Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Telly Tales part-2

If I gave the impression in this post that I've grown up watching only English television, let me not delude you. Fortunately I grew up in times when Doordarshan produced cult shows and Indian television had not been besmirched by the crass commercialization. The private channels too were not the money-spinning, balderdash churning channels that they've become today.
Here are a few personal favorites.

1. Malgudi Days

This is the first television series that sprang up in my mind when I was thinking of good old Doordarshan days.
Who can forget the mischievous Swami ? His Calvin-like unwillingness to go to school., his constant tomfoolery, his best friends Mani and Rajam. A masterpiece penned down by R.K Narayan and the hilarious sketches done by brother R.K Laxman proved to be a lethal combination. Of all the stories I was most inclined to the ones that featured under ' Swami and Friends'. What's more! Even the title tune was so catchy- "Ta na na tana nana na..ta na na tana nana na". :) Malgudi days were fun days.

2. Chitrahaar


Long before MTV came to India in an aeroplane, long before we requested our cable-walla to tune in Channel V,. long before You and Tube became a single word-there was Chitrahaar. And Wednesdays were changed forever. Every Wednesday at 8:30 P.M we would huddle in the living room and watch with rapt attention the Bollywood music being televised. I was quite small then, but my enjoyment was not. I loved Bollywood songs! The captivating music,the dancing around trees, the change of costumes within seconds. It was my first glimpse into the world of cinema, and...Mercy! I was awed by these movie stars at that time. I thought they were really remarkable people as they could  sing so melodiously without catching their breaths while doing those graceful dance movements! Also the fact that they could change their clothes, jewelery and make-up faster than I could untie my ribbon seemed to be a superhuman feat. I don't know how many times have I looked back and thought- "God, I was stupid!"

3. Mahabharat

          Ath Shri Mahabharat Katha
          Katha hain purushaarth ki, yeh swaarth ki, paramaarth ki
          Saarthi jinke bane Shri Krishna, Bharat Parth ki
Mahabharat has always appealed to me. I think it still is the greatest story ever told, scoring above Ramayan or any other epic. Maybe because the characters were so much human, totally susceptible to human frailty. It practically established the adage-to err is human. There is possibly no human emotion that this epic skips. You've got love, lust, trust,betrayal, fear, jealousy, anger, rage, remorse, hatred, disappointment, sadness, humiliation, euphoria, guilt, sympathy, nervousness, forgiveness and many more.
When I was in 7th, along with the regular text book and work book 
we had an entire book of Mahabharat in Hindi. Reading the book, and watching the show side by side turned out to be quite an experience.

4. Potli Baba ki 


The picture of this show is unavailable on the internet. But I vividly remember this one. A wise and shrunken old storyteller would regale me endlessly with stories of Ali Baba and forty thieves, and of Aladin.
               Ghungar wali, Chhenu wali, Jhunnu ka Baba
                 Kisson ka, kahaaniyon ka geeto ka chhaba  :)
5. Chhoti si asha

Now, this one was a heart rending tale. One of those simple and humane stories that show you how very remarkable human bondages are, even the non-blood ones. I miss such story-lines these days. A very well defined, artistically portrayed story that had the power to induce in you beautiful feelings that were happy and melancholy from time to time-that's what this series was all about. This was a story of a newly-widowed, jobless mother who was forced to give away her children in adoption after she came to know she was dying. By the time a good Samaritan helped her through her operation and she came to know that she will survive after all, the children were dispersed in different parts of India and happily adjusted to their new lives. Then, the story shifts to their adulthood, the search, the hesitance of the mother to meet her children and yet a yearning to do so, the non-recognition of her children, the reunion of the mother with their children, the siblings with each other. 
The only show till date, wherein I actually loved 'the leap'. A beautifully written and directed  show! And the actors were a cut above today's hamming actors.
This one too was originally aired in DD National, but I watched it in the re-runs in Sony TV.

6. Hum Paanch

 The Czarina Kapoor can almost be forgiven for torturing the entire nation with her hopeless tearjerkers just for producing this one. When the other world was watching a popular sitcom featuring six friends, India was getting tickled by five rather troublesome daughters. The 'tapori' language popularized by Kajal bhai had become quite a lingo amongst girls, and so had Sweety's rummy habit of opening the door only after singing a song. I remember picking up that habit myself for a short while! All in all Hum Paanch was 30 minutes well invested.

7. Dekh bhai dekh

Before most of them went on to become our favorite telly stars in different serials, Jaya Bachchan had clustered all of them together in Dekh bhai dekh.It was a family comedy, mostly nonsensical .Definitely a good time pass, but more importantly a good family time pass show.

8. Just Mohabbat 

Welcome to the world of Jay. His school, teachers, parents, sister, crushes, girlfriend and imaginary friend. Every school-goer could relate to this show. The unadulterated friendships, playing for hours, the menace of homework, dodging the bullies,standing up to them eventually, laughing at the expense of the teachers, group projects, sleepovers. Sigh! This was also a coming of age TV show for me. I was on the gateway of my teenage. Had just started to look at my male classmates differently. They were not gross and stupid anymore. Beginning of teenage is a time in life when one is very impressionable, very malleable. And this show made a huge impact on my life then .I came to know what dating meant, what kind of hints to drop and what kinds to pick up, what guys talk about, what they actually say and what they mean to say.And of course- how utterly awesome high school was going to be! And then college-Oh my! College was going to be a paradise. I, at times, get jealous of my earlier self. Granted I was a fool, but I was also so much alive, so happy. So hopeful. When I thought of future, all I could see was a world full of infinite opportunities. There was nothing that was improbable or unattainable.

9. Saboot

Years before I had picked up my first Agatha Christie, I knew that Crime was my favorite genre. That was when I started watching Saboot. This little popular serial was absolutely mind blowing. And original, mind you. I still vividly remember an episode about a murder during a beauty pageant-still gives me the creeps. Then there was one about an old man who died in his room and his much younger wife was accused of the murder. What a unique solution that one had! Even Christie never wrote a story with that kind of plot.
And the character of Inspector KC was again singularly superb. I just love female detectives. That's right, I'd any day  prefer Marple over Poirot. This particular character that the supremely talented Anita Kanwar (of Buniyaad fame) essayed was messy, clumsy, sensitive, empathetic and Genius!  
Unfortunately, this series is nowhere to be found on the cyberspace. So either you were fortunate enough to watch it, or you missed a superb series of Indian whodunit. 

Well..that's my list. Did I miss out something significant? Do let me know. I also plan to write a similar post on  90s' long lost cartoons very soon :)
So long!


Satwinder Singh said...

Very interesting and nostalgic post. :)

You could have added Shaktimaan too, that was quite popular. :)

neelanjana said...

Thanks Satwinder!
I thought of Shaktimaan, but since I didn't follow it religiously I couldn't have done justice to the description. But yes, as you rightly said, Shaktimaan was a very popular show of the 90s.

M in love said...

made me go back in flashback!! Malgudi days "swami n his friends" was my favorite.. n those sunday mornings I used to wait for mahabharat to start.. one of the shows i used to watch regularly was hum paanch and small wonder (hindi dubbed version)... Telly was indeed so much more better than what it is today.Pity the kids today are deprived of these shows.. growing up in 90's rocks!!

neelanjana said...

@ M in love!
Bang on! One wouldn't believe what truck load of trash the kids watch these days. We indeed are lucky to grow in the 90s :)

The Fool said...

Nostalgic. Those days, DD was so good compared to the crap the channels produce these days. Others that come to my mind are Buniyaad, HumLog, Indradanush, Ramayan, Junoon, Byomkesh Bakshi, Reporter, Ek do teen char. The list is endless.

neelanjana said...

@ The fool

I do remember my parents watching Hum Log.For some reason I never really followed it. Now, Byomkesh Bakshi-I can't believe I forgot to put that up in the list :o
He was the reason why Sherlock Holmes appeared so familiar when I read it years later!

tarunima said...

thats such a lovely post!
it reminded me of the good old days:))

neelanjana said...

Thanks Tarunima :)

Anonymous said...

i know that makes me sound old but they just dont make it like that anymore- i remember even when cable had just started you had such great serials like tara, banegi apni baat, dekh bhai dekh etc which were amazing but today i just cant stand the wailing saas bahu dramas!

neelanjana said...

In that case, old really is gold! Even the TV series out of the domain of saas bahu dramas are codswallop. For example,Indian teens these days are crazy about serial which is a very badly done remake of Twilight!Going to dogs I say.

Mirage_illusion4u said... can also add 'Neev'..that was a story about friends and hostel life...