My grandparents were one of the “early adopters” of Television. I was also born in that house and ever since my birth, I saw a big television set at home. Friendly neighbours – uncles, aunties, kids used to come in groups or single to watch the various TV programmes – whether it’s a cricket match, a movie, serials or even the hourly news. Seeing those people visiting home at all regular and even odd hours, I often had a “neighbors’ envy, owners’ pride” kind of attitude which thankfully went unnoticed though.
We didn’t have a TV in our new villa where we later shifted, something my mom often regretted. Then finally, dad got the first TV set when I was 8 year old in 1986. It was an Oscar TV – black and white. I often felt like an astronaut operating the buttons and switches and looked on with wonder as if through the digital medium I can see the world beyond my capacity.
Those were the days of Doordarshan. What I remember the most was DD news. There were no breaking news flashes, no news tickers and no unnecessary prolonged and repetitive conversations on the same issue like today, yet news reading was so powerful and engaging. I used to look at the news readers with awe – to me they seemed to me the most amazing people on earth – Rini Khanna, Gitanjali Iyer, Nithi Ravindran, Tejeshwar Singh, Mini and Sunit Tandon, and so many… cant recall. Well, I should not miss out on names like Shammi Narang, Salma Sultan and Avinash Kaur Sareen as well. Their calm facial expressions and great vocabulary used to fascinate me.
There was a game I remember playing with mom. I’d quiz her on the names of the news readers while she was in the kitchen and let me tell you she was hardly ever wrong in guessing the names.
My next favourite on Doordarshan were the advertisements. Remember, the ads of Lalitaji’s Surf, bajaj bulb’s jab main chota ladka tha, badi sharat karta tha, Prestige-cooker –jo biwi se kare pyaar, who prestige se kaise kare inkaar, chal meri luna, Rasna ads, la laralala liril ads, Fevicol ka mazboot zor, Gold spot – the zing thing….and many many more. (For more moments of nostalgia, you can check this one out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQG9lP0QD0g)
Of course, commercials of today, to a large extent – except for the dim-witted fairness ads and et al – have kept pace with the current trends and are creative.
As children, we would wait for Sundays to tune in to our favourite animation series beginning with Mickey & Donald, Tom & Jerry, Mowgli and Spiderman. I remember watching The Famous Five on DD though the enjoyed reading them more. Star Trek was one big wonder that gave me the opportunity to explore a fantastic universe teeming with exotic life – my love for aliens began with them!
The other programmes that leave behind a sea of nostalgicmemories are Chitrahaar and Rangoli – I feel even to this day no other music programme (forget the reality shows that are horrendous) have stolen that limelight. No prizes for guessing the most popular National Integration song Mile Sur Mera Tumhara and before I realised, both the men, already stole my heart – Shiddharth Basu with his intelligent Quiz Show and Pronoy Roy showing us bits and pieces of happenings from across the world in The World this Week. A Mouthful Of Sky still remain a landmark – my first virtual encounter with model cum actor Milind Soman began with this serial – such memorable days still brings back a smile!
I was never too fond of the regular TV serials which were a part and parcel of most households, but I cannot forget the rib-tickling comedies like Yeh jo hai Zindagi starring Satish Shah and Swaroop Sampat, Wagle ki duniya or Jaspal Bhatti’s Ulta-pulta. Yes, seeing the elderly members enjoying Buniyaad, Malgudi Days, Kachchi Dhoop, Byomkesh Bakshi and many more, I also sat through and grasped whatever I could.
And then there was Mahabharat – that was the show stealer.
They made us live, laugh, cry, applaud, sympathise with all those characters who were surreal yet so life-like for us. I’ve still not come in terms with the satellite TV soap operas as they call it, marked by the never-ending, messy plots, where vamps spotting a scary bindi with matchy jewellery and outfit and the camera focusing onto the faces of 20-odd members of a typical household to capture their reaction after every dialogue is being uttered.
Oh well, and not to forget ‘Rukaawat ke liye khed hai’ – the crazy one liner that flashed time and again on screen. All said and done, Doordarshan also showed us if you do not change with time, you become antique – only to be appreciated in a museum. But even then, that does not take away its past glory.
And just like the spirited logo of Doordarshan that marks the start and end of good times, I need to say goodbye to all my readers, but stay tuned as I’ll be back with my next post…soon!