Ashish Sharma's unconventional projection of a romantic hero in Rangrasiya had women swooning over him (not to mention the shirtless shot!). The handsome hunk is back in a divine avatar as Lord Rama in the lavish mythological show, Siya Ke Ram that goes on air tonight. Playing God is no mean feat explains Ashish in an exclusive interview with BollywoodLife. Excerpts...
Women lusted after you in Rangrasiya. You are back on TV as Lord Ram. Do you feel it will affect your fan base as this is a mythological show?
No...I have no apprehensions. I am an actor and want to do as many diverse roles as possible. When Nikhil Sinha narrated the script to me, he was crystal clear in his vision. I loved his perspective and how they were going to project Lord Rama. I am very excited about the show.
Siya Ke Ram explores the relationship between Lord Ram and Sita. Did this different take on the classic Ramayan impact your decision?
Yes...Ramayana has been made for TV many times. This is one aspect that has been overlooked. Though he was a God, Lord Rama came to earth in form of a human being and had his own personal journey. This has been overlooked in the previous version of the Ramayana. Our story talks about how Sita was instrumental in making Ram a God.
What kind of research has gone into the project?
The writing team has put in a lot of efforts. I only read Valmiki's Ramayana before the start of the shoot as I felt reading too many versions could affect my impression of the character. I wanted to be as neutral as possible. Devdutt Pattanaik is the creative consultant for the project. The show is written by two eminent writers Anand Neelakantan and Subrat Sinha.
What kind of preparation did you put in for the role?
I believe an actor has to look the part first. People will accept him only if they envision him and physicality comes into play. I worked hard on my body by doing a combination of workouts. Then, I requested the makers to give me four to six months to grow my hair. I just hate fake hair and it looks very silly on screen. I also learnt archery for the role. Ram was a warrior prince and it took me around seven months to get ready.
And what about the character's mental makeup...
After looking the part, it was about understanding the character's psyche. Since Ram was a God, he always radiated a sense of inner peace. I started meditating on a regular basis to bring that tranquility on my face. It was tough for me to build such a routine but things fell into place.
The mythological heroes on Indian television are real hotties. Do you think women want their Gods to be desirable?
I feel every character on TV needs to look desirable, whether it's a man or a woman. Or else, why would people tune on their TVs to see them every day? Moreover, Indian Gods have been given certain physical attributes in ancient texts, which make them very desirable for example- Lord Rama is lotus-eyed one. And if that's the case, you have to look appealing.
Finite shows are coming on TV. Do you see that as a heartening trend for actors?
Well, the only long-running shows on TV are ones that were launched four to five years back. No new show has continued for more than one or two years. That is the current pattern. When there is a definite script in place, a show's quality can improve, which is good for every actor.
You said that film producers look upon popular TV actors as sasta jugaad. Comment
Every TV actor who is slightly popular gets film offers. A producer also knows that he is a household name and can add value to a project. While I agree that cinema is a bigger platform but TV stars have their own position. Talking about popularity, TV as a medium is equally big as films. Or else, why would every top actor take up projects on television. For me, a film role has to be one that excites me or enhances me as an actor. I would not like to spend time doing a film project that does not convince me when I know I can get better work on TV.
Post Rangrasiya and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, you were on a long break. Don't you suffer from insecurity issues?
My upbringing gives me my sense of security. My desires are not my needs. As long as I live with this mantra, I won't be insecure. I believe that my talent won't fail me.
You are shooting in Hyderabad. Is it tough being away from Archana (wife)?
Yeah...it is little tough to manage time but she's an actress and knows the demands of the profession. I do miss her and my three puppies terribly. Whenever I get two-three days off, I come back to Mumbai to be with her. In Hyderabad, we are housed in Ramoji City only. Let's see, in the future, we might rent out a place in Hyderabad but it's too early now.
PRAKRITI ROY visits the sets of upcoming show Siya Ke Ram to tell you how viewers in for a visual treat with a changed perspective
Ramayana from Sita's point of view was only waiting to happen. And now that it has, the icing on the cake is that it is being unfolded under the hi-tech wings of the makers of grand mythologicals on TV like Devon ke Dev... Mahadev.
Pegged on a high-budget and a stellar star cast, this show is being filmed at Hyderabad's Ramoji Film City. Large, movable sets have been made for the two kingdoms in the show, Mithila and Ayodhya. Under the keen eye of art director Chokas Bhardwaj, the show is all set to bring alive that ancient world which has almost always caught the public imagination thus far.
All the sets and artwork, the show's creator Aniruddh Pathak insists, have been created after intense research of the histories and ambience of both the kingdoms as well as the individual characters.
"We have selected the content keeping in mind the channel's nayi soch motto. Ramayana, despite its widespread text, has been fodder for TV shows at least eight times before, all of which were based on Tulsidas' Ramcharit Manas. When Star Plus set out to make this show, our research team found that other important characters in the epic have often been ignored. We have tried to give these characters equal importance through this show," he explains, giving examples.
"Sita has a huge role in making Ram maryada-porushottam. She had a progressive approach and the ability to make choices. Unfortunately, we have always kept her as a doormat. We will tell you how Sita is equal to Ram," he says. Director Nikhil Sinha, who gained acclaim when he worked on Mahadev..., is unhappy with the fact that we accept whatever is written in our texts without asking questions. But the new rational generation is now asking why? "Through our show, we try to explore these unanswered questions like how did Ram, a human, become God? What made Sita eligible to be his wife," he explains.
As the title suggests, the story is from Sita's perspective. Talking about this concept, he says: "The most beautiful thing about this show is that it is about equality. Ram and Sita understood each other because they were ahead of their time. When we show a story only from Ram's side, Sita gets relegated to the backdrop. But if you see it from an overall perspective, all the characters seem more important, including Dashrath, Janak, the brothers, the mothers and most importantly, Sita herself," Sinha says.
Mahadev had garnered a lot of attention not just because of its subject matter but also because of the big scale CGI special effects and technology that were used. Siya Ke Ram promises that same with Nikhil Sinha at helm as director. "Nikhil has made some fabulous tech innovations. Our promo, which is being compared to the special effects of Baahubali, is mostly because of our sets and cinematography," Pathak says.
As a creative person, Sinha is known for doing big-scale shows and his company Vortex which does VFX for films and TV (including Mahadev...) is working on Siya Ke Ram. If the sets at Hyderabad promise grandeur, so does the starcast. South Indian actress Madirakshi who plays Sita, was pursued by Sinha for seven months before she agreed to do a look test. "I watched Ramayana on DVD and read as many books on Sita as I could, specifically the one by Devdutt Pattnaik, who is also our mentor for the show," she says.
Winner of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa Season 7 and popular face on TV, Ashish Sharma, plays Ram.
Apart from the leads, Dalip Tahil plays Dashrath and Bijay Anand, who returns to TV after 17 years, Janak. There's Grusha Kapoor as Kaikeyi and Marathi actress Bhargavi Chirmule as Sita's mother Sunaina.
Star Plus' upcoming magnificent mythological drama, Siya Ke Ram has created much buzz with its grand promos.
The talented Ashish Sharma would star as Ram, and newbie Madirakshi Mundle as Siya. For the first time, Triangle Films will narrate the story of Ramayan, from Siya's perspective. Shot in the splendid Ramoji Film Studios in Hyderabad, this show is one to definitely look forward.
Many are wondering will it create the expected magic on the small screen. Hence, we decided to speak to our in-house tarot card reader Munisha Khatwani on whether the series will be a hit or a flop?
She shared, "Siya Ke Ram has got the Card of World which means success. The show will appeal to the viewers and will do very well. The lead, Ashish has got the Card of Lovers which signifies that he will earn lot of appreciation. Madirakshi has got the Card of Three of Pentacles which connotes that she will manage to impress masses."
So what do you think about Siya Ke Ram? Let us know in the comment box below.
Disclaimer: Any content appearing under Star Gazing' section is purely the expert's opinion and TellyChakkar.com does not comply with the same.
Playing the role of the scheming, conniving Kaikeyi who embodies the vamp in our epics, Grusha was a late addition to the cast. She says, "People have always seen Kaikeyi in a purely negative light. But not many know that she was a gifted warrior and educated in political strategy. For the first time, viewers will see different facets to her personality and view her slow transformation from being a loving wife and mother to a vengeful woman who feels that injustice was done to her."
Marathi film and TV actor Bhargavi Chirmule will be seen as Sita's mother Sunaina. "There is so little seen or spoken about Sita's childhood that nobody even knows the name of Sita's mother. It is exciting to play a character, who helped hone Sita into the strong woman of substance that she was," she says.
Returning to acting after 17 long years, Bollywood actor and yoga practitioner Bijay Anand is the apt choice for the role of Sita's wise, learned father Janak. A king who never felt the absence of a son, he treated his adopted daughter Sita as his heir and encouraged her to raise questions and clarify all her doubts. "For Sita to have a point of view and question the wisdom of the wise, it was essential that her parents supported her at every step. Janak was well-versed in the scriptures who believed that education played one of the most important roles in moulding one's personality - a teaching he imparted to his daughter Sita. I feel like this is exactly who I am in reality," he says.
The show, which marks her comeback to TV after many years, sees her as the serene, spiritual and philosophical Sumitra, who soothes all of Dashrath's tensions and worries with her calm demeanour. Sampada says, "The characters of all the three queens of Ayodhya have been well etched-out and viewers will now see a version of Ramayan where every woman has a voice and is truly a woman of substance. The audience will definitely relate to all the characters."
Playing Dashrath's first queen and Ram's mother was not an easy job for Snigdha. Seen in a secondary role in every previous telling of Ramayana, this Kaushalya is a stoic woman who holds a grouse against her husband over a dark secret in their past. Their strained relationship gives Snigdha ample scope to show a different side to the character. The actress, who will be seen in a new avatar, says she loves her regal costumes and jewellery.
The veteran artiste will be seen as Ayodhya's king and Ram's father. He says, "I had thought that the production values of television would be of a lower scale than films, but I was amazed at the detailing and grandeur of the sets and on-location shoots in Darjeeling, Bhutan and Lepakshi. This has been an enriching experience as an actor, and personally, I feel proud to be associated with a show where we are putting forth Sita's point of view. Today's young women will identify with her character."
Newcomer Madirakshi, who plays Sita, says, "Viewers will see her as a strong woman with a mind of her own who was Ram's ardhangini in the true sense of the term."Explaining how he prepared for the role of Ram, Ashish Sharma states, "Ram is known for his strength and valour, while remaining serene and calm under all situations of duress. It has taken me nine months and three different exercise routines to gear up for this part. I have seen a huge change in my mental strength as I focussed on yoga and meditation to keep calm and get into the skin of the character."
Do you recall huddling with your siblings and listening to your grandparents narrating the tale of Ram and how he killed Ravan? And if you are a 90s kid, you will remember that Saturday mornings were reserved for watching the telecast of Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana with your family members completing household chores in a jiffy. In every way or the other and also in every step of life, we often draw reference from the Ramayana.
But ask mythologist-author Devdutt Pattnaik and he will tell you several different stories otherwise. He explained to us that the stories that we've grown up listening to, are Valmiki and Tulsidas's Ramayana. "But there are several other versions of the epic which majority of our population does not know about. Moreover, we are accustomed to seeing the epic from Ram's point of view, not anybody else's," he said on the sidelines of the new television show Siya Ke Ram.
The show aims to break the conventional story and show it through the eyes of Sita. We identify her as Ram's wife but she was also the daughter of king Janak of Mithila. She was born out of the soil and was raised in a kingdom ruled by a learned king. "We want to show her as a daughter first, raised in a kingdom where all the Upanishads were written. So, it was but natural that she was very intelligent but sadly nobody writes about that. In fact, Janak was a very modern king if you think about it. He raised four daughters and never wanted a son " he never cared for the gender of a child, whereas king Dasharatha wanted sons. That is a big difference between the two kings and nobody ever seems to discuss it," he elaborated.
Pattnaik is like a treasure chest of stories " familiar with a number of text of the epic. "None is similar to the other," he said. Drawing the stark difference between the portrayal of Sita in Valmiki and Tulsidas's scripts, he pointed out that while Sita was seen as taking decisions and a stand for herself in the former, Tulsidas, which is 500 years old, rendered her incapable of making any choices and decisions. "Through the show, we are trying to change the perspective of the story, as we know it. For example, there is no mention of the Laxman Rekha in Valmiki's version of the Ramayana which was written 600 years ago. Similarly, you will find something different and new in every text on the epic," shared Pattnaik, one of the creative writers of the show.
When asked about the various versions that he read for the show he confessed, "As many as I could get." But he did share more interesting and unheard stories of Sita. He narrated, "In the Adbhut Ramayan, Sita is seen slaying a 100-head Ravan. Another text narrates an extraordinary story of how well she cooked when she was held captive in Lanka. It was said that she cooked so well that the people there did not want to fight and instead wanted to stay home and eat her delicious food."
We asked him about the story in which Sita is an environmentalist and in love with nature. He confirmed the fact adding that, "She was the daughter of mother Earth so it is a given that she is more closer to nature. She voluntarily accompanied Ram when he was exiled, not because she was his wife, but because she wanted to make life comfortable for him in the forest. Ram was the crown prince of Ayodhya, not accustomed to a life in the wild."
Manpriya SinghRamayana has always been about Ram. And Sita. And Lakshman. And Hanuman. Among all the things that it has been, what it's never been is the story from Sita's perspective; who herself has often been just the epitome of spousal and feminine virtues. In the often quoted rhetoric on women empowerment, how about a look at the mythological saga from Sita's outlook? Star Plus' upcoming mythological series Siya Ke Ram is a look at the epic, as seen from the eyes of Sita. "Ramayana has always and understandably been about Ram. This is a fresh take on the ancient literature and focuses on Sita. We tell the story from her birth, her growing up years, her struggles," shares Madirakshi, getting to play Sita in her television debut. "So every event has been dealt with from her perspective. It was her decision to go and join Ram in exile. She has always been shown to be ideal but it has never been explored or at least depicted as to why and how she became ideal."
Blessed oneAmidst recent reports about the team, scheduled to be Sri Lanka bound to shoot the exterior portions of the kingdom of Ravan, she is only too glad to be associated with big banner and prime time. As someone from the entertainment industry getting stuck with holier than thou image' was never a thought. "It's a role that I couldn't say no to. You just don't." She adds, "Moreover, my parents are so happy. They think I am truly blessed to have been offered such a role. They can't even wait to see me onscreen."This even though, "there was never an intention, but I have always picked up traditional roles," shares the girl from Bhopal, having done a Telugu film.That the umpteen remakes of the original Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana will only ensure the inevitable comparisons with all the former onscreen Sitas is not even a factor. "This one is completely different. It's her story and she is not a part of the story." As for getting into the character, she says, "I read two books on Sita, watched DVD of Ramayana, among other things."Too good to be relevant?She's been ever idolized, quoted for virtues of sacrifice, courage, commitment and purity. The ever sung story of the exile, abduction by Ravana, trial by fire, and the testimony of purity. But how often does respectability translate into relevance in today's times? Sita, she avers, "continues to inspire and be relevant even in today's times. Today's women can learn just as much from her because she was a strong and independent woman. She was responsible which girls even today continue to be." She adds, "We've kept the dresses as light as possible so that people can connect."To go on air from late November
The story of Ram and Sita has been told and retold over generations, but a new TV show, Siya Ke Ram', is set to bring a fresh perspective on Ramayan. The story will be seen from Sita's perspective. The Star Plus show's cast was unveiled at an event at the Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad, on October 28. "When it comes to mythological adaptations, we have always incorporated what is written, and not asked questions.
But with the changing times... the new generation today... are very rational. They want to know the whys' and hows'," said producer-director Nikhil Sinha. IANS
The story of Ram and Sita has been told and retold for generations, but a new TV show, Siya Ke Ram', is set to bring a fresh perspective on Ramayan.
The story will be seen from Sita's perspective. The cast of this show on Star Plus was unveiled at an event at the Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad, on October 28.
Mythological TV shows are not new to the small screen, but the makers of hit TV show "Devon Ke Dev Mahadev" are attempting to take the unbeaten path, which according to the producer-director Nikhil Sinha, is something that will appeal to the today's 'rational' youth.
"When it comes to mythological adaptations, we have always incorporated what is written, and not asked questions. But with the changing times people want their doubts to be answered," said Nikhil Sinha.
Sita's story: Another Ramayan serial on TV from Nov 16 but with different angle
Lucknow | Thursday, Nov 5 2015 IST
Another mythological TV serial on Ramayana on Star Plus will hit the small screens from November 16 but with a different angle showing the side of Sita.
'Maryada Purushottam Siya Ke Ram' serial based on the story of Ramayana written by Tulsidas will show the journey of Ram and Sita and attempt to emulate the popularity of the old Ramanand Sagar Ramayan.
" So far, we have only looked at Ramayan from Maryada Purushottam Ram's perspective.
''But this show will highlight Sita's perspective and their love story," asserted Ashish Sharma, who plays the role of Lord Ram in the serial.
"Lord Ram is always in the heart of the masses of the country and it is required that in every decade a serial on it should be made to apprise the youths about the good things of it," Ashish, in Lucknow to promote the serial, told reporters here. He declined to comment on whether the serial will touch any controversial issues like why Ram left Sita and other things.
Ashish said that the serial would be entire on the tracks of Ramayan but with more focus on Sita.
Doing a mythological serial for the first time, Ashish said that he is yet to start his shooting as presently the child actors are engaged for depicting the childhood of Sita and Ram. " I will start shooting in next one month," he said.
Ashish said that this mythological serial would be different from others, as there would be no jewellery and the actors would dress up simply like it would be have been at that time.
However, the actor said, UP or Ayodhya would not be the place of shooting for the serial and they have selected picturesque locations in Darjeeling, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telengana.
In later stages, they would go to Bhutan and Sri Lanka for shooting some episodes. Madirakshi Mundle would play the role of Sita.
This show, produced by Nikhil Sinha of 'Devo Ke dev Mahadev' fame, will be telecast on weekdays at 2000 hrs.UNI MB RP
South actress Madirakshi Mundle's big break on TV is the upcoming Siya Ke Ram, where she plays Sita. The actress says she is glad the show is being shot in Hyderabad. "That was the icing on the cake for me. I'm originally from Bhopal, but Hyderabad is my second home since I've shot all my films there. I'm very comfortable living in Hyderabad instead of moving to Mumbai. ."
Isn't she afraid about comparisons with actresses who have essayed the role of Sita in the past? "My mother has been my strongest support and she calms me down whenever I feel anxious about these things. Also, we are telling our story in a contemporary manner. My look is very light, unlike the older versions where actresses were all decked up. I'm sure the younger audience will connect with my portrayal more."
Tellychakkar.com was the first to inform readers about Star Plus' upcoming show Siya Ke Ram (Triangle films).
The mytho drama will present Ramayan from Sita's perspective.
As reported by us, Ashish Sharma and Madirakshi Mundle will be seen as Ram and Sita.
Now our sources have informed that Gangaa fame Vedant Sawant has also been signed for the show.
Share a source, "He will be seen enacting the role of the teenage Ram. The actor is currently shooting for the same in Hyderabad."
When contacted, Vedant confirmed the development.
Are you excited for the show? Let us know in the comment section below.
BHOPAL : Sita and Ram have always been an intrinsic part of our culture and their story has influenced civilisations across the globe. However every single interpretation of this tale has been seen as the story of Ram, and Sita hardly finds a mention in these versions. STAR is bringing to its viewers a fresh perspective on Ramayan, Siya Ke Ram where the story will be seen from Sita's perspective. Featuring Madirakshi as Sita and Ashish Sharma as Ram, the show features a stellar supporting cast including veteran actor Dalip Tahhil as Dashrath, Bijay Anand as Janak, Grusha Kapoor as Kaikeyi. The show also stars renowned Marathi actress Bhargavi Chirmule as Sita's mother Sunaina, Snigdha Akolkar as Kaushalya and Sampada Vaze as Sumitra.
Actor Karan who was in the city on Wednesday talking about the show said, "Siya Ke Ram will showcase a hitherto unseen side of Ramayana which will be from Sita's perspective. The show will showcase Sita as a strong woman with a mind of her own who was Ram's ardhangini in the true sense of the word. We want to make her character relatable to every woman of today. I am playing to role of Laxman in the show and I am lucky to have been picked to play this pivotal character.
This show is a big opportunity for me and I would like to express my gratitude to Star Plus for choosing me." "Bhopal is known as the city of lakes and this is my first visit to the city. I am really looking forward to explore lovely tourist destinations like Bharat Bhavan." said Karan about his Bhopal visit. Siya Ke Ram, launches on 16th November, every Monday to Saturday at 8 pm on STAR Plus!
"Women will relate to Sita in more ways than one. She is multi-faceted and a woman of substance. Siya Ke Ram is the story of Sita and Ram as two equally strong individuals and I feel Ramayan is as much as Sita's journey as it is Ram's," says Sharma, his show lending a new dimension to women empowerment. As for him, it was a yes from the beginning. The moment he was offered the show, he was game because mythology as a theme provides a huge reach and range for an actor to enjoy'.
He agrees this is a story almost everyone in India has grown up on. Timeless and engaging, it is an inherent part of the Indian culture. Although this lad from Jaipur has grown up watching Govil play god, Sharma points out the new treatment of the story. "Ram's godly aspect has always overshadowed the manushya avatar', his human side. Our show will journey with Ram from being a warrior prince to Lord Ram."
Conceptualised by Aniruddh Pathak who brought Lord Shiva's legend to television through Mahadev, Siya Ke Ram has been envisioned and created by renowned writers like Anand Neelakantan (author of Asura and Ajaya), Subrat Sinha along with creative consultant Devdutt Pattanaik, the man who has redefined mythology for Indians today.
Sharma, who has made his mark in shows like Gunaahon Ka Devta, Rangrasiya, Chandragupta Maurya, etc and acted in Dibakar Banerjee's Love, Sex Aur Dokha, underwent seven months of training to prep up for this epic saga.
"I had to get more muscular to play a warrior prince, grow my hair, practice martial arts for the action scenes. I even read Tulsidas's Ramayan to understand the Lord more," he adds.
Featuring Madirakshi as Sita, the other actors include Dalip Tahhil as Dashrath, Bijay Anand as Janak, Grusha Kapoor as Kaikeyi and Karan Suchak as Lakshman.
Courtesy his writer father Ashwini Sharma, the actor is a fan of literary works, and feels Ramayan, too, is a piece of literature everyone must know. "If you ask me, I would love to see works like Sharat Chandra Chatterjee's Badi Didi, Munshi Premchand's Nirmala and Phanishwar Nath Renu's Maila Anchal come alive on small screen," says Sharma, who has been writing and directing, too. Recently, he directed 12 episodes of MTV web series, Saturday Night, Alright. "I would love to get behind the scenes, direct and write something that has a strong literary base for I feel people need to reconnect with their roots and literature that comes out of it, but right now, it is Siya Ke Ram," he says.
STAR PLUS BRINGS TO YOU SIYA KE RAM THIS FESTIVE SEASON
Chandigarh, November 3, 2015. (Kulbir Singh Kalsi):-~Ashish Sharma who is playing the role of Rama was in Chandigarh to talk about the show and give the audience an insight into the world of Siya Ke Ram~
Sita-Ram have always been an intrinsic part of our culture and their story has influenced civilizations across the globe. However every single interpretation of this tale has been seen as the story of Ram, and Sita hardly finds a mention in these versions.
STAR Plus has always stood for compelling stories featuring strong, empowered and inspirational women protagonists. Now the channel is bringing to its viewers a fresh perspective on Ramayan, Siya Ke Ram where the story will be seen from Sita's perspective.
Known for his acting prowess across shows like Gunaahon Ka Devta, Rangrasiya, Chandragupta Maurya etc, popular TV actor Ashish Sharma will be seen playing the role of Maryada Purushottam Ram in this epic saga.
Talking about the show Ashish said, "Siya Ke Ram will showcase the Ramayana like never before. This time round, the audience will witness the epic love story of Sita and Ram from Sita's perspective. Sita was a strong women, she was someone who had an opinion which will often come out in the open. Our Sita is relevant to women today who will relate to her in more ways than one. She is multi-faceted and is a woman of substance. Siya Ke Ram is the story of Sita and Ram as two equally strong individuals."
"When one says Chandigarh, I can only remember the yummy food that you can eat here. Other than that, I have heard about the lovely points for sight seeing like the Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake. I am really looking forward to exploring the city and indulging in the Punjabi cuisine." said Ashish about his stay in Chandigarh for the day.
Featuring Madirakshi as Sita and Ashish Sharma as Ram, the show features a stellar supporting cast including veteran actor Dalip Tahhil as Dashrath, Bijay Anand as Janak, Grusha Kapoor as Kaikeyi and Karan Suchak as Lakshman. The show also stars renowned Marathi actress Bhargavi Chirmule as Sita's mother Sunaina, Snigdha Akolkar as Kaushalya and Sampada Vaze as Sumitra.
The show has been conceptualized by Aniruddh Pathak who brought Lord Shiva's legend to TV through Mahadev. Post the mega-success of Mahadev, Triangle Film Company and director Nikhil Sinha continue their successful association with STAR India as the makers of this magnum opus. The story has been envisioned and created by some of the most renowned writers in the country - The best-selling author of Asura and Ajaya, Anand Neelakantan and talented writer Subrat Sinha - along with creative consultant Devdutt Pattanaik- the man who has redefined mythology for Indians today. Art Director Chokas Bharadwaj's eye for detail has ensured that every element of the show truly brings alive the world of Siya Ke Ram. Siya Ke Ram has been shot in various locations across the length and breadth of India which add to the authenticity and grandeur of the show.
Siya Ke Ram starting 16th November 2015 at 8 pm only on STAR Plus!
Who would have believed that visual effects shall go onto become an integral part of shows on the small screen, till a few years ago; but thanks to show creators and visionaries like Triangle Production's Nikhil Sinha this is now a reality.
Having made visually enigmatic shows for various broadcasters in the past like: Devo ke Dev Mahadev(Life OK!), Hatim (Life OK!), Maharakshak Aryan (Zee TV) and Mahavir Hanuman (Colors), Nikhil is now working with the numero uno channel in the GEC (Genral Entertainment Channel) space Star Plus on a magnum opus, which will retell the story of Ramayana through the eyes of Sita in Siya Ke Ram'.
But the only reason that Nikhil has been able to think of such outlandish concepts and ideas to work on is because of the confidence he has in one man, Hardik Gajjar, and his team of creative wizards at Vertex Volt.
The duo of Nikhil Sinha (L) and Hardik Gajjar (R) has given many a hit TV shows for the small screen
Vertex Volt is the brainchild of Nikhil and Hardik, which began operations in early 2011. The idea of setting up the VFX outfit was to help create content which would mesmerise and entertain audiences through rich storytelling without having to bother much about the cost of production or scale.
Speaking exclusively to TheGraphicSlate.com, Nikhil expounds: "Working on Mythological shows is always fun and challenging at the same time. And the freedom of creating a scale, or working on a big scale, and setting larger frames is something that gives me a kick."
Giving further insights into the storyline of Siya Ke Ram' Nikhil reveals that this version has never been told before, as most of the earlier adaptations of Ramayana on the small screen were based on the writings of the Tulsi Das's version of the mythology but for the first time Valmiki's version of the mythology will be seen on the small screen through this show.
But, all this couldn't be possible without a team of experienced researchers to deal with the intricate details of the script and sketching out the characters in a different light. Leading the team of 8 researchers is none other than renowned historian Devdutt Pattnaik, including scholars who has done an in-depth research on Sita for 10 years.
So while all this covers the pre-production side of things, let's get into understanding how Vertex Volt is recreating rather rewriting history with Siya Ke Ram', which will premiere on Star Plus beginning 16 November at 8:00 pm replacing Tu Mera Hero'.
"We began fairly early on the project and worked on the pre-production with the director and the creative heads at the channel. We created numerous sketches, storyboards, character designs and concept arts to see how the eventual product will look and feel," expounds Hardik Gajjar, founder and VFX supervisor at Vertex Volt.
He further adds that after the concept and designs were locked the team began work on various matte paintings for the magnificent looking backgrounds along with the 3D department working in tandem. The series, which is yet to begin, has roughly 15 minutes of CG in every episode and will involve loads of visual effects for creating set extensions; crowd multiplication and entirely 3D rendered shots and compositions to give the perfect desired output. The show currently has almost 80 per cent of the 170 man team at Vertex Volt burning the midnight oil and also requiring an upgraded pipeline to deliver the episodes swiftly.
"The 3D aerial shots were some of the most difficult ones which we have done for this show. The most challenging bit is to make these shots look as photorealistic as possible and leaving the viewers spellbound with mesmerising visuals." he expounds. "But the kind of response that we are getting from the first promo has given us the confidence that we are doing the right things and our work is certainly going to be loved by one and all."
What also allows Vertex Volt to experiment with different things on each of the shows that it has worked on till now is the trust and support that the team receives from Nikhil and the channels.
But, what does Hardik have to say on the comparisons being made between the 3D aerial shots of Baahubali's city of Mahishmati and the ones which were seen in the recently released promos by Star Plus. "We have done such aerial shots earlier as well in our previous shows. So, I personally don't see where the comparison can be made. It had to look realistic and grand, and that was all that we had in mind while creating that shot." he responds.
Further sharing his views on how different is it to work on mythological shows as against daily soaps, Hardik explains: "Mythological shows are associated with the sentiments of the audience which we have to consider and showcase accordingly. Shows like Hatim and now Siya Ke Ram are in a completely different league when considering the level of visual effects involved; while just taking the examples of the ones mentioned above, the former is a sci-fi while the latter is based on mythology and the work involved in both is very different. But yes, we understand the genres and have worked on it earlier as well; so we are comfortable dealing with anything now."
"We believe in raising the bar each and every time to give quality output which a challenge even for us within the given amount of time. We always want to deliver the best VFX for the shows that we work on. So even Siya Ke Ram' is very special for us and the response so far is certainly overwhelming," Hardik ends.
The show has been conceptualised by Aniruddh Pathak, who brought Lord Shiva's legend to TV through Mahadev and has renowned writers of the country like, Anand Neelakantan and Subrat Sinha on board as well.
Apart from the Ramoji City where a major chunk of the show will be shot, The cast and crew of the show will also shoot extensively in Lepakshi (Andhra Pradesh), Bhuj (Gujarat), Darjeeling (West Bengal), Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana-Hyderabad and Mumbai. While the crew will also soon be travelling to Sri Lanka to get shots of Ravan's palace and use them as references for the show going forward.
The show that shall air six days a week - with the channel already having plans of doing over 300 episodes in all - the expectations from all stakeholders would be sky high. And boasting a stellar cast and crew, the show runners are confident of delivering to those expectations.
Bijay Anand, the yoga teacher; (inset): Bijay Anand, the actor in a still from Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha
Bijay Anand, who had a hit in his name with his very first film, chose to shift gears and seek solace in spirituality. He's facing the camera once again after 17 years only because the role is very close to his real persona
Remember the guy who dumps Kajol in Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha? We are talking about Bijay Anand, who had a slight brush with fame when the film turned out to be a blockbuster. But the actor, in spite of being able to jumpstart his Bollywood career on the right note, chose to change tracks. And no, he didn't turn producer or director or even a politician as is the fad. Bijay became a yogi and devoted his life to teaching yoga. But why are we talking about him now? Because he seems to have had a change of heart yet again, after 17 years, to turn back to acting. Bijay will be seen playing the role of Sita's father Janak in the television show Siya Ke Ram that will be launched soon.
Bijay did have to struggle to find fame in the industry but he says when he finally got it, the lure of it all was lost to him. "After Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha became a hit, I was offered 22 films as the main lead. But I just decided to quit the industry because my heart told me to do so. I have seen everything " poverty, struggle and I wanted to be known as an actor. But when I finally got that I realised it has no meaning," Bijay says. It all started when Bijay begun attending yoga conferences. "As my body was stiff, I felt yoga would be of help. When I was 36, I got arthritis and I was also diagnosed with high levels of cholesterol. That's when I discovered Kundalini yoga. If the soul is not happy, the body contracts all kinds of diseases. I realised my stiffness was because of my anger. Once I let it go out of my body, my body became flexible."
His real draw towards yoga came to him through the Sufi character Khidr, a mystical figure who is described in the Quran as a righteous servant of God. "The character is a metaphor for intuition. In one of my yoga sessions, it is through Khidr that realisation dawned on me to stop pursuing acting as a career. I have never questioned my intuition. It was a big decision to make. First of all, you spend so many years to become an actor, you have a silver jubilee hit in your name and then you simply quit the industry!"
Even though many years had passed since he had faced the camera, Bijay found that he could still do it with ease. "When I finally faced the camera for this show, it didn't feel like I was doing it after 17 years, seemed like just 17 minutes. It's in fact easier now, since I understand life better. Earlier I was acting, now I'm being myself on camera. I don't know if I will take up any more projects after this, it all depends on my friend Khidr," he says with a smile.
But why did he choose to return at all? "I'm a yoga teacher now " my dharma and karma is to teach people something important. I realised where I teach is not important, as long as I teach "be it in my class or on screen. Even my character Janak is a teacher. Teaching is in fact reaching out to people. The character is just what I am in life. When Nikhil Sinha (producer) approached me for the show he said to me, you are not an actor playing Janak, you are Janak, which is why I want you. I cannot think of anyone else for the part.' And I agreed."
Having conducted yoga sessions all over India and around the world through his organisation Anahata, Anand opines that the West is more accepting of yoga, while Indians don't value it as much as they should. "The West is so ready for yoga, so hungry for knowledge and philosophy. In the US if you put it on WhatsApp that Bijay Anand is teaching today and we have room for 40 people, 400 people sign up. In India not even 30 people will sign up. Indians think they know all about philosophy by watching Ramayana and Mahabharata on TV. Being born into that culture is all right but you have to make use of that knowledge. Two days ago I gave an interview to Yoga Journal, the biggest yoga magazine in Amsterdam, where I said, Europe is ready for yoga, Europe has seen the money, the maya. They want to be happy now and know that yoga and philosophy is the only way. Indians are busy fighting with their families over property matters but at some point we will have to get out of that trap.'"
These days' actors put in a lot of efforts to get the perfect look for their role in the show. Be it putting on weight or losing, every actor goes to great lengths to get into the skin of the character. Ashish Sharma who is playing the pivotal role of Ram in Siya Ke Ram had to go through the same thing.
Ashish put on a significant amount of his time to get that perfect body for his next role. This is not all the actor also grew his hair to look appropriate for the character. Ashish, who has worked day in and day out for the look ensured that he doesn't go for any social gathering to disclose his new look.
In order to keep his look hidden and under wraps, the actor was also seen maintaining safe distance from social media and ensured not to post any pictures that would reveal his look to his fans. Every time he stepped out, he made sure he had his hair either tied up in a pony or a cap.
"I always take my work seriously hence I ensure that whatever that I do it has been done with perfection. I have been working out on my body to get the perfect look and have also grown my hair for the same. I am very excited about the role and looking forward to the reactions from the audience", commented Ashish Sharma.
Siya Ke Ram, all set to go on air on Star Plus, will narrate the story of Sita and Ram from Siya Ke Ram with a new perspective, that of Sita's. An unusual and a never seen before take on Ramayana, watch Siya Ke Ram from Sita's perspective.
Mumbai: Ashish Sharma, who played a border security force officer in 'Rangrasiya', will now be seen as Lord Ram in the upcoming show, 'Siya Ke Ram'. Ashish reveals that he has worked hard to perfect his portrayal. He says, "For me, the physicality of the character is of utmost importance. I need to stay true to the character I am portraying. With Ram, I thought it was necessary to have a calm face, and it was necessary for me to bring forth those attributes. When we look at Ram, people forget that he was a warrior prince before he became God. Having trained in archery in a gurukul, he is bound to have a strong body language so I have tried to incorporate these aspects in my role."
The telly actor may have won 'Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa', but Ashish says reality shows aren't for him. He says, "I won that show only because of my dancing skills; I was a flop for the reality part of it. I couldn't give them any exciting content."
Has Ashish, who previously featured in Dibakar Banerjee's 'Love Sex Aur Dhokha', found his comfort zone in TV now? He says, "For me, movies, TV and theatre are all the same " I want to explore all mediums. Today the reach of TV is way bigger than cinema. Even top actors in cinema came back to TV for six months of the year " be it Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar or Aamir Khan. When these stars realise the importance of TV, why won't TV actors understand it? I'm not dying to do a film, if I get something exciting I will do it for free because I've made enough money on TV. An anti-hero character would be exciting, something like Ek Villain or Haider."
Ashish Sharma is calm and composed. The excitement over the fact that he is playing Ram in Siya Ke Ram, a mega TV serial from Star Plus is yet to sink in, even though he is only a few weeks away from beginning the shoot. As of now, Ashish Sharma is more popularly known as Rudra from Rangrasiya and for his awesome dance moves in the Jhalak Dikhla Ja show. A student of the Anupam Kher acting institute, Ashish's love for acting brought him to Mumbai, instead of NSD that he thought he would join. "I always had this dream to act, so much so even as a child, I used to take part in Ram Leelas. Guess what role I played? Hanuman! Year after year I played Hanuman; I still don't know why," laughs Ashish as he breaks a part of the Alu Tikki that is served to him on the table. Ashish says he is still unable to come to terms with the fact that his childhood dream of playing Ram in Ram Leela is going to realise. "Ram Leela didn't happen but what a way to see my dreams coming true," says this 'Love, Sex Aur Dhoka' actor. He says his grounded upbringing and belief that he should lead life as set by examples at home have helped him prepare for his role as Ram. The entire cast and crew of Siya ke Ram are presently in Ramoji Film City (RFC) where most of the shooting will take place. The sets are opulent and once inside, it feels like you have been transformed into a real palace. At RFC, the cast was unveiled and the formal announcement of the show was made by the channel head, in the presence of the creative director and the cast. When the role was being discussed with Ashish, the creator of the show was clear that they want "to show Ram as one already perceives through books, posters or calendars. We all have this idea of Ram being a patient person besides being a great archer, a horse-rider and above all a compassionate king. There is more to him than that. He will be slightly different here," he explains.
"In preparing for this role, I needed to have my own long hair, instead of a wig. So for the past seven months, I have been growing my hair, learning combat skills and horse riding and then trying to calm myself down to play the character. To immerse in the character is very important to give a true portrayal of what one is playing on screen," he elaborates. From playing Rudra to Ram has therefore been quite a change for this actor.
What about other projects? Ashish is honest in saying he hasn't looked at any other projects, because, "Siya Ke Ram will leave us with hardly any scope to think of other projects. And I wouldn't want to work on something and not be whole hearted in it either."
After successfully giving a new image to the look of Mahadev', different from what we have seen in calendars, creative head of Star Plus Anirudh Pathak started thinking of narrating the Ramayan in new format once again. "We have seen different dimensions of Ramayan. So what was pending? Then we thought that we haven't heard the Ramayan from Sita's view point. She's not different from Ram. She was with him always and that was her choice. She was a warrior herself and her story was out of compassion and not a compulsion. This Ramayan is racy, technologically upgraded as regards to shoots, camera, sets, locations etc. If we aren't giving them the flavour of Game of Thrones' then there was no point in telling the Ramayan once again," says Anirudh.
Star Plus' new show Siya Ke Ram, unlike the name suggests, is not a take on Ramayan as we know it. It is in fact, the epic through the eyes of Sita. South actress Madiraksi who makes her television debut as Sita on the show, says, "We're not treating it like a mythological show. It's more like a show for the kalyug generation.
I didn't plan to get into television initially, but producer Nikhil Sinha's team chased me for seven months. He convinced me to come for a look test and that's when I realised how big the project is. My father is also a huge fan of mythological shows, so he pushed me for it."
How did she prepare for the role? "I watched Ramayana and read books on Sita."Ashish Sharma of Rangrasiya is part of the show as Ram. Talking about how he came onboard, he says, "I was offered many shows as well as films after Rangrasiya but I chose to television " after taking a four month break. Some filmmakers look at TV actors as sasta jugaad because we already have a fan following.
But I'm not interested in doing a project just because it's a film. When Siya Ke Ram came my way, I decided to do it even if it takes travelling to Hyderabad from Mumbai for one and a half years or however long the show runs. My wife and three puppies miss me terribly."
It is our duty to follow the right path. Do you agree? #SiyaKeRam
A true life partner is the one who will always treat you as an equal! What do you think?#SiyaKeRam
Watch 2 INIFDians together in One Show as Ram & Sita on Star Plus in Siya Ke Ram' go air from 16th November at 8 PM. INIFD Jaipur Student Ashish Sharma as Ram & INIFD Indore Student Madirakshi Mundle as Sita.Wishing both INIFDians a huge success for the show #myinifd#inifdrocks #SiyaKeRam #StarPlus
Now on my way back to Mumbai morning it's Kanpur then lukhnow day after..promotions r more tiring then shootin
Dharti se janmi thi jo, bani woh Janak ki dulaari! #SiyaKeRam, Coming Soon!
Siya ke ram on Nov 16th at 8 pm in Star TV. Don't miss this
Is baar zimmedari badi hai kandho par,maza bhi utna he hai..jald milwaunga naye avatar se..
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