New Delhi: The massive popularity of 'Ramayan' and 'Mahabharat' serials on Doordarshan has prompted the national broadcaster to review the way it picks its entertainment programmes so that people constantly prefer it over private channels, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar has said.
The Union minister said the current process, referred as L1 under which work is allotted to the lowest bidder, of programme selection had "destroyed" quality.
The consequent "low quality content" took Doordarshan (DD) down before it saw a revival of sorts with the rerun of 'Ramayan' and 'Mahabharat' serials.
The public broadcaster decided to re-telecast 'Ramayan' on DD National and 'Mahabharat' on DD Bharati during the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of the novel coronavirus, and both serials have been the most watched programmes.
The two serials based on the Hindu epics of the same names had been massively popular when they were first telecast more than three decades ago as well.
Javadekar said the L1 method of serial selection was "unfortunately" introduced 1990s onwards.
"We want to review this fully. The best serials should be on the national broadcaster. This is our target.... We have decided that we must bring in good (programmes), allow the system to bring good serials and programmes so that people prefer public broadcasters over others," Javadekar told PTI.
"L1 has destroyed... and low quality of our content was the problem which took DD down," he added.
He noted that other old serials being telecast by Doordarshan have also drawn good response.
DD National has been the number one entertainment channel for nearly a month now, he said.
The public broadcaster used to commission projects to producers, and though that would at times entail big budgets, this also brought it huge viewership before private channels left it far behind.
To a question about the coronavirus crisis hitting the media hard and demands to the government made by groups representing the industry, the minister acknowledged that it is facing problems and expressed confidence that it will come out of this soon.
With the announcement of nationwide lockdown, Union minister Javadekar on March 27 had announced to re-telecast Ramayan which gained massive popularity. Soon after that, several other programmes of yesteryear were re-telecast on DD including Mahabharat, Byomkesh Bakshi, Circus, Dekh Bhai Dekh, etc. Recently the popular mythological programme Ramayan ended following which Doordarshan has brought back "Uttar Ramayan".
Also originally aired in the late eighties, the serial was a follow-up to "Ramayan", featuring mostly the same cast.
This show focussed on Rama's coronation, and his children -- the twins Luv and Kush.
While Mayuresh Kshetramade played Luv, Swwapnil Joshi essayed the character of Kush in the show.
"This to me is the most profound character I played to date and it is my first character interestingly. I have very few memories as I was all of 9 then when I played that role but I am all set to remember those good old days of shooting," said Swwapnil.
"I remember I had a great time and everyone on the set, be it Arun (Govil) sir who played Shri Rama, Deepika ji (Chikhalia) who played Sita Maiyaa and Sunil (Lahri) sir who played Lakshman ji took care of me and we all had a great time. We worked as a family back then. Can't wait to relive and see that on the screen," he added.
(With Agency Inputs)