First of all, I do claim the historicity of these two great stories. When asked about miracle stories and all, my only answer is we as a human and more precisely, the Indians have always been loving imaginations. There happened to be a great philosopher in 12th century Saint Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj (yes my mom named me after him). He was a historic figure. But the rumour that he drove a wall is still alive as of now. See this is how miraculous events are inserted in historic sages, making the entire story unbelievable. So our only job is to logically accept the events happened by erasing all the miraculous and unscientific portions.
Coming to the point, Ramayan versus Mahabharat. As stories, they’re the best literatures ever written. Still, Mahabharat stands a little higher as it is more complex, having more grey characters with darker stories and gives a religious stronghold of Bhagwad Geeta. Thus, as an epic, Mahabharat is a bit greater than Ramayan.
Now comparing the legendary and record breaking TV serials by Doordarshan. These serials were first aired in 1987-1990 (collectively). Roads used to be empty on every Sunday afternoon, buses wouldn’t leave the stations unless the episode ends. These were re-telecasted on Doordarshan and DD Bharati in this period of lockdown. I watched them both, without missing a single episode. While Ramayan managed to break all worldwide records surpassing Game of Thrones, Mahabharat also scored a good amout of TRP but couldn’t break records. A lot of my relatives and friends watched Ramayan with all their devotion and interest but could barely even understand the story of Mahabharat. Not only that but this Mahabharat directed by B R Chopra was telecasted several times after 1989 on different channels, is also a reason why Mahabharat scored less TRP.
Comparing the direction of the story, which is a big factor why Mahabharat wins, is obviously better in case of Mahabharat. In Ramayan, the focus is on only few characters, while Mahabharat justified every character by giving them apt screentime and dialogues. In 78 episodes, Ramayan was completed and the story was evenly spread over the series. Mahabharat contained 94 episodes and the story, not just evenly but was appropriately completed considering all the pre-post aspects. Cinematography and camera angles are better in Mahabharat while background music was better in Ramayan. Important scenes were very good in both the serials such as abduction of Seeta and Cheerharan (Sexual Harrasment) of Draupadi.
In case of acting by prominent characters, Ramayan is again less scoring. While Arun Govil and Sunil Lehri portrayed Shri Ram and Lakshman too good, Sita’s acting was an absolute disaster, which was hidden by the actor Deepika’s perfect Seeta look alike face. Ravan played by Arvind Trivedi was the best. Swapnil and Mayuresh played Kush and Lav and they did a very good job. Bharat played by Sanjay Jog was also close to perfect. Hanuman played by Dara Singh was average. Rest all characters were loose.
In Mahabharat, there are a lot of characters, at least 100 and all of them being prominent. The best portrayal was by Nitish Bhardwaj who played the role of Krishna. Second best being Bheeshm played by Mukesh Khanna. Third best were Duryodhan played by Puneet Issar and Karna played by Pankaj Dheer. Arjun played by Feroz Khan, Kunti played by Nazneen, Bheem played by Praveen Kumar, Draupadi played by Roopa Ganguly and many to list more, were very good. The only prominent character over acted was Shakuni, played by Gufi Paintal.
Music is the only case where Ramayan is much better than Mahabharat. Very good use of music at war scenes. While title tracks of both the serials are unmatchable, Ramayan gives more music in between as well.
Talking about special effects and technicality of war scenes, both serials are very poor, still Mahabharat was better. There were a lot elephants and cavalry in Mahabharat war than Ramayan war. The war sequences were also better.
Overall, the result is not hidden. Mahabharat is a clear winner in this case. Ramayan still remains much entertaining and engaging show though
Dnyanesh Make “The DPM”