COVID-19 -Shah Rukh Khan’s show, Ramayan, other TV classics return

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If you crave to go back to a simpler time where binge-watching TV serials with dysfunctional characters and dark, morbid situations weren’t the norm, then this lockdown in India in the wake of coronavirus spread is proving to be a ripe time for re-runs of classic serials. After nearly 30 decades, Indian homes are now being treated to Hindu mythological epics like ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ on state-owned Doordarshan TV channel. The episodes are rationed out every day.

This time of self-isolation could also be your chance to get acquainted with Shah Rukh Khan and his TV avatar. Before he became a big star in Bollywood, his serial such as ‘Circus’ and ‘Fauji’ was what put Khan on the Bollywood map. As the entertainment industry grapples with the current reality of coronavirus spread propelling cinema halls to shut and film productions to grind to a halt, TV channels are looking at enterprising ways to win back audiences and grab eyeballs. Naturally, running classics that caught the Indian TV viewers’ imagination two or more decades ago is their first stop. Here’s a look at a few widely-adored television serials that are getting a second lease of life in India right now:

On public demand, one of India’s most popular mythological series made a comeback last month as India began to self-isolate in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. Producer BR Chopra’s ‘Mahabharat’ — an epic tale of five royal brothers — which was initially aired from October 1988 to June 1990 and featured actors including Gajendra Chauhan, Praveen Kumar, Arjun, Sameer Chitre and Sanjeev Chitre as the Pandavas made a cracking come back to the small screen in Indian homes. Actor Nitish Bharadwaj played Krishna, while Mukesh Khanna played the senior patriarch Bhishma Pitamah and Punit Issar portrayed the grey villain Duryodhan. Actress Roopa Ganguly played the feisty and dignified Draupadi. The tale of five brothers and their battle for truth. their kingdom and power was hugely popular. While you may find the make-up and acting exaggerated, there’s a lot to love in this epic saga of righteous brothers.

A ‘Ramanand’s Ramayana’, the tale of king Rama and his wife Sita, also made a comeback in India on state-owned channel Doordashan during the time of lockdown in India. The tale of good vs evil king and the power of the truth is highlighted in this mythological series.

On April, Doordarshan channel announced that it will telecast the 1990s hit comedy show ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh’ on the small screen again. Here’s your chance to see a much-younger looking Shekhar Suman display impeccable comic timing. He’s a part of the wacky and zany Diwan family and shows the inter-generational conflicts in the most fun and quirky manner. Any 90s kid would jump up in glee here. It’s also a joy to see actors such as Navin Nischol, Farida Jalal, Bhavana Balsavar, Deven Bhojani, Sushma Seth and Vishal Singh charm us on the small screen. There are no big fights or conflicts here, but the series captures the simplicity of life when you live in a joint family. The innocence on display is thoroughly charming.

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was director Aziz Mirza’s discovery through his hit serial ‘Circus’. After almost 30 years, the series based on the life of a circus member Shekharan (Khan) has made a comeback on Doordarshan. While the premise was simple, its treatment and the earnest acting of Khan elevated the series and gave it long-enduring appeal. His earnestly was heart-warming.

After a decade of the highly successfully family comedy Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, there’s a good chance that this sitcom will make a comeback soon. Recently at Satish Shah’s 65th party, the team hinted at a comeback by saying that good news awaits SVB fans. But it isn’t clear whether it will be a re-run on a TV channel or back on a streaming platform. The chemistry among Ratna Pathak Shah (Maya), her husband and veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, Satish Shah (Indravadan), and Rupali Ganguly (Monisha) was comic gold.

Doordarshan has brought back Bengali detective series ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ starring Rajit Kapur. Directed by Basu Chatterjee, it was the first Hindi series to take on Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s iconic character.