Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dukh darshan

Back in the days when I was a kid, TV consisted of 1 or 2 channels broadcast by an entity that is (affectionately ?) now called Dukhdarshan. TV was something that was not meant for kids and considered (quite rightly) a waste of time. Colour television had come to India before I was born in 1982, but it took a bit more for a colour TV to arrive in my home. I have pretty hazy memories of our old TV set.

From what I can recollect, it was probably made by some sarkari PSU like UPTron (for the lesser informed ... UPTron was something like UP Electronics. There was a Keltron too; from Kerala). It had a two wooden panes in front of the screen, which had to be opened in order to view the TV. Dont have much idea about the controls, wasnt allowed to fiddle too much with it.

Sometime in the mid 80s, the old made way for the new and a colour Beltek television was bought. It had a control panel which had switches for 9 channels, which was a bit of an overkill for those times. It wasnt till the advent of cable TV did 9 channels feel woefully inadequate. This Beltek TV was the one on which I watched most of the TV in my life. So just for the sake of nostalgia, here are some of the popular things on TV of those times:

Buniyad: This was a serial watched mainly by the adults of the family. I have no idea about the story, or even a vague recollection of its content.

Humlog: See Buniyad.

Nukkad: I have a vague recollection about this serial. There was some drunkard called Khopdi in it. Apart from that, no clue.

Ulta pulta: A Jaspal Bhatti offering, I was too small to remember the contents of this show. However, I vividly remember his Flopshow, which will be mentioned later.

Karamchand: The carrot chewing detective, with his bumbling moll called Kitty. Pankaj Kapoor rocked in this serial. As a matter of fact, I saw a hoarding the day before ... Karamchand is going to be back on TV (Sony) after 20 years!! Eagerly waiting for it.

Byomkesh Bakshi: This was a fanstastic serial, with National award winning actor Rajit Kapur playing the lead role. Everyone used to eagerly wait for each episode and it used to be the topic of discussion in school the next day. Last year, I got an urge to to read the stories of this Sherlock-like detective. After many disappointments, Midlands was able to order the book from me. I was realy happy to get my grubby hands on it!

Dekh Bhai Dekh: The serial which established Shekhar Suman as the funny man. It was probably the original serial about a rich joint family, before Kekta KKapurr unleashed her creative (?) instincts. The episodes shot in London were probably a first for Indian television. It was eagerly awaited each week, I even followed re-runs for some time on Sony.

Flopshow: Iss serial ke baare main jitna kaha jaye ... kam hai. Jaspal Bhatti is the king of comedy. The crisp dialogues, the hilarious parodies all woven into situations which the aam-aadmi faced. Should be preserved for posterity, so that future generations can get a glimpse into what life was like. In today's day and age of the mobile one, one would be hard pressed to understand why someone was willing to marry his daughter to a telephone line man!

Ramayan: Ramanand Sagar's best known work, probably best known for its cheap "special effects". It set the guidelines for all mythologicals made henceforth, especially regarding the behaviour of arrows in battle. Kind of arrows shown, with their appearance and "effect", it was truly mind-boggling.

Mahabharat: BR Chopra's Mahabharat was light years ahead of Ramanyan in terms of everything (except the story :P). I have heard that streets used to be deserted and Parliament and Cabinet meetings were re-scheduled around it. The sets and acting were superb. Have watched many re-runs.

Chandrakanta: An extremely confusing serial telecast in the mid 90s. Chandrakata, as the name suggests was named after a character named Chandrakanta, who was a princess. The confusing part is that she probably never made an appearance after the first few episodes. In fact, the kingdoms of Naigarh and Vijaygarh (jinn main thi takrar) were also largely absent. Instead, a parallel story line forked off somewhere in Junagadh, where comic characters like Kruror Singh, Pandit Jaganath etc abounded. As a friend remarked a few days ago, all that Pandit Jaganath did was to throw dice and do some mumbo-jumbo ... do char aath matlab Junagadh par khatra!! The presence of duplicates and duplicates of duplicates made things all the more confusing. Good riddance.

Didi's Comedy Show: A German show; it dubbed into English for telecast. Starring Dieter Hallervorden it was as the English title suggested, Non Stop Nonsense. There were many reruns of it on Doordarshan and I remember watching each one of them. The strange thing is that none of my college friends seem to have watched it. Any reader who had watched this serial is urged to comment in support!

Telematch: Another German show dubbed in English, it showed teams from different German cities competing against each other in funny competitions. Kind of the stuff seen on Pogo these days, with a voice-over by Javed Jaffery; only Telematch was infinitely better, given that it did not have Javed Jaffery.

Polti Baba: Nice children's serial with puppets telling a story.

This is of course not an exhaustive list about the nice things on TV in those days. Havent purposefully mentioned Tu Tu Main Main and Shriman Shrimati. Zabaan Sambhalke was also nice. Might write about the nice things on Sony sometime in the future. I Dream of Jeanie, Dennis the Menace, Different Strokes, Bewitched and Who's the Boss were really great. Too bad they stopped telecasting them. Chamatkar starring Farukh Sheikh was awesome too.

It is a pity that now television consists only of rich families consisties of weepy bahus and scheming vamps. The only watchable Hindi serial, The Comedy Show on Star One appears to have been cancelled. Looks like everyone wants to cater to the lowest common denominator. Thats why Kekta Kapur and Karan Johar are laughing all the way to the bank :(.


Blogger atish said...

"It had a two wooden panes in front of the screen.."
ECTV was another one which had the same specs.. my grandfather had one :)
btw ur nostalgia posts are getting better and better...:0 keep writing yaar

5:26 am  
Anonymous CaliguliminiX said...

I couldn't stop laughing after reading the "behaviour of arrows" in Ramayan!!! That was brilliant.

What about those mast cartoons ? He-Man and the masters of the universe ? I used to be completely gaga about them.

10:58 am  
Blogger anonymous coward said...


yaar this post was more about the serials and not the cartoons. might write a post about them sometime later.he-man, spiderman, ducktales, talespin, batman and the old toonz on cartoon network were gr8. hate the dubbed anime crap shown nowadays.

1:20 am  
Blogger Shankar said...

nice write up on some of those old serials ..... i agree that the quality of indian serials now are really bad

btw, i did go to acm's international collegiate programming contest

7:54 am  
Blogger Wanderer said...

for some reading pleasure

chandrakanta ki kahani
yeh maana hai purani
yeh purani ho kar bhi
badi lagti hai suhani

naugarj vijaygarh mein thi takraar
naugarh ka tha jo rajkumar
chandrakanta se karta tha pyaar

i remember i once met guys on a train who used to take a 2 hr journey every week to patna just to watch chandrakanta because there were no tvs in their village

9:41 pm  
Blogger YourKG said...

teen terah teyis , vipdaa hai bhaari..
Dushman hai ek nar, ek naari --Pandit Jaggananth (Chandrakanta).

Correction: It is 'Potli Baba Ki' not Polti.

I have watched Didi's comedy show. Didis at olympics was one of my favorite.

1:16 am  
Blogger Ankit Gupta said...

dude.... nice collection.
I would like to add "Captain Vyom" and "Shaktiman" to the list.
Captain Vyom was my definition of happiness. Sunday 0900 followed by ducktales and talespin. This was the stuff heaven should be made up of.

i think with the advent of computer games and internet, TV became the property of all the aunties of the world. Hence the kekta kapoor ....

5:39 am  
Anonymous Aby said...

Add to that:
Vikram aur Betaal (Arun Govil as the king, again)
Dada Dadi ki Kahaniyan (with Ashok Kumar as dadaji).

I miss my kiddie days of mid-80s.


2:55 am  
Blogger Jainz said...

hey...i've watched didi's...every saturday afternoon !!!
it was rocking...this guy had the craziest leer and used to carry it off with panache...

and telematch...had that cool music in the beginning ( part time lover, i think ) and a guy doing break dance, the craze of those times !!!

7:15 am  
Blogger prakhar said...

after reading about all the long forgotten TV serials memory takes me back to those days of fun when i jus used to return from school(was in 2nd or third std that time) put my bag on the couch and jus swith on CARTOON NETWORK.
every cartoon show aired that time seems to be a masterpiece when i compare them to the ones running now. i miss them
would like to mention some of them.

swat kats Temember t-bone and razor.this was one of my first shows which tickled the sci-fi muscles of my mind.TURBOJET was awesome as was teh style of the two.

centurions The space station.the weaponary.the sky,the land,the sea.....power extreme

wacky races all the differently unique cars that had special features.dirty tricks and "muttley" the dog.loved the way he laughed !!

aladdin sorry to break away from the protocol 'cartoon ntwk' here but it was probably the only half an hour of the week when i used to watch doordarshan-friday 4.00 p.m. arabian nights !!!!

and yeah does nyone remember "the three stooges" ?? two cousins and their friend.....this was one show that made me laugh till i cried.

one really awesome show aired was 'yeh shadi nahi ho sakti' remember Golcha and his plans to produce a flop film to become extremely poor......
man! loved all those shows and hav hope that some day the current scenario of the indian television is gonna change from tear-clad ladies with tonnes of jewellery(i wonder how they manage to walk) to something sensible.......

3:20 am  

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