33 years on, what became of the cast of Ramayana?
The main members of the cast of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan—Arun Govil, Deepika Chikhalia, Sunil Lahri and Dara Singh, who played Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, respectively—were treated as living Gods for years after the show ended. But what were their lives like before they stepped into these avatars of deities, and what was it like after?
Govil was a successful actor before Ramayan. He had Bollywood hits such as Sawan Ko Aane Do (1979) and Jiyo to Aise Jiyo (1979) under his belt, and was extremely popular as the sage Vikramaditya in the TV series Vikram Aur Betaal.
After Ramayan, he continued playing Ram in Ramanand Sagar’s Lav Kush, then played more legendary characters, from the Ikshvaku king Raja Harishchandra to Gautam Buddha. In 1992, he also lent his voice, as Ram, to the Indo-Japanese animation film, Ramayan: The Legend of Prince Rama.
And then, in the 1997 film Lav Kush, he played Lakshman to Jeetendra’s Ram. Though he did numerous Telugu, Odia and Bengali films, as well as Hindi TV shows, he is still known as the actor who played Ram.
Chikhalia was just 22, with very few films in her kitty, when she took on the role of Sita. She went on to star in popular TV shows such as Sword of Tipu Sultan (1990), where she played Tipu’s mother, and in various Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada and Bengali films. She reprised her role as Sita in Ramanand Sagar’s Lav Kush. Chikhalia also won an election as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Baroda in 1991 and served as a member of the 10th Lok Sabha.
She made her comeback to films in 2018, and most recently played actor Yami Gautam’s mother in Bala (2019).
Sunil Lahri’s career didn’t really take off after Ramayan, despite how popular he was as Lakshman. After playing the same character in Luv Kush, he went on to do some films and TV series, but none that made a mark. He set up a production company with Govil, but the company didn’t produce anything memorable either. This month, Lahri appeared on the Kapil Sharma sketch comedy show with Govil and Chikhalia to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the launch of Ramayan.
Dara Singh was easily the most successful from among the main cast. A champion wrestler before he became a popular actor, after his unforgettable turn as Hanuman, he joined the BJP in 1998 and served as a member of the Rajya Sabha between 2003 and 2009. His last Hindi film was Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met (2007). He died in 2012.
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