too in Telugu films with the result that everyone began to think of him as a living God. In the mornings, we used to find a lot of buses full of shaved heads around T.Nagar club - people who came for a Darshan of NTR garu immediately after visiting Tirupathi. Such was their belief.

So it required a major adjustment for me when handsome and young Nitish Bharadwaj played Krishna in BR Chopra's TV Serial of the Mahabharatha. Initially it seemed like blasphemy and imposture but he looked so much better that I decided that Krishna, my favorite mythological character, is more likely to have looked like him than NTR.

We are so used to imagining our Hindu Gods in ways that artists envisioned them and gave life to them in their art that if Ganesha were to come down with a normal face, we might ask for an identity - preferably a ration card. It might be rather disappointing if any of the Goddesses looked less beautiful than Aishwarya Rai right? And the bluish black Krishna and Greenish blue Ram might get eliminated in the first round of audition for their roles and might lose out to someone who looks like N.T.Rama Rao.

Isn't this in a strange way a reflection of the nature of Faith itself? We make up our own mental version of a God and we begin to believe in it and depend on it so much that we are unwilling to let anyone give a different version, even if it is better and more true and hence more beautiful. At some point our belief becomes more important than Truth itself. I guess that is when it stops being Faith and becomes Fanaticism.

Meantime on the screen Bharath is walking away with Rama's sandals on his head and Rama has the same bewildered expression - It appears as though he is wondering where he is going to get another pair of sandals in the forest and whether he can manage barefoot for 14 years.
29 Responses
  1. Serendipity Says:

    Heeehee @ the title ! You always pick good titles!
    Yes! Krishna is also my favorite mythological character and sadly no one fits the bill as much as Nitish does! Some telugu movies even have him painted an obnoxious blue! Not to mention the ringlets(Have you noticed most of our Gods on screen have bad hairdos?) , especially the curl on the forehead! *Shudder*


  2. Anonymous Says:

    Usha, couldn't stop laughing at the ration card reference!!
    It reminded me of the Tamizh movie-- you know the one where god appears as all the famous movie actors, to convey a message (can't recall the name)? The idea being it's easier to have something heard thru' famous people than someone on the road.

  3. Blogeswari Says:

    lol... reminded of S V Shekhar's Mahabharathathil mangatha where he goes back in time, gets disappointed when he meets Kattabomman, an olli actor. Infact he even mentions "ayyayya... kattabomman shivaji madiri irupparunnu nenachen.."

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Tell me. How do you pick such beautiful topics? How do you write it so eloquently that makes me say 'yaaaaaa' at every point, huh? Tell me please :-)

    I loved this post :) And its so true. I did not like seeing Nitish in any other role other than Krishna. Duryodhana, Karna, Yudhishtira, Rama...everyone had to be just them in real life too! I did not approve of them in any other characters:-))

    Even Rajkumar for that matter. Its a different thing that he is amazing in any role. But his role as Arjuna, Babhruvahana, Narada, Vishnu....oh, so beautifully depicted! No wonder people offered coconuts in the theatres when he came on the screen :-) People literally worshipped!

    And NTR - what a personality!! Scintillating!

  5. Aqua Says:

    i'm with yr son on this. Arun Govil is what my template of Ram is based on. The current Ram does not quite cut it. he somehow does look very convincing. infact he looks like the Ram in Dassera 'ram leela' skits. not the hero but the extra.

    did i tell you rogue monkey is a BIG fan of Ramayan. and i believe there is a "Ramayanam" also that is telecast on Sun TV, which she watches religiously during the day with the maid. hands folded and sitting on the ground. i must take a pic someday and send to you all :)

  6. Aqua Says:

    oops, i meant "he somehow does NOT look very convincing" :)

  7. ~nm Says:

    Hahaha! I just loved the way you related them! Ram being intriguied! Lazman as sreesanth :D Too good and too funny!

    I've never watched it myself but I guess I'm not loosing out on anything byt not watching it :D

  8. B o o Says:

    Oh God Blogeswari! Thats the most repeated dialogue in our household! Especially regarding my daughter as she looks all chubby in the photo but is too thin actually and my sister often says this dialogue and we all end up rolling on the floor laughing! Thats one dialogue which ll never go stale!!
    What a post, Usha! So funny and at the same time so deep! :)

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I yam telling you alls peoples, only NTR garu was Sri Ramudu for us in south India. You could not argue that down with the crowd that gathered around his house in T.Nagar for his darshan.
    CW:'Kaliyuga Kannan' was the name of the movie I believe. Sri Rama, my memory for trivia amazes me!

  10. Subhashree Says:

    I found the first and last paras very funny. I chanced upon the serial while channel surfing and thought Seetha looked sexier and the look doesn't match with the more homely Deepika, sorry don't know her last name. Anyway, I couldn't relate to this Ramayan at all.

    But then when I saw the older version, it is being telecast in some other channel, I almost died of boredom. The scenes moved so slow and the expressions on Arun Govil's face were permanent.

    I guess human mind can never be happy!

  11. Unknown Says:

    hahahaha you excel yourself! Hilarious!
    BTW, the Sreesanth thing reminds me. Seen his nose? Well, the story goes that Sreesanth wanted to join the Mafia but they refused because they thought they would end up being called the Cosa Nostril.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    You are right about belief becoming more important than the truth. Perhaps that is why religions like Islam frown upon any kind of symbolism.

    But I think we all need some point of reference, don't we? So this tendency is understandable. I would draw the line at calling it fanaticism though.

    On a lighter note, poor Nitish Bharadwaj. Handsome and smart though he was, I could never accept him as an ordinary hero after he played Krishna!

  13. i love krishna-- eerrrr nitish

  14. Usha Says:

    Seren: there she goes again - only appreciating the title . sob sob...
    Gods and bad hairdos - haha...They are so bad overall that I have n't particularly noticed the hair do. In some movie the snake around Shiva's neck was peeping so curiously that it was impossible to concentrate on what was going on.And then the extra heads of Brahma which stand out dangerously without anything to support them underneath!

    CW::). I had not watched this film - maami says it is kaliyuga Kannan! Must get hold of it.

    Blogeshwari:hehe... I remember a film where someone asks about Avvayyar and the guy says "teriyume, Namma K.B.Sundarambal!"

    S and S: Thanks for the kind words. I am glad you find the topics interesting.
    I suppose that was the first video version of the Mahabharatha and it managed to make an impact. I don't think I liked yudhistra but Bhishma , Arjuna, Draupati were all good. yes I have seen Rajkumar as krishna, sreenic=vasa wtc but unfortunately after NTR!

    Aqua; Poor new Ram - we have dismissed him even before he can prove himself. I knew RM was a great fan of hanuman. Pls send the pic.

    nm:Oh please watch, it may be good. I am just being cynical and over critical.

    B O O: I can almost hear SVS say the dialogue.

    Maami:Ay yagree with ewrything you have said!

    Nisha:Deepika Chikalia - the cry baby. I remember her sniffling all the time.
    yes Arun Govil had that permanent smile when you wanted to shake him and say "please change to another expression!"

    narendra Shenoy: :P. hahah...La Cosa NostrA/il

    Devaki: Funny you mentioned Islam. I was thinking precisely of the kind of fanaticism from certain followers of Islam where their belief and interpretation seems to take precedence over the underlying principles of the religion itself.

    ITW: ys I know. That is the face you put to that character right. And quite a lovely face too!


  15. dipali Says:

    This has to be your funniest post, Usha. I'm chuckling away as I type. The last lines re sandals were most hilarious!

  16. Raj Says:

    I had the same problem with James Bond. I grew up believing that Sean connery was James Bond. One fine day, he was replaced by Roger Moore, who I felt ought to be banned than Bond. After him, we have had a range of masqueradors complelety ill-suited for the role. I would rather have NTR as Bond instead of these jokers. Grrrrrr.

  17. WhatsInAName Says:

    rofl! You are so very right. We conjure up images of the Gods and sometimes, it takes too long to accept deviations :) I remember stories of NTR lol.

  18. A great post.

    You nailed it when you said sometimes our belief is more than the truth.

    Not many may even care to know the symbolism behind the depiction of Gods. If that is understood, the TV characters cease to affect us.Sure they may amuse us, as you have said in many ways.

  19. Mahadevan Says:

    We know about Damayanthi (Nala's wife) from Ravi Varma Sketches only. Many youngsters of those days totally identified Mukesh Khanna with Bhishma or Paintal with Sakuni.Tamil Vanan's Shankarlal, Devan's Thuppariyum Sambu, and even today R.K.Lakshman's common man who is yet to open his mouth, all speak volumes about the artists' ability to totally identify with a character - mythological or otherwise, leading to a mindset in us.

  20. Unknown Says:

    Girl you'll get slammed one day ! Hilarious. BTW lovely new get up - especially the red cilli with the coffee- adds that extra bit of dash!

  21. Mathangi Says:

    Template is very good. Final sensedaane? naanum angerndudaan eduthen...

    NT Ramarao maadhiri varaadhu maami.. these days children think Raman is like Spiderman or Superman... adhudaan Hanu-Man apdinu comics vandhuduthae!

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Nice template Usha! Very clean and uncluttered!

  23. Swati Says:

    Ohh true ..I cannot imagine anyone else as Krishna except Nitish bhardwaj and anyone else as Rama except Arun Govil :)

  24. Swati Says:

    And yes ..the new look is so nice and FRESH !!

  25. Mama - Mia Says:

    trust you to blend humour and poignant thoughts so effortlessly!! :)

    faith which is something thats supposed to simplify our life 9i mean you believe in super power, pray, put in your efforts and let god do the rest kinda simplify!) and yet we tend to complicate it to no end!

    i must say, my favourite god us ganpati!! he is the cutest! and no human being can really depict! such kind eyes can only be diving!!

    you know i would recognize him by his eyes!! :D

    lovely lovely post!!



  26. Hey! That is an absolutely COOL (or should I say HOT- since its your fave cuppa chai) header. Very very nice and you! :-D

  27. Hmmm I didn't like Arun Govil so much in the Ramayan -his smile used to look so smug and self righteous. But I haven't seen the new Ramayan, so I dunno how much worse the current one is.

    Nitish rocked as Krishna. He oozed charm in oodles and you could understand what the gopikas went gaga over... and yet he also came across as an all-knowing, all understanding, all forgiving yet judging... Dunno if it was good acting, but he certainly brought Krishna alive. I really wonder hy he didn't go on to further good roles.
    He did do a hit mallu movie- njan gandharvan, where he was the gandharvan, but that too had shades of myth. Maybe once you've been placed on a pedestal, people find it difficult to accept him as a regular guy..?

  28. Anonymous Says:

    The new look looks beautiful Usha! I love the header.

  29. Artnavy Says:


    hope u read this comment and watch the fairly new Tamil movie "Arai en 305 il Kadavul "

    Look out for Prakash raj as God...