On April 25, 34 years ago, Doordarshan started the test run of India’s first colour broadcast. It not only heralded a new era for Indian television, it also enabled sports enthusiasts to watch the Asian Games in colour. Such was the craze of watching the sports extravaganza on colour TV, that people were ready to spend as much as Rs 8,000 on an Indian set and up to Rs 15,000 on the imported version, according to a 1982 India Today report.
That was just the start. Indian television witnessed its first Indian soap Hum Log in the same decade. That was also the decade that saw the launch of Ramayan and Mahabharat. DD fizzled out with time, due to the introduction of satellite television in the early 90s. Now in the era of video streaming services, TV lovers are spoilt for choice. But we cannot ever forget the shows that are part of history and a part of our childhood. Here are five iconic shows from that era:
1. Hum Log: India’s first soap opera, Hum Log told the story of Basesar Ram and his family. People who have followed the show still remember each and every member of his family. Basesar’s kids–Badki, Majhli, Chutki, Nanhe, Lalloo and his wife Bhagwanti–were some of the memorable characters of the show. Legendary actor Ashok Kumar was the narrator of the show who appeared at the end of every episode and added his comments. Written by popular writer Manohar Shyam Joshi, the script, characters and the presentation was a class apart. Check out the show’s first episode and see for yourself:
2. Buniyaad: Another show written by Manohar Shyam Joshi, and directed by popular filmmaker Ramesh Sippy and Jyoti, Buniyaad first aired in 1986 on DD National. It has been also re-aired numerous times. Alok Nath might be remembered more as the Sanskari Babuji of Bollywood and TV now, but Master Haveliram was one of his most memorable characters ever. The show also starred Anita Kanwar, Kanwaljeet Singh, Kruttika Desai, Kiran Juneja, and Abhinav Chaturvedi (Nanhe of Hum Log).
3. Nukkad: “Bade shahar ki ek gali mein basa hua hai Nukkad,” that’s how the title song of the show went. Only if the directors of the mettle of Aziz Mirza return to direct on TV, can we expect to get quality shows on Indian television. Starring Dilip Dhawan (Guru), Rama Vij (Teacherji), Pavan Malhotra (Hari), Sangeeta Naik (Radha), and Avtar Gill (Kadebhai) in lead roles, the sitcom showed the daily struggles of the aam aadmi.
4. Ramayan: Ramayan, created by Ramanand Sagar and starring Arun Govil and Deepika Chikhalia in the roles of Ram and Sita respectively, was the television adaptation of the Hindu religious epic. It was aired between 1986-88, and became so popular among the masses that nobody stepped out of their houses when Ramayan was on air.
5. Mahabharat: The same was the case with Mahabharat. The 94-episode series originally ran from October 2, 1988 to June 24, 1990 on DD National. Produced by BR Chopra and directed by his son Ravi Chopra, the script of the show was written by the Urdu poet Rahi Masoom Raza, based on the original story by Ved Vyasa. Considering the scale of the show, no wonder the makers had to rope in a huge cast. It comprised actors like Nitish Bhardwaj (Lord Krishna), Kiran Juneja (Ganga), Mukesh Khanna (Bhishma), Gajendra Chouhan (Yudhishthir), Roopa Ganguly (Draupadi) among others.