A few days back, doing the usual channel-surfing on TV, I came across three serials playing at almost the same time on different channels. And the three serials were remarkably similar in their content and the characters. In fact, it was a typical case of ‘seen one, seen all’ variety. And not to mention that the drama levels in the serial were so high that one could not bear it after a while. Going through that ordeal, I was suddenly reminded of the golden age of television in
- ‘Honee Anhonee’ : It may seem an odd choice to many. For those who remember, this serial dealt with the paranormal (ghosts, re-incarnation and other eerie stuff). Though it aired at on Thursdays (late night in that age), I still managed to catch a few episodes. And for a boy in primary school, some of the stuff was quite scary. More than once, I remember not having a good night’s sleep after watching that.
- ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’ : (Sundays ) Being a history buff, this serial remains close to my heart. Shyam Benegal was brilliant in the way he adapted Nehru’s book to the small screen. Anchored by Roshan Seth playing Nehru himself, the serial traced
’s history right from the Mauryas to India . A galaxy of small-screen superstars played various historical characters in this mega-series. And yes, there was the wonderful title track (‘Shrishti se pehle kuch nahi tha’ – have the mp3 version, contact me if you want). Independence
- Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi: Arguably the most famous of the laugh-riots. Friday evenings at were a time to look forward to. An arraw of wonderful comic talent (Shafi Inamdar, Satish Shah, Rakesh Bedi etc) made this serial an absolute joy to watch.
- Malgudi Days: Possibly the serial that appealed the most to people of my age then (and I suspect that adults were no lesser fans). What I remember most about the serial was the way Malgudi was created and depicted. A village was bought to life in full splendour and one actually imagined oneself living there. And Master Manjunath was absolutely adorable as the protagonist.
And last, but definitely not the least:
- Mahabharata (Sundays, ): For me, it is quite simply the greatest story ever told. Even after a few millennia, the epic remains as relevant today as it was then. And BR Chopra did an almost flawless job in bringing it alive on the tube (no wonder the streets were empty on Sunday mornings). And he was backed by brilliant performances all the way through. Stars like Pankaj Dheer (Karna), Mukesh Khanna (Bheeshma), Nitish Bharadwaj (
Krishna), Roopa Ganguly (Draupadi) became super-stars of the small screen. A definite one for your collection (and I am going to buy the DVD collection soon).
In addition, there were plenty of other quality shows on TV during those times (Mr. Yogi, Mungeri Lal Ke Haseen Sapne, Khandaan etc etc etc). And not just Hindi, even the regional channels did amazingly well. Two Marathi serials that immediately come to mind are Dwidhaata (Vikram Gokhale was superb in the central role) and Swami (based on the Peshwai Sawai Madhavrao).
How I wish all these serials were re-run again by Doordarshan !! It would beat all the Zee’s and Sony’s of the world hands-down in TRP ratings.