As Indians stand together during the lockdown period, what’s kept them going are the various entertainment options available on the small screen and OTT platforms. To keep them entertained during these tough times, by taking them down on the road of nostalgia, Doordarshan has been screening the epic show, BR Chopra’s Mahabharata, which ran successfully from 1988 to 1990, on its DD Bharti channel.
Since Pen India LTD holds all the rights of the celebrated mythological tele-series, Doordarshan reached out to Pen studios’ CMD Dr Jayantilal Gada for the rights.
Since the show has done brilliantly (as evident from the TRP ratings) and the lockdown has extended, DD has decided to have a re-run of the show on DD Retro channel (from May 3 to 26, at 3 pm) and Pen has enthusiastically supported them in the endeavour keeping the larger interest of the nation in mind. The idea behind the re-run is to ensure that people are entertained and don’t lose their high spirit during these tough times.
Recalling how Doordarshan reached out to him for the telecast, Dr Gada, says, “Doordarshan was in talks with us for a while for the procurement of the rights for the telecast of Mahabharata. But, after the Coronavirus stalled most activities in the country, the process got accelerated. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javdekar, requested me to share the rights as soon as possible and I agreed immediately to lend all the support possible to Doordarshan for telecasting Mahabharata. My team and I have left no stone unturned in promoting the show and we are excited about its re-run on DD’s Retro channel. I’m glad that we have been able to keep up with the changing times and have made every possible attempt to engage with our viewers. In fact, we recently had a digital interaction session, where the cast of Mahabharata from different parts of the world interacted with their fans on social media via the Pen Digital handle.”
BR Chopra’s Mahabharata featured Mukesh Khanna as Bhishma, Pankaj Dheer as Karna, Gajendra Chouhan as Yudhishthir, Arjun as Arjun, Roopa Ganguly as Draupadi, Puneet Issar as Duryodhan and Nitish Bharadwaj as Krishna, among others. A source says that the cast of the show is happy with the telecast and elated that it will have a re-run. They have been warmed by the audience feedback they have received even after 30 years.
Talking about the impact his part as Samay on Mahabharat had on his career, Harish Bhimani says, “I’ve done so much as a news broadcaster and anchor, but my part as Mahabharata’s Samay has overshadowed everything I did before and after the show. That’s the kind of impact my part had. I believe we are all in a state of war right now, the difference is that Coronavirus is like Kauravas and our homes are our battlefields. We need to fight this together. The kind of love and response Mahabharata has received even after so many years is humbling. I’m thankful to Mr Jayantilal Gada for making this (the telecast) happen.”
Talking about playing Arjun on the show, Feroz Khan says, “I’m so glad that I’ve got the opportunity to connect with my fans from across the world and talk about my part as Arjun on Mahabharata, all thanks to Pen India Ltd for organising this interaction session. Playing Arjun on the show was fantastic and it was a lifetime honour for me to do that role. I’ve worked in more than 250 films, but the kind of camaraderie the cast of Mahabharata shared was something I’ve never experienced before. We used to work like a family and I really miss that.”