Birthday Special: Dr. Ramanand Sagar Zinhone Ramayan Mein Logo Ka Utsaah Phir Badaaya…. Ali Peter John
Some sixty years ago hundreds and thousands of men, women and children were caught in the most burning, dangerous, difficult, desperate and delicate cross road of their lives – Ali Peter John
One country, Hindustan was broken, battered and cracked into two. Hindustan was divided into India and Pakistan after thousands of lives were lost and thousands of rivers of blood went down the drains in different corners even as the wily and wicked politicians and leaders of various parties, religions and sections played their dirty games to find a place in the blood-stained pages of history which was in the making. Caravans of people walked, travelled by trains like scared cattle not sure of what awaited them as they slowly moved towards an uncertain future. There were people from what was now known as Pakistan who were finding their way into what was now called India and there were Indians who were trying to reach Pakistan. They had made their choice and had to pay a price, some of them very heavy prices and many even paying with their own lives and the lives of their own near and dear ones. There were times when human beings had turned into carnivorous beasts and only the brave and the blessed ones survived to tell their stories.
A man called Ramanand Chopra and his wife with their children from the other side were among the fortunate few who reached India and found refuge in Bombay, the place which was considered a place of opportunities, a heaven where there was still hope to see dreams and fulfill them. Chopra like most refugees had no home, no friends and no money, a refugee in such of refuge, a place to keep his family safe in times of great disturbances. One morning Ramanand Chopra walked to the Juhu Beach, faced the ocean (Sagar) and talked to it. He told the ocean he was all alone and helpless in the city he knew nothing about. He surrendered himself to the Sagar (Ocean), when he felt one single wave coming up to him and surrounding him politely and lovingly. Sagar saw it as the Sagar’s (Ocean) way of welcoming him, embracing him and promising to make him succeed in the city. He came back inspired and changed his name from Ramanand Chopra to Ramanand Sagar, the son of the Sagar and the Sagar (Ocean) reciprocated his respect for it and blessed him with the kind of success he could never imagine, the kind of success it had anointed very few people with. It never left him or let him down in the most troubled times of his life.
Ramanad Sagar had already become a popular name in literary circles because his novel, ‘Aur Insaan Mar Gaya’ which was the bitter truth about the holocaust of partition and how it had turned simple human beings into the most heinous kind of creatures who committed the most devilish and hideous acts. The novel opened the eyes of the nation and the world because the novel was translated into every major language in the world. He had also written “Ek TB Patient Ki Diary”, the story of his battle against the killer disease which he overcame. It was these two books and several short stories that gave Ramanand Sagar a place among the most important writers both in the literary world and among people in every respectable place. He was praised as a writer with a sensitive mind which could move and turn and change the minds of people. The refugee was no longer a refugee. He soon found a home. He had children who were sent to the best English schools, four sons, and a daughter, all of them bright children.
But life in a city like Bombay meant heavy expenses. He knew he would have to make more money which could not come from writing great books, short stories and masterpieces. Good money, he realized could come only from films. Some of his friends who were good writers had already realized the importance of writing for films. He first wrote the script for a film called “Mehmaan” which had not worked but he did not give up the will to work harder. He wrote scripts for other films made by Gemini, the well known banner from the south. He wrote films like ‘Ghunghat’ and ‘Zindagi’ which turned out to be very big hits. He then wrote ‘Barsaat’ for Raj Kapoor, who was taking his first few steps as a film maker. The film and its unprecedented success gave both Raj Kapoor and Sagar new bright halos of glory.
Sagar’s ambitions took wings. He decided to aim higher and it was this decision that led him to found Sagar Art Corporation, his own film making company. It was not so easy but his will power helped him to surmount all the problems that came in his way. The result was some of the most successful films, films like ‘Aankhen’, ‘Aarzoo’, ‘Geet’, ‘Charas’, ‘Baghawat’, ‘Jalte Badan’, and ‘Romance’ among others. It was these films that gave Sagar Arts a name which meant big business, big money, a name to respect a company everyone wanted to be associated with.
For reasons best known only to forces that refuse to divulge the reasons why Sagar Arts faced a low period during the late eighties, but fortune or call it fate and the Sagar (Ocean) was not going to let down their favorite son and face difficult times for long. Otherwise, why should Ramanand Sagar, the maker of blockbuster which blazed the big screen suddenly think of the small screen, television which was still in its formative stages? Sagar found the guidance from some unknown power to make “Ramayan”, the epic as a TV serial. He was an authority on the subject but he had other forces to guide him and make “Ramayan” which his contemporaries found a very difficult step taken by an established film maker like him. It was only Sagar and his enlightenment and foresight that led him to make the serial. The result was a divine revolution all over the country which turned Sagar into a sage of modern times. The serial was dubbed into every major Indian language and travelled to far away countries, even in Communist countries where they never believed in fables like the “Ramayan”, even in places like China and Russia. The serial had a strong impact on every aspect and area of life in the country, even the political life, with Sita (Deepika Chikalia) and Rawan (Arvind Trivedi) even elected to Parliament just because of their popularity in the serial. Sagar was literally worshipped and treated like a saint wherever he went and was present. He followed the success of “Ramayan” with the katha of “Shri Krishna” which followed the same pattern of success like “Ramayan” and Sagar did not find the time to even think of making feature films. Sagar who was now growing older (but not his spirit) let his sons take over and the sons continued the good work he had started.
But Sagar who was always called “the youngest man in the family” and who lived life to the full, even drove his own car till he was eighty, suddenly fell ill. He was a victim to an aliment no doctor and no prayers could find a cure for. The unexpected happened and Sagar died. And with his death there was talk in the darker areas of the industry where they talked about the end of the empire Sagar had built but again something unexpected happened. His death added fuel to the fires in the hearts of his sons. They saw to it that the Sagar Empire continued to flourish. His sons, grandsons and even grand daughters are tying their very best to keep the empire Sagar built stand in all its glory. Unfortunately, for the soothsayers who predicted doomsday I must tell them what each of the Sagar is doing to keep the Sagar flowing and the way they are flowing there is no danger to the Sagar Empire built on foundations of his own inner power, even divine power.
SUBHASH SAGAR who died two years ago. He was Sagar’s eldest son. He was the man who was known as the master of the business the Sagar Empire was involved in. He was a producer of some of the films he produced for his brothers to direct. He started “Sagar Manali”, a five-star in Himachal Pradesh. He was also the brain behind the sprawling Sagar Studio in Baroda which is a film city of its own where entire films and serials can be shot and completed. If has all the facilities, all the most modern equipment, all the sets built and ready. It also houses the Sagar Acting Academy which prepares students as actors to work in all the various serials made by the Sagars and even others. Subhash proved to be the ideal son of his father and was considered ‘the boss’ by all his brothers and the entire Sagar family – till he died.
SHANTI SAGAR: He was an active part of the Sagar Empire but was fiercely independent and wanted to be on his own. He started his own production company way back in the eighties. He made films with a difference like ‘Prem Parbat’ and ‘Daraar’. His first big attempt at making a commercial Hindi film, directed by Prakash Mehra with Vinod Khanna and Randhir Kapoor disappointed him and he changed tracks and went into the construction business but he still hopes to make a comeback in films but only at the right time.
ANAND SAGAR: He is the only full-fledged director in the family who started as his father’s associate and branched out as a director on his own and directed films like ‘Ram Bharose’, ‘Armaan’, “Hamrahi’ and ‘Baadal’. He then joined his father in the making of all his mega serials. Anand is now the creative head of all that happens at Sagar Arts.
PREM SAGAR: He is a gold medalist in Cinematography from the FTII. He has degrees and diplomas and certificates of acclaim from institutions in different parts of the world. He was the cinematographer of all the films made under the banner of Sagar Arts till he met with a near fatal accident while shooting. He was not going to be able to go back to his first love, cinematography. He directed his first film, ‘Ham Tere Asshique Hai’. He moved on to make TV serials like “Vikram Betaal” which is still considered a land mark in Indian TV. Prem, today is the man behind the marketing of all the serials made by Sagar Arts. He is a one man institution who has taken serials like “Ramayan” and “Shri Krishna” all over the world. He is a great patron and lover of all the fine arts, a man who has inherited a lot of his father’s tastes and traits.
MOTI SAGAR: He is the writer in the family and has written most of the films directed by his brother, Anand and all the serials being made now by the Sagars. As I write, I get the shock of my life to know that Moti and his family have left the joint family Sagar had built with so much love, to build his own empire with his daughter as his partner. The reason for his going away from the family is a matter that saddens me, but what can be done when a man takes his decision all for his own personal reasons?
The third generation of the Sagars is also into films and television seriously.
JYOTI SAGAR: He is the son of Subhash Sagar. He started with the hotel business when he set up “Sagar Manali”, the five-star hotel in Manali. He has now come-back to films and television and is a self trained specialist in graphics and special effects who does some extra ordinary work which even trained experts cannot.
SHIV SAGAR: He is the son of Prem Sagar. He has done a course in Hotel Management from one of the best institutes in the world but he is now looking after various departments of film making and television. And he is even directing “Shanidev” which has been a very big success on television.
AMRIT SAGAR: He is the son of Moti Sagar who has been trained at the California College of Arts and Films. He directed his first film, ‘71’ which won the national award for the best film in Hindi. It was a bold attempt make by a man hardly in his twenties.
AKASH SAGAR: He is the child prodigy in the family, who scored the music of ‘71’ when he was just sixteen.
SHAKTI SAGAR: He is the son of Anand Sagar who has studied in one of the best film schools of the world. He assisted Sanjay Leela Bhansali during the making of ‘Black’ and was the co-director of ‘71’.
Prem Sagar’s elder daughter, Shabnam is a renowned interior designer and his younger daughter, Ganga one of the best known young painters who has shown signs of growing into a master and there are many other grand children of Sagar who started his empire sixty years ago who are all waiting for their chance to shine in the sun and bring all the honor and glory they can to keep the Sagar flowing on and on and there is nothing to stop them. Aur Sagar Behta Rahega.
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