tv & movies

Dipika Chikhlia on Ramayana rerun: I don’t know if people will have the patience for it now

Actor Dipika Chikhlia on playing Sita in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana, the show's rerun on Doordarshan and more.

Following public demand, Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana is going to be re-telecast on Doordarshan, starting March 28.

In this interview with, actor Dipika Chikhlia, who played Sita in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana, reveals how Sita became a part of her life and personality.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Ramayana will be retelecast after 33 years. How do you feel about this development?

I won’t say I am very excited about it because I am not sure how it will feel to see myself again on TV. I was younger and prettier, so I guess it should be a nice feeling.

Ramayana is from simpler times. I don’t know how much of it people will understand or if they will have the patience for it now. Of course, there is a section of the audience which lives by Ramayan. But then there is another section of people who don’t even care to read books anymore. They are just watching things on the internet and googling in this fast-paced world. I am not sure how many people will watch it and imbibe the values of Ramayan. In a way, I am happy that the government has given people a chance to watch it if they want. It is like taking the horse to the water, but it is really up to you to the horse to drink it.

But during the lockdown things have been slow, people at home have time on their hand.

We might emerge as different people when we finally get out. I have been telling my husband and daughters that whatever the situation be, we have to pick up something and learn something out of it. This is a calling for each one of us that we need to reboot and do things differently. We all were just running around, mindlessly attending parties and functions and being stuck to day-to-day work. We did not really get time for any kind of introspection. So, somewhere I feel this was nature’s way to tell us that we need to be mindful. We need to slow down our pace and take care of our inner selves.

Simplistic lifestyle should be adopted. It is definitely going to be a different scenario now.

Have your daughters seen Ramayana? If not, are they going to watch it on TV?

No, they have not seen Ramayana. Both of them are old enough to have watched it already, but they haven’t. Yes, they have told me that they are going to watch it on TV.

How did your life change after Ramayana? Were you able to disconnect from Sita?

People have always called me Sita ji. I am Sita to so many people, so I stopped fighting it. I haven’t really disconnected from Sita. I am still Sita ji (giggles). There have been so many different Ramayanas, but people have always told me that I am Sita and Arun is Ram, so I just go by it. It has been too many years to ask people to stop.

There are so many shows based on Ramayan, but none of them was as successful as Ramanand Sagar’s. Why do you think that happened?

It is because Ramanand Sagar told the story in a very simple manner. Everything else was very pretty. They were very glamorous TV serials. These shows had good production value and good looking cast -everything was beautiful. The essence lied in the story that Ramanand Sagar told. It is like a vintage painting by a renowned artist. That’s the way people remember it. So, it was a given, people compared everything that came with Ramayana. What Ramanand Sagar gave to Ramayana, and what he has given to us as characters can never be forgotten.

In the process, we actors also sacrificed a lot in our lives. None of us have gone and changed our images. We have not gone into reality shows. We did not do Bigg Boss. We did not even do regular TV serials after that. We could have done all that as there were so many offers. But we didn’t want to. People wanted us to break the image. They wanted to pay us so much to do it, but no, we didn’t do it. I guess the simplicity and the morals of our characters stuck to us. I think there was some life in that serial and we live in its shadows even today.

People started feeling that if Sita was there, she must have looked like me. When you read Ramayan, there have been descriptions of Ram and Sita which is very close to how we looked. I am as tall as Arun’s shoulders. That’s how Sita’s height is described in Ramayana, ‘Sita, Ram he hriday tak aati thi’, ‘unki badaami aankhein thi’ (her eyes were almond-shaped). That is how much Ramanand Sagar researched. The regular makers wouldn’t take all that into consideration.

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