Let's past forward with Doordarshan in this lockdown
Even as Indian television revives a few old gems, here’s picking some more that would be a treat to watch again
Like most kids his age, eight-year-old Ronit would often listen to the tales of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata from his grandmother. Also, like most kids his age, he found them boring. But these days, he thinks otherwise. “I am watching the show with my grandmother now. And I keep asking her to tell me more about the characters.” Ronit is not the only one.
His friends too have taken to watching the mythological series, and of course, Shaktimaan, another children’s favourite from the 1990s. And discussions with friends over the phone nowadays involve Ram, Kansa, and Pandit Gangadhar Vidyadhar Mayadhar Omkarnath Shastri.
The public broadcaster, Doordarshan, shunned for over two decades, is suddenly much in news. And it’s just the kids who are sitting in front of the telly with rapt attention. Reviving serials such as Circus, Byomkesh Bakshi and Dekh Bhai Dekh has guaranteed that adults too have a shot at going back a few decades. Renuka Shahane, who worked with Shah Rukh Khan in Circus, says, “The show was gripping, realistic and not over the top.” The cult show was first aired in 1989. Directed by Aziz Mirza and Kundan Shah, it was about a circus troupe.
The recent ones to join the bandwagon is the 1993 soap, Dekh Bhai Dekh, which was directed by Anand Mahendroo and produced by Jaya Bachchan, besides the Partition drama Buniyaad and the comic-relief sitcom Shrimaan Shrimati. Rajit Kapur, who played Byomkesh Bakshi in Season one and two of Basu Chatterji’s series by the same name, says, “It’s a great thing that they have started showing it again. It’s a humbling experience when you have done the job and the impact of it is still there 30 years later. It is not something that you experience every day.”
As Star TV entered India in the 1990s, it made a dent in the viewer base of DD National. Within a few years, the national telecaster had lost out to the cable network. As if this wasn’t enough, OTT platforms arrived. Suddenly, everything was available on the go. But now that olden goldies are back, why not have some more on board?
Bharat Ek Khoj
Based on Pt Jawaharlal Nehru’s The Discovery of India and directed by Shyam Benegal, it covers the 5,000-year history of India till its independence in 1947.
Adapted from a collection of short stories by writer RK Narayanan, it revolves around the antics of Swami and his friends in fictional town, Malgudi.
Touted as Indian television’s first-ever soap opera and drama series, it brought to the fore the struggles and aspirations of a typical Indian middle class family.
Written and produced by Gulzar, it featured Naseeruddin Shah as the Urdu poet in Emperor Bahadurshah Zafar’s court. The ghazals were sung by Chitra and Jagjit Singh.
Directed by Kundan Shah and Saeed Mirza, this social satire threw up issues faced by the lower income group and the labour class of the country.
Vikram aur Betaal
Another mythology that showcased King Vikramiditya and the way he stands up for everything that is honest and uses his wit to outsmart a ghost.
Famed for being
India’s longest-running cultural show, it was the first to open audience interaction through a weekly quiz. It also had the largest audience response.