Ramanand Sagar (29 December 1917 – 12 December 2005) (born Chandramauli Chopra) was an Indian film director. He is most famous for making the Ramayan television series, a 78-part TV adaptation of the ancient Hindu epic of the same name, starring Arun Govil as Lord Ram and Deepika Chikhalia as Sita. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2000.
Ramanand Sagar was born at Asal Guru Ke near Lahore. His great-grandfather, Lala Shankar Das Chopra, migrated from Peshawar to Kashmir. Ramanand was adopted by his childless maternal grandmother and, although his original name was “Chandramauli,” it was changed to “Ramanand” by his adoptive family.Vidhu Vinod Chopra is his half-brother. Sagar worked as a peon, truck cleaner, soap vendor, goldsmith apprentice etc. during the day and studied for his degree at night.
He was a gold medalist in Sanskrit and Persian from the University of Punjab in 1942. He was also editor of newspaper Daily Milap. He wrote many short stories, novels, poems, plays, etc. under names like “Ramanand Chopra”, “Ramanand Bedi” and “Ramanand Kashmiri”. In 1942 when he caught tuberculosis he wrote a subjective column “Diary of a T.B. patient” about his fight. The column was published in series in the magazine Adab-e-Mashriq in Lahore.
In 1932, Sagar started his film career as a clapper boy in a silent film, Raiders of the Rail Road. He then shifted to Bombay in 1949 after India’s partition.
In 1940’s, Ramanand Sagar started out as an assistant stage manager in Prithvi Theatres of Prithviraj Kapoor. Also, directed a few plays under the fatherly guidance of Kapoor.
Along with other films that Sagar himself directed, he wrote the story and screenplay for Raj Kapoor’s superhit Barsaat. He founded the film and television production company known as Sagar Films (Pvt. Ltd.) a.k.a. Sagar Arts in 1950. He produced and directed many successful films. He won the 1960 Filmfare Best Dialogue Award for Paigham which was directed by S. S. Vasan and starred Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala and Raaj Kumar in lead roles. In 1968 he won the Filmfare Best Director Award for Ankhen. Ankhen was a spy-thriller starring Dharmendra and Mala Sinha. It was declared a “block buster” and was amongst the Top 10 Hindi films of the 1960s.
In 1985 Sagar turned towards television. His Sagar Arts began producing serials based on Indian history. His most popular Ramayan aired its first episode on 25 January 1987. The series became instantly popular amongst the Indian massesand won numerous national and international awards and felicitations. His next historical tele-serials Krishna and Luv Kush also received good responses. He made fantasy dramas like Vikram Aur Betaal and Alif Laila.
Based on his experiences of Indo-Pak partition, Sagar published a Hindi-Urdu book Aur Insaan Mar Gaya (English: And Humanity Died) in 1948. The government of India honoured Sagar with the Padma Shri in 2000.