Sunil Lahri on Nitesh Tiwari's Ramayana: Alia Bhatt could do more justice to Sita if she'd done the role 5 years earlier
Sunil Lahri talks to HT about the return of Ramayan, his comments on portrayal of Lakshman in Adipurush and Nitesh Tiwari's upcoming film on the Hindu epic.
Sunil Lahri, popularly known as Lakshman of Ramanand Sagar's hit TV show Ramayan, will once again be seen on the small screen as the show is all set to be telecasted again. Sunil was seen alongside Arun Govil, who played Ram, and Deepika Chikhalia, who was seen as Sita, in the 1987 show. The series also had powerful performances by late Dara Singh, who portrayed Hanuman and late Arvind Trivedi, who was seen in the role of Raavan.
Sunil has now also compared the portrayal of Ram and Lakshman in Ramayan to the one seen in the recent release, Adipurush. He didn't like the Om Raut film and has shared a piece of advice for all those who wish to make a film or a show on the epic once again, including Nitesh Tiwari. Also read: Mahabharat actor Girija Shankar on Adipurush: 'There's no need to use this tapori langauge, they could have done better'
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Sunil Lahri spoke about the return of Ramayan and how it will remain evergreen and significant irrespective of the generation its audience belongs. He also shared his experience of shooting for the show in the '80s. Excerpts:
What is your reaction to Ramayan returning to TV again?
Ramayana has always been recited in our homes at some time or the other. It is a part of our lives. The only difference is that now it will be played on the small screen.
Which memories rush to your mind when you think of Ramayan?
I remember how there used to be a lockdown-like situation when Ramayan used to be played on the small screen. People used to gather in front of the television sets for the show in huge numbers and things would come to a standstill. When it was released during the lockdown, people watched it with as much love and respect as they did for the first time. People from across generations watched the show.
How was shooting for a mythological show different from working on any other project?
It used to be quite different as there used to be heavy costumes from that period. Jewellery wasn't so comfortable and mukuts (headgears) used to be tight and would sometime poke us in the skin. I remember my mukut was so tight that it would leave marks on my forehead for hours. Also, there were no air conditioners and we had to shoot in hot weather conditions. We used to sweat inside the costumes, sweat would trickle down our back but never did we show it on our face. The shots also used to be very long in those times and we used to have long dialogues with complicated words. I used to ask for my scenes well in advance so I could work on my dialogue delivery. One couldn't go wrong with it at all.
Did working on Ramayan bring any permanent changes to your life, lifestyle or habits?
Ramayan is about relationships and it certainly improved my relationships after I worked on the show.
Siddhant Karnick, who plays Vibhishan in Adipurush, recently said that we need to show our gods as cooler than superheroes. What's your take on this?
I don't know what he finds so cool in this (film). I think his definition of cool is different. Manoj Muntashir has said Hanuman ji is not a God, he is a devotee. Hanuman is God for us, he is the only bhakt (devotee) who is worshipped in temples.
What are your thoughts on the portrayal of Lakshman in Adipurush, played by Sunny Singh?
Actually, none of the characters were very well defined. The expressions on the faces of Lakshman (Sunny Singh) and Raghava (Prabhas) were almost similar. In Ramayana, Ram and Lakshman have very different personalities. While Ram was ice, Lakshman was fire. It was also very clearly shown in Ramayan. There was a stark difference between the two. Here, almost all characters looked non-defined.
Ramayan remains the best version of the epic but new versions will keep coming up. What advice will you give to those who wish to make it again?
They should not change the base. The treatment of the Ramayana should be decent and respectful. It cannot be experimented with while making a new version. The language, the depiction of the characters and the scenes need to be in sync with the epic. The characters should be well-defined. Our show was true to the essence of Ramayana and people across religions, age groups and demographics connected with it and liked it.
Now, Nitesh Tiwari is gearing up to make Ramayana with Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor. Are you convinced with the choice of the cast?
Both of them are very good actors and I think will do justice to the subject. Ranbir is a very good choice for the role of Ram and can deliver a good performance. Alia too is talented but I think if Alia had done the role of Sita five years earlier, she would have done more justice to the character. It's my personal opinion. I feel Alia has changed in the last few years. I am not sure how convincing she will look as Sita now.
Ramayan will be re-telecast on Shemaroo TV from July 3.