When the Idiot Box turned Intelligent
I can't recollect when I was introduced to the idiot box or which was the first program that I saw on the TV but soon I realized that I had got hooked to the small screen and was addicted to it. I think this is true for any sort of addiction; the realization comes much later to its inception. TV entered our drawing rooms much later than it did for my friends, as my parents being strict disciplinarians considered TV to be cause for distraction to my studies. It was a big no-no but to my surprise later it had been my parents who had insisted on me watching a particular program on the TV, may be it was this time when the idiot box lost some of its idiocy and turned a new leaf to become a bit intelligent.
My memories trace back to the days of Doordarshan and a few years later to DD Metro, although the cable wire did come in the late 80s but had not spread like an epidemic, at least it did not enter our house. Our TV got plugged to the cable much later, during some Football WorldCup matches as it was telecasted only in StarSports or some other cable channel. So my list would be a recollection of some beautiful programs that were telecasted on Doordarshan that laid the foundation for the new genre of programs that we see today.
It was sometime in early 80s a new variation of TV program started to play by the name of HumLog and in few episodes time became a craze and a talk of the nation. The characters came live and entered the hearts of millions straight out of the small screen. Nanhe, Chhutki, Barki, Lallu, Dadaji, Basesar Ram became household names. I think the concept of a tele serial came into existence with this. A program that dealt with the lives of common man their daily problems, their smiles and sorrows slowly spread to its viewers. I couldn't frequent these episodes as TV came to my house later, but would always take a glimpse of the episodes whenever I could at my neighbours. This serial brought in wonderful actors like Sushma Seth, Vinod Nagpal, Abhinav Chaturvedi, and others to lime light. During the same time another tele serial created waves all over mainly in the upper middle class, it was Khandaan, a serial that brought to light the lives and its complexities of the upper class and their society. A very famous face on today’s television rose to heights from this serial, Neena Gupta. There were host of other actors who put in their best.
But I think it was with Buniyaad that I got hooked to the TV serials. A saga of a family during the partition days and their lives henceforth created a massive wave among the people. Famous actors of today like Alok Nath, Anita Kanwar, Kanwaljit Singh, Majhar Khan, Kiran Juneja all rose to fame from this. How I miss my favorite Lajjoji. Although the serial did drag a bit at its end but anyways it was my choice of program during those days.
Ek ladki hai naam Rajani hai – was another of my favorite programs. A program of a common woman’s fights against injustice, rotten system and society. Rajani had become a favorite character within every household. Priya Tendulkar had become so wrapped up within the character of Rajani that even years later whenever her mention would come it would be Rajani and not Priya T.
Chunauti - a serial on college campus, students and teachers. I feel this brought the youth, the college goer’s back to home to watch TV. Pirincipal Shastri became the most envied, admired and respected professor. In those days I had wished that my college, professors and students would match to this but my dreams were shattered when I actually happened to be in college. Mohan Bhandari, Rajiv Verma, Ajit Vachhani, Channa Ruparel, Archana Joglekar, Suchitra Krishnamurthy, Rita Bhaduri are a few names who made their appearances in the episodes. In the years that followed many other serials dealing with college or school children were made and telecasted but somehow this will always remain a valued one. Moving on the similar line but with a cause was another serial that was telecasted later - Subah starring Salim Ghouse. This serial brought to front the drug abuse that had made inroads to the college campuses and its adverse effects in the lives of the students and their families.
Udaan - a story of a woman fighting to build her career in police. It was a televised narration of the live of India’s women IPS officers. Kiran Bedi had always been a special icon in my life so this serial became my favorite. Kavita Chaudhary and Shekhar Kapoor played the main characters.
Lifeline - whenever I watch Sanjivani now a days, it reminds me of this wonderful serial made on the lives of a few doctors and a hospital. Lifeline had created the platform for all the serials on medical fraternity but none that followed could actually attain the heights that Lifeline achieved. Excellent performances from A K Hangal, Pankaj Kapoor, Tanvi Azmi and a host of other actors. The actors enacted out the emotions, attachments and sense of duty of the doctors to best abilities. I can still remember the episode where Pankaj Kapoor a new incumbent took over the responsibilities from the A K Hangal the veteran. Many other serials have used the title tracks similar to that of Lifeline but the Heart Beat sound of the Lifeline track still echoes deep within.
There have been many other wonderful serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Nukkad the Street Corner, Ghar Jamai that brought smiles back to lives of many but in the string was a very interesting serial made on the life of Mr Wagle, yes I am talking of Wagle ki Duniya, which I loved watching. Even today I recognize Anjan Srivastav and Bharati Achrekar as Mr and Mrs. Wagle.
While penning down this review I recollected watching many other serials that had not created a mass impact but as a serial they were good and I liked watching them but unfortunately can’t remember the names. One such serial had Girish Karnad as the father, Firdaus Dadi, a very common face in today’s TV as the daughter and Farida Jajal as the governess. The story was on the issues of child adoption and the complexities of emotions that rise within the family as a result. Another serial most probably the name was Purvayeeyan or Purvaayi, was a story of an NRI who decides to come back to his hometown in India with his family and settle here in his joint family. The differences in mentalities and culture were the main theme of this serial. Granddaughter of Sai Paranjpayee played a character. Another very interesting serial Lal Deewarein Panchpan Khambe or Panchpan khambe Laal Deewarein starring Mita Vashisht and Aman Verma. Fauji and Circus were two serials that saw MS favorite SRK make big on the larger screen.
Mouthful of Sky - most probably was the first English serial to be telecasted starring Milind Soman and Rahul Bose was also my favorite.
Meri Awaaz Suno was a very favorite program of mine, I rarely missed an episode. All the hoards of musical programs of today owe their credits to this program, which was the pioneer. Sunidhi Chauhan reached heights from here.
Katah sagar, Ek kahani, Satyajit Ray presents brought in a new dimension to TV serials. A story in a single episode. Many wonderful piece of literature from different languages found its place in these serials, writers like Chekov, Tolstoy or pieces from Indian writers were made into short films and telecasted in a single episode.
My review would be incomplete without the mention of Tamas, a film by Govind Nihalini, that was telecasted on Doordarshan in a sequence of episodes and it created waves all over the nation.
Continued in comments...