As if there weren’t enough controversies and real life inspirations already on the tube, there’s another one coming up in less than a month. Hawan draws from a bunch of televangelists’ lives and times. And the lead character, Baapji’s mannerisms, body language and manner of addressing the crowd are said to be based on controversial god-man, Asaramji Bapu.
But producer Rajan Shahi doesn’t confirm or deny the buzz. He says, “The show hasn’t even gone on air yet, and speculations have already started making the rounds. I’d suggest people watch the show before making any claims. It’s true that we’ve studied a lot of dharmagurus before sketching Baapji because these are characters that require real-life inspiration. I can’t say anything beyond this. Any similarity is a coincidence.” Ashwini Yardi, head of programming, Colors, Hawan’s broadcaster, seconds the producer and insists that viewers look for realistic themes that entertain them and connect with them at a certain level. “It delves into faith and convictions that go beyond human logic. It’s pegged on the relationship between a believer and a guru. The spiritual environment is only used as a context to narrate our story. We’re not passing judgements or trying to make biopics,” she adds.
Actor Narendra Jha, who was once seen in the title role in the mythological show, Ravan, returns with this show as the aged dharamguru, Baapji. He admits he’s studying a lot of spiritual leaders from the current times, but refuses to take names. “If I name anyone whom I am referring to, because that’s basic research we do while preparing for tough roles like these, people will specifically look for that person in my reel self. And if they don’t find him, they’ll be disappointed,” he reasons.
So, has he been following Asaramji Bapu’s videos, considering his mannerisms and body language seem similar? The actor points out that the biggest difference between his character and Asaramji Bapu is that Baapji is a family man without any evil intentions, “I don’t say Asaramji Bapu is evil. I don’t know him to comment. Nowadays, we don’t even meet people to study them. Their videos on various channels are sufficient. Asaramji has his own followers and his own personality. And you’ll discover Baapji when the show starts.”