Doordarshan, the national carrier, the pioneer television service of India that took shape as the National Broadcasting Channel in 1982, commenced color TV with the Independence Day the same year. a journey that started as a monopoly, was overtaken in content and variety by a host of television channels in the early 90s with a continued bombardment across the years as more and more channels are being added every year by the plethora of service providers that have brought new, views and reviews of all sorts to the drawing rooms of millions across the country and a reach spread to far corners of the world since.
When one looks back, there are still the fond memories of an era where TV broadcast was actually waited for fervently, watched ardently, and devoured intently, within the constraints of limited timings, minimalcontent and a monopolistic situation. Today there are more than thousand channels available through dish antenna facilitated, digital sound and vision formatted programmes of you-name-it types. Yet Doordarshan still captures the spirit and remains in the ethos of a large chunk of Indians, who fondly wish that many of the programmes of yester years be repeated for old times’ sake when village upon village participated in a joint viewing exercise, exchanged camaraderie and the air was always light and full of bonhomie.
Doordarshan programmes of those times were initial to all – the producers, the people who participated in them and the content was new, simple and entertaining to the audiences across the nation. Be it News, Serials, sponsored items, dance, drama, music, quiz competions, movies in color & black and white; it was absorbing fare. Discussions were hot, debates seemed endless, wagers got struck on the spur of the moment,tears flowed, tummies ached from laughter and so were many other responses and emotions in open display.
The list even for a decade from 1980 is very long, but pondering nostalgically, here are my ten favourites that were also widely popular. One could always make one’s own list ultimately.
1. Hum Log
First soap opera of Doordarshan that aired on 7th July 1984, it was a simple story of various characters of an Indian middle class family of the times, each having their own aspirations and the struggles they faced in daily life. Manohar Shyam Joshi scripted the series and in collaboration with film maker P.KumarVasudev, Hum Log or We People was born and continued for 156 episodes of half an hour each. Noted music director Anil Biswas composed the music and veteran film actor Ashok Kumar like an anchor, introduced the actors, discussed the theme, gave his pithy reflections at the end of each episode. Vinod Nagpal, Joyshree Arora, Rajesh Puri, AbhinavChaturvedi, Seema Bhargav, Divya Seth, Sushma Seth, S.M.aheer are the prominent names that figured in this serial and were later seen in Bollywood films also.
Sony TV bought it from Doordarshan and aired it in 2000, Doordarshan is currently having a sort of re-run with the new name Hum - EkChoteGaon Ki BadiKahani with some new members added in its cast.
After Hum Log was completed, Doordarshan noted the favourable response to continuous episode serials and Buniyaad followed in 1986. A series written by Kamal Saigal that dealt with the Partition of India in 1947 and how it affected the lives in an Indian family faced with the situation, it was directed by famed Bollywood director Ramesh Sippy and Jyoti. The serial boasted of popular TV actors of the day like Kanwaljeet Sandhu, AlokNath, Kruttika Desai and many other Hindi actors in the next decade, which made the character of the serial like a well-scripted Hindi film of the day making it immensely popular.
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3. Malgudi Days ( the TV series)
Malgudi Days were single episodes from the short stories of the world famous Indian author of light and meaningful literature, R.K.Narayan with cartoon caricatures used as a signature in the titles, of world famous cartoonist R.K.Narayan, who was also his brother.This thoroughly entertaining adapted-for-TV series by Kannada actor and director Shankar Nag made in 1986 captured the minds and imagination of millions of viewers across the nation, who saw their day-to-day lives etched out in lighter vein on the small screen. It made them sympathetic souls to a destiny that most middle class families faced with many a travail, commonly shared and sympathized, with the characters in the episodes. Thoroughly entertaining and intelligently portrayed series of episodes!
Almost like a street play played out for the watching onlookers in a road performance, this had dedicated actors who took on roles as different characters, who inhabit a small street in a big city and through their interactions with each other and other players who joined in and out in various episodes, brought out life’s different colors of happy, sad, light, fun, sharing, camaraderie etc. in beautiful thought-provoking displays of character. Many a time joyful, at times tear-jerking, it never had a dull moment because of some brilliant acting and sensitive direction.
DilipDhawan, Rama Vij, Pavan Malhotra, Sangeeta Naik, Avtar Gill were some of the lead role actors who gave life to the serial of different episodes through their excellent acting skills. Directed by Kundan Shah and Saeed Akhtar Mirza, now known names in Bollywood directors’ list, this was an extremely popular, much-awaited serial across the nation.
5. Wagle Ki Duniya
A brilliant take from R.K.Laxman’s daily cartoon in the Times of India newspaper’s front page, this TV series about the ‘common man’ produced by DurgaKhote and directed by Kundan Shah, lived out the lives of the common man through Srinivas Wagle and his family of wife and two sons in their daily routine. Short single episode series that took on a subject and portrayed the trials and tribulations faced by the family in that aspect of life, it was hilarious and also very thought-provoking in eking out comparisons with all that we face even today. Brilliant acting by AnjanSrivastav as wagle and BharatiAchrekar as his wife made it a household favourite and is remembered fondly to this day.
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6. Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi
Translated in English it would mean Life As It Is, it was a through and through comedy routine of half an hour that provoked rib-tickling laughter simply by funny dialogues and comic situations in the lives of Ranjit, his wife Renu and brother-in-law Raja played by ShafiInamdar, SwaroopSampat and Rakesh Bedi respectively, with ace comedian of the time Satish Shah and other well-chosen cast members like Sulabha Arya, Vijay Kashyap made for a crazy, fun-filled entertainer that was hugely popular then and is still now being aired by different private channels based on its popularity. Written by comedy writer Sharad Joshi and directed by Kundan Shah, S. S. Oberoi and Raman Kumar for its very many episodes it would easily classify as an all-time favorite across India for its entertainment value.
7. Flop Show
Even today considered as one of the best in satirical comedy, this Jaspal Bhatti entertainer,first screened in 1991, was a pure laugh fest in terms of the satire about the ills in serious issues like medical bills, the importance given to office meetings, building construction and a host of everyday issues. The presentation in light hearted comedy starting with hilarious credits bordering on the ridiculous with brilliant comic timing in expression and dialogue delivery during the episode, hit the public so hard in the belly till it ached, that things it seems, actually started getting noticed and corrected where possible by respective authorities of the social issues that were raised. A brilliant cast carefully chosen and playing their parts so well, Jaspal Bhatti his wife Savita Bhatti, VivekShauq were principal actors who guided the themes in every episode of this rip roaring comedy.
It is still a popular show that is watched by millions on You Tube. Unfortunately with the sad demise of Jaspal Bhatti in a road accident a few years back brought an end to a satirist who was popular and sought after by the public at large. Otherwise for a man of his talent the small screen could have entertained for many more years to come with his brand of comic fare.
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One of the earliest to air and till today one of the most popular programmes watched by people across the country, more so in the rural areas, this half hour programme of popular Hindi film songs with an anchor presenting them is evergreen in quality and content. Prime time viewing every Fridaywith limited time even today, yet this programme still enjoys popularity amidst a whole lot of private channels belting out all sorts of music twenty-four seven.
Karamchand was a popular Indian detective TV series telecast in the 1980s. It was broadcast on DD National, and was one of India's first detective series. The title character played by noted actor Pankaj Kapur, with his raw carrot eating habitand his dotty assistant Kitty with her sometimes foolish questions and told to shut up, played by Sushmita Mukherjee, caught the audiences’ fancy.Despite their eccentricities, the duo help the police solve cases in their unique style. Famous music director duo Anand-Milind composed the theme music and title track for the series. An engaging who’s dunnit presented in light fashion.
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The one serial that could keep morning shows and the neighbouring roads sparsely populated while it was being aired in 1987-88. Every Sunday, people of all ages from child to grand and grander parents sat to watch this Indian epic directed by RamanandSagarand brilliantly put up by Sagar Cine Arts with ArunGovil and DeepikaChikliya as Ram and Sita, the principal protagonists of the theme. So engrossed were people in this classic that they even accepted ArunGovil and DeepikaChikliya as Ram and Sita in real life and did not allow them as cine actors to come in other roles in their films for some time. The Bhakti was felt everywhere and for the time the serial was played, India actually seemed like regaining its partially lost ethos of Ram Rajya.
Not the only ten
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This is a list of favourites that are not mentioned in order of like or fame achieved, but as a personal top ten. Each could have his or her own top whatever number of favourites. There are very many other favourites that could be listed further but would take up space.The essence is the manner in which people saw Doordarshan (DD).
Not merely because it was the only thing available and the first to arrive on the scene, but because people remember the content even today for the pleasant days when TV did not cut into outings because some serial episodes could get missed or a visit to another’s place meant just to watch TV together, but to have it as a pleasant past time, a friend that always gives the pleasure of nice and easy viewing not thrusting its views on you, and providing you that right dose of news, entertainment and general knowledge while you carried on with your life as usual.