Arun Govil, the man who played the role of Lord Ram in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan which aired for the first time on Doordarshan in the 80s on Saturday lamented that despite his contribution to Indian television, neither any of the state nor central governments over the years has recognised his contribution and given him an award.
चाहे कोई राज्य सरकार हो या केंद्र सरकार, मुझे आज तक किसी सरकार ने कोई सम्मान नहीं दिया है. मैं उत्तर प्रदेश से हूँ, लेकिन उस सरकार ने भी मुझे आज तक कोई सम्मान नहीं दिया. और यहाँ तक कि मैं पचास साल से मुंबई में हूँ, लेकिन महाराष्ट्र की सरकार ने भी कोई सम्मान नहीं दिया. #रामायण https://t.co/C91yuJClMr— Arun Govil (@arungovil12) April 25, 2020
Responding to a Filmfare journalist, Govil said that even though he is from Uttar Pradesh, none of the UP governments have recognised his contribution in cinema. “I have been in Maharashtra since 50 years now but even that state government has not given me any award,” he said. Till 2017, Samajwadi Party leader and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav had started a ‘pension’ programme of Rs 50,000 per month for all Yash Bharati and Padma awardees from Uttar Pradesh. Bollywood entertainers like Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Congress leader and former actor Raj Babbar were amongst the 172 awardees getting the ‘pension’. It was stopped by June 2017 by Yogi Adityanath government.
Congress and Lord Ram
Some netizens pointed out that perhaps Govil was not given any award because he later on campaigned for Congress, a party which has questioned the existence of Lord Ram, the role which made Govil a household name.
@arungovil12 ji after #Ramayana you campaigned for #Congress n had joined them too. For Congress #Ram has no existence neither #shriram is important to them. I think this is THE only reason you never received due honour. https://t.co/0hnzaFV505— Ritu Gupta (@RituDreams) April 25, 2020
However, years before Congress denied existence of Lord Ram in the apex court, there was a time when Congress sought votes in Lord Ram’s name, with none other than Arun Govil from Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan.
In the 1980s, the Congress party did not shy away from exploiting the huge popularity of Ramayana and its stars among the Indians. In an interview in 1988, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that they had enlisted TV actor Arun Govil, popular for playing the character of Lord Ram in the serial, in the Allahabad by-polls elections against VP Singh, who had just resigned from the Congress party over the government’s reluctance to investigate alleged kickbacks in defence contracts such as Bofors deal.
“We were trying to get Arun Govil on our side because VP Singh was trying to get him on his side. However, only after VP Singh said that Arun is not Ram but Raavan, did Govil agree to campaign for the Congress party to oppose this statement by VP Singh,” Azad said. Ahead of 2019 general elections, too, there were reports that Congress might field Govil from Indore.
Ramayan on Doordarshan
Amid the nationwide lockdown announced in a bid to curb the spread of Chinese coronavirus, the public broadcaster Doordarshan brought back Hindu epics, Ramayan and Mahabharat back on the small screen. Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and B R Chopra’s Mahabharat along with other serials from the 80s and 90s made a comeback on Doordarshan as Indians stayed at home to fight coronavirus.