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Review: ‘Siya Ke Raam’ Unfolds Sita’s Version Of the Ramayan

New TV show ‘Siya Ke Raam’ takes a fresh look at the ancient saga Ramayan, this time from Sita’s perspective.

Updated
Entertainment
4 min read
<i>Siya Ke Raam</i>: A retelling  of the <i>Ramayana</i> from Sita’s perspective (Photo: YouTube/STAR Plus)

Ramayan, the beloved Hindu mythological text, is a treasure trove of righteous teachings about dharma and duty, packed with drama galore. It’s no surprise that this saga has been told thrice on Indian television already, thanks to Ramanand Sagar. We’ve all grown up watching lord Ram’s perspective, but times have changed and audiences now want a new angle. Popular Hindi GEC Star Plus has recreated the saga, but this time from Sita’s perspective, in its brand new show titled Maryada Purshottam Siya Ke Raam.

A Fresh Perspective

It is indeed time to reinterpret the Ramayan, given that the youth today is not into mythology and religion in all seriousness. Young viewers don’t take a viewpoint lying down anymore either. Today, a teenager would argue, and rightly so, if it was even correct on Ram’s part to banish his wife in the first place, based solely on the words of a stranger. New thought also demands for Ravaan to be seen in a new light. After all, despite abducting Sita, he did treat her with great dignity and respect, which quite frankly Ram didn’t. Surpanakha is not seen as an evil character anymore. She is in fact compared to the modern Indian woman who is articulate and intelligent. Last but not the least, feminist thinkers and women in general today, demand an answer as to why Sita was asked to undergo a chastity test, and not Ram. Perhaps it’s time to hear Sita’s side of the story.

Siya Ke Raam presents a refreshing change. Director Nikhil Sinha, who previously made Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, a mythological TV soap that had a phenomenal fan following, is the man behind Siya Ke Raam. Immensely popular Indian author Devdutt Patnaik is the guardian consultant on the show, as he was on Devon Ke Dev. Anand Neelkanthan, the author of Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished, is the creator of this brand new version of the Ramayan.

The Show

Sita is portrayed as an intelligent and perceptive girl who dares to ask questions, politely but confidently. In one scene, she asks her soon to be appointed guru Gautam Maharishi, that if the purpose of education is to tame our anger, then why did he curse his own wife Ahalya? In this show, Sita is depicted not merely as a reflection of Ram, but as a strong woman in her own right.

We’ve always known her to be the obedient wife who follows Ram not only into a life of banishment but also jumps into a pit of fire to prove her purity, without the slightest hesitation. But what about love? For Ram, there was nothing more important than duty. But why was his duty as a husband never as important as his righteousness for worldly affairs?

The first episode lives up to the challenge quite frankly. The dialogues and screenplay don’t just adhere to the story we all know so well, but also resonate with contemporary society and politics. In doing that it becomes fairly thought provoking for the audience. For example, Janak, the king of Mithila is ready to renounce the throne if he fails to deliver and ensure the well being of his people. Isn’t that a question being asked of every government nowadays? As a child Ram is sensitive and sharp. He grows up to be a leader who believes in taking action.

The grand scale of production and the elaborate costumes add the required epic-ness to the story. Impressive sets evoke awe, wonder and magic. The scene where a plough made of gold is being crafted, is especially fascinating. The show’s cast is pretty bang on too with Bijay Anand, Dalip Tahil, Grusha Kapoor and many other talented actors putting together an entertaining drama.

The show’s attention to detail, research and authenticity is also very impressive. For example, a Maithili folk song plays when the drought in Mithila ends, and a touch of the local dialect makes the tune melodious and real.

Personally, I wish the dialogues were in simple Hindi or even Hindustani, but that would take away from the show’s character of course. But at the end of the day, the audience still needs drama. So I wish for Kaikeyi, who is at the moment a wise and sensible queen, to quickly fall prey to Manthra’s devious plotting. After all, in the absence of the delightfully wicked Shakuni mama of Mahabharat, she is our only hope. The show shouldn’t be a righteous sermon devoid of all spice and excitement. So far, all is well.

The show certainly is brave in its attempt to challenge Ramanand Sagar’s 1980 TV drama, that was aired on Doordarshan and enjoyed a cult following. But back then, there was no competition. No wonder it was a huge hit. Roads would be empty on Sundays and people actually believed that Arun Govil was lord Ram reincarnated. Siya Ke Raam definitely shows promise and who doesn’t like a fresh take on things. Let’s wait and hope that this one doesn’t turn into a typical TV soap.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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