Hanging on an old tale

new avatar Tarun Khanna as Vikram and Badar as Betaal.

In the last few years, Indian filmmakers have made a good success story out of remakes. Be it Don and others, quite a few ‘remade’ films have made it big at the box office. At the same time, there have been flop shows like Umrao Jaan and Ramgopal Verma Ki Sholay as well. But overall the concept of remakes have been well accepted by the Indian audience and it is an interesting thing to see today’s superstars essay roles immortalised by yesteryears’ superstars. It attained levels of healthy competition as well — how could King Khan add his mannerisms to the Don’s role immortalised by the Big B.

 Now, producers are hell-bent on making a success story out of the same concept in the small screen. Unfortunately, there has been mixed reactions to this on the small screen. While Ramayan has been a big success story even in the new avatar, Seeta Aur Geeta and Kahani Hamarey Mahabharat Key have not really been able to measure up to expectations. But of late, another success story that has been developing on Colors every Sunday morning is Kahaniyan Vikram Aur Betaal Ki (The story of King Vikramaditya and the ghost Betaal, is based on Betaal Pachisi written nearly 2,500 years ago by Mahakavi Somdev Bhatt).
 Does the name ring a bell for you? Does it take you back to the black and white Doordarshan days? If it does, you were also part of the gang that grew up in the 80s watching Vikram Aur Betaal. With Arun Govil and Sajjan Kumar playing Vikram and Betaal respectively, the show was a runaway hit. Almost 20 years later, Sagar Brothers (they were the original producers as well) decided to have a remake of the show. And they hit gold instantly.

 Two remakes of their earlier serials — Ramayan and Vikram Aur Betaal has brought them back into the list of most important production houses in the television industry. In the new version, Tarun Khanna and Badar are playing Vikram and Betaal respectively and seem to have been accepted by the audience. “I was invited to the auditions by G L Saini, the writer of this show. Saini and I did our acting course in National School of Drama together. After I got selected, I immediately agreed to the role. I was a great fan of the earlier version of Vikram Aur Betaal and I thought this was a great opportunity for me,” says Badar.
 Tarun Khanna, however, was very apprehensive about taking up the role. “I think I look very urban, I’m not a traditional person in real life and have never done such a role. So I was very uncertain about this role. But I agreed without having much hope from it. Only after the first few episodes did I realise that it had become a big hit.” Khanna also admits that he saw the older version only after getting selected. “I went through the entire series just to ensure that I was on the right track,” says Khanna.
 Badar gets a bit nostalgic while talking about the serial. “I hail from a small village near Kanpur and television was not very popular there. We used to watch shows at our neighbour’s place and I remember stories from the earlier show. We were all very fond of the message it conveyed and felt that somehow, it would help us become a good individual.”

 The actor remembers a particular incident when he learnt from the serial that speaking the truth was very important. “So, after I went home, I confessed to my father that I was watching the show at our neighbour’s place. I was beaten up badly by him as a result, television was so unpopular there,” says Badar, who tried to watch every episode in the 80s.
The actor does his stunts himself and has been developing himself as an actor with each passing episode. “I am enjoying the attention as well! The other day a group of kids recognised me though I was not in my makeup. It felt nice,” says Badar.
 Initially, it was decided that Vikram would be given a modern look with short hair and a moustache. But later on, the decision changed after some feedback from surveys and the old Vikram’s look was restored. “But the language you will hear in the serial is the modern Hindi dialect. The producers decided not to rely on ancient Hindi,” informs Khanna.

 Since the serial is being remade two decades after the original, obviously the technological changes are worth noticing. The special effects are better, the sets have improved and so has the script. The serial, in line with other Sagar Arts productions, is being shot in Baroda.

Considering the TRPs it is gaining and the way it is being accepted by the audience, Vikram Aur Betaal may create history as one of the most popular kids serial as well!
Watch ‘Kahaniyan Vikram Aur Betaal Ki’ every Sunday on Colors at 11 am.

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