Back Story: Why Chanakya Was Rejected By Doordarshan?

Chanakya
Courtesy: Odisha Diary

The government is bringing back old shows that played on Doordarshan back to keep the people entertained during the 21-day lockdown period. One of the shows that are making a comeback, Chanakya, was first rejected by the channel.

The 46 part epic television series based on 4th-century economist Chanakya was first broadcasted on 8th September 1991. The show created by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, ran for a year and in a short span became one of the popular shows aired by the national broadcasting channel Doordarshan. As the show comes back for a rerun, it is to be noted that Doordarshan had first rejected the show.

Why Did Doordarshan Reject the Show?

Dwivedi first pitched the show in the mid-80s. The first response by the channel baffled Dwivedi. Despite liking his writing, the channel turned down the show as it did not fit into the scheme of things for them. Dwivedi would not take it for a no as the channel had a similar historical show like ‘Tipu Sultan’ that was broadcasted. Frustrated and disappointed with the channel’s decision, Dwivedi began writing a 20-page letter pointing out the channel’s flawed decision point by point. Eventually, the channel agreed and asked him to send another proposal. By the time, in 1986-87, many producers were willing to produce the show.

Chanakya
Courtesy: Odisha Diary

In 1988, Dwivedi made the pilot of the show which received approval from the channel. He says, if it had not been for the long letters, he would not have had the attention of the government officials.

For Dwivedi, it was a chance to prove his mettle as a director. As a theatre writer and actor, he always aspired to be in films and a show like Chanakya would give him the platform, he thought. It is also ironic that Dwivedi hadn’t had a television until he purchases one after making the show. The show was criticized for its religious and political bias that hurt Dwivedi. He jokingly admits that had it not been for the limited intelligentsia of the country, the show would not have run for as long as it did.

The show has made its comeback and is getting telecasted at 10 PM on DD National.