To handle a remake is never easy, as expectations are mighty high. And, if the original happens to be the epic television series, Ramayana - once a phenomenon of Sunday morning TV viewing - a remake is all the more formidable.
However, if the remake comes from the team that created the magic in the first place - the Sagars - the viewers are bound to take notice. This is why the remake of the highly successful 78-episode series created, written, and directed by the legendary Ramanand Sagar from 1987-88 is creating a buzz among TV viewers.
Decidedly, the cast of the new series is feeling the pressure from the public as they are being constantly compared with the original actors. One such is Gagan Malik, who has been chosen by the producer Moti Sagar (Ramanand Sagar's son) to play the role of Lord Ram in the new series that is aired on Zee TV every Sunday.
As we get talking to the Delhi-based actor, who has roots in Punjab, what comes as a pleasant surprise is his clear diction and a fine hold on the Hindi language. This, he says, comes from his stint in theatre and months of practice. Interestingly, it was his Punjabi accent that the makers earlier found was coming in the way for a realistic portrayal of the historical character.
Asked about comparisons with the original onscreen Lord Ram, actor Arun Govil, a humble Gagan says, "What Arunji gave to the character is beyond worth. I can only say that I have put in my best in my performance and research." Gagan is hoping to revive the celluloid magic that, in his own words, is known to bring nation to a halt whenever it was telecast on Doordarshan.
What about being typecast in the godly character like Govil was? "Those were the times when the viewers' only destination was Doordarshan. Today, there are so many options for viewers as well as numerous actors. To be typecast in a role in today's times is not as easy," he opines.
Interestingly, Gagan vows not to play a negative character in the future, following his portrayal of Ram onscreen, much like Govil who is said to have given up smoking and drinking in public during the shooting of the much revered series. Gagan has been a part of television for seven years now, having acted in serials such as Kumkum and Shakuntala, and was last seen in Star Plus' Navya. Gagan, whose mother hails from Ambala, shares that he also featured in a 2010 Punjabi music video, Haje Latha Naio Akhiyan Da Cha, by singer Sunny Saleem.