About Us Contact Us Help




In Conversation With Shiv Sagar

Ranjani Saigal

Shiv Sagar, the grandson of the great writer and producer Ramanand Sagar , is gold medalist from reputed hotel school Les Roches in Switzerland. He has also completed his MBA from the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. ISB is the first International Business School in India partnering with Kellogg, Wharton and London Business School.

Shiv has experience in managing and marketing of hotels for the Sagar Group in Manali and Haridwar. He was also involved in the production/direction of television shows such as Gurukul on Star Plus Channel. He has participated in IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) shows in Atlanta and Singapore.

Shiv has been actively involved in the non-profit world in India. He was the President of the Net Impact Club at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. He has held charity concerts with top musicians of India for fund raising for government schools and NGO’s. He is the founder of an NGO called PHS – Professionals for Human Security which runs a volunteer program in a government school in Mumbai. He also produced a documentary film titled “City of Dreams” for an NGO called Pratham in Mumbai.

Shiv Sagar was visiting is currently working on a project called Ganga Dham in Haridwar a theme park on 25 acres of land based on the stories from the Ramayana and Shri Krishna. He is visiting different countries to seek investment for this project.

Shiv spoke to Lokvani about the project

It is very interesting to hear about Ganga Dham. What is your motivation for creating a mythological theme park?

 Religious tourism is a very important section of tourism business in India.  In fact within India it accounts for 70% of tourist traffic. Haridwar attracts over 18 million visitors a year.  People come, take a bath in the Ganga and visit temples. But after that there is nothing to do, no place to go.

We felt that there is a need for a place that could attract the younger generation and teach them a little about their heritage and mythology. Theme parks are very popular and thus could become a major tourist attraction. We hope this park will become the “Disneyland” of India. Resorts allied with the theme park can also provide much needed infrastructure that will significantly improve facilities for all tourists who visit Haridwar.

Could you give us some details of your plans for the park?

 It will be based on the TV serials of Ramayana and Sri Krishna, which was produced by my grandfather, Ramanand Sagar. We hope to have hi-tech rides, an animated mythological museum, a "temple city", food courts and a sound and light show. Rides will be associated with themes in the Ramayana. For example we would have a ride that simulates Hanuman’s flight to Lanka.  We have done a good deal of research in this area for our TV serials and we have lot of footage that we can use as part of the theme park.
Construction of the park is due to start later this year. I hope it will be ready by 2007 - in time for the next Kumbh Mela.

Do you think people will really learn anything through this theme park about mythology?

It will certainly perk their interest in these tales. We are sure that this theme park will motivate at least some people to learn more about their heritage.  People asked us the same question when my grandfather was producing the Ramayana serial and its success is a clear indication of what such things can do to perk interest in these ancient tales.

Are investors outside Indian interested in the idea of Ganga Dham?

Very much so. We have already raised nearly 6.5 million. One of our main investors is Alice Coltrane, the wife of legendary Jazz musician John Coltrane.

Considering that it is a theme park based on Hindu mythology, have you faced any opposition to the idea from the current government which runs on a secular platform?

We have not faced any problems. We have the full support of the government of Uttaranchal. They are very keen that this project comes to Haridwar and are providing us with full support. This park is not a religious place; it is a mythological theme park. People of all religions are very interested in Hindu mythology. When we made the TV Serial Ramayan, it was also for the government channel Doordarshan and people questioned the government’s support on similar grounds. The fact remains that the Ramayan was popular not just amongst Hindus but non-Hindus as well. In fact Churches used to reschedule their morning prayers so that it does not clash with the time of the serial which used come at 9:00 am on Sunday morning. To our utter surprise this serial was even popular in Pakistan!

When your grandfather made the Ramayana TV serial, did he have any idea that it will be so popular? What do you think is the secret behind the success?

He did not expect the success. Grandfather is a Ram Bhakta. While his profession was writing and  producing films, every week he used to take part in Ramayan Pat – or reading of the Ramayan. One day he decided that his real purpose in life was to bring Ramayan to the people and that all his work in films and writing was only God’s way of training him to do so. So he decided to do the serial. People had tried to do films based on the Ramayana, but they were not very successful. Grandfather felt that the reason for that was that the run time of films,  three hours was not enough to do justice to the story was that one needed more time to tell the story. He felt a television serial was the right medium.

Our company had produced Vikram-Betal as a TV serial and hence we had experience working in this medium. When he proposed this idea to Doordarshan , there was a lot of opposition. But he was so committed to the project that despite great odds he pushed it through and he was able to make this wonderful tale accessible to so many people.

I think the real secret behind the success of the serial is grandfather’s excellent writing skills. He knows how to tell a story well.

It is a real pleasure talking to the grandson of a legend. Lokvani wishes you the very best of luck in this venture and we hope we can visit Ganga Dham.

Thank you and we will look forward to seeing you and your readers in Haridwar.

To learn more about this project please visit their web site at http://www.sagartv.com and to learn more about their resorts in Haridwar please visit their website at http://sagaresorts.com





Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help