Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Down The Memory Lane - The Times of DD

I am back with my blog, this time a humble and nostalgic effort to take back to your childhood days..Cheers!!

The weekend was bad, rather not so good; my back ache had buckled me to the bed, not allowing me to stay in one position for more than 4-5 minutes. I was surfing through the television channels lying on bed, and soon I noticed that I was doing nothing but going from 0 to 54 (that is the only number of channels I have on my television) and then again 0 to 54, and then again and again. I was tired watching that Indo-Pak terror debate, reality shows were irritating me, and I couldn’t handle any more breaking news with my broken back, neither was I interested in any kind ofsaas-bahu or the rona-dhona type of soaps, south Indian films dubbed in hindi were a big NO, I was in no mood for business news either, I had also had enough of Ghajini and Rab Ne trailors, songs, and reviews. I remember, only thing that possibly kept me glued to any particular channel was the advertisements – Limca (I love this ad for its jingle, the zing, and the babe, of course),Raymond, Bingo, few insurance ads, ads with kids in them, and so on, however, that was short-lived, hardly for few seconds. I would have watched Balika Vadhu!! (;-) ) on Colors, but I had already finished watching the episodes all through the week. I thought better it was to switch off the television and continue reading a book, long due -One Hundred Years of Solitude. My reading was short-lived as well; I was twisting and turning myself on the bed all the while. I thought of switching on the television again, but then there is nothing to watch. Really? Wasn’t there a single program or anything on any channel that would interest me? Has this all time entertainer idiot-box turned into a dumb piece of scrap? I mean yes, there was once a time, when I used to run to watch particular program leaving back playing cricket or not worrying much about how crowded the train was. Ahhh! Yes that was the time of Doordarshan – a single channel then (80’s & 90’s), which entertained, educated, informed, and served special feast of programs on the weekends, especially Sunday. It was good. It was only one channel and there were no remotes either at that time, thus the urge to surf to some other channel was obviously ruled out. However, let’s not take away the credit of what Doordarshan was at that time, just because of this reason. I still cherish those memories of yesteryears – watching DD (Doordarshan) programs on our black & white television housed in wooden box with horizontal shutters.

Quite immediately the DD logo flashed in front of my eyes, and I could vividly remember how the roads used to be empty on Sunday mornings, when Ramayan or Mahabharat were aired (in different years) – it used to be a curfew like situation. I still remember how my grandmother used to join her palms and bow down to Nitish Bharadwaj (played Shri Krishnain Mahabharat). Both these epic series were made so interesting and were so well narrated that you could hardly skip them. (Please let us not even think about comparing it to today’sRamayan and Mahabharatprograms, like some news channels did). What I had seen in my childhood was certainly class apart.

I used to love watching Duck Tales, cartoon show about Donald Duck (Uncle Scrooge), his quest for acquiring more gold, swimming in that pool of gold, and his 3 mischievous nephews, it was the best. Even my dear friend, Naman would concur on this (please help me with the names of those 3 little ducks- uui dui, lui I think). Pssst...Naman can still, till date, mimic Uncle Scrooge :-)

While I mention Naman here, I am also reminded of how we use to desperately rush home by 8.30 PM so that we could see Dekh Bhai Dekh. Total fun – “Iss rang badalti duniya mein kya tera hai kya mera hai, dekh bhai dekh, dekh bhai dekh”. Shekhar Suman’s style of delivering a long dialog non-stop had amazed us at that time. Another serial which we loved was Jabaan Sambhal Ke – good humour and jokes ;-)

Gosh! How can I forget my Thursday evening (7.00PM) favorite, I used to wind up playing cricket for this – Giant Robot, loved to see this machine fly in the air and obey the commands sent from a wrist watch.

Similar to this animated action series was – He-Man & The Masters of the Universe, so many times I had raised my bat up in air shouting, “I hhhaaaaaaaaaaavvvee daaaaaaaaaaa powwwaaahhhhh”(I have the power....hee hee). Then there was something that I loved watching with my mom and sisters while having tea in the evening, around 4.30 PM – I Dream of Jeannie – not animated series but a very cute comedy about an army (or was it navy) officer and a jeannie, who would surprise him with her tricks, throw tantrums at him, make him land in some kind of trouble and then get him out of it too.

Do you remember Gayab Aya? It was on an animated character and had a good title song as well. Then there was “jungle jungle baat chali hai, pata chala hai, chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai phool khila hai” – yes Mowgli featured, Jungle Book, again a very interesting animation series, I loved its title song, and Sherkhan, and Bagira, and the Baalo.

The most hilarious comedy series I have ever seen is Didi’s Comedy Show – Saturday evenings 4.00 PM, if I am not wrong. I used to roll on the floor watching this – the character Didi (a German actor) and his encounters in daily life, if you see the kind of faces he can make and expressions he can deliver, Jim Carrey will soon fade off your memory.

Children’s series also had other good programs like the Stone Boy, Vikram Vetaal, Dada Dadi Ki Kahaniya (Ashok Kumar used to tell stories to kids, forgot the female dadi in this),Spiderman, Appu Aur Pappu (appu aur pappu ki dekho yaari, sabse pyaari sabse nyaari, appu aur pappu, appu aur pappuuuuuuu), Ek Doo Teen Char (ek doo teen char, ek doo teen char, charon milke saath chalet oh karde chamatkaar), Potli Baba Ki, Danasurr, and so many others.
And yes, there was this “taaanaaa naaa taaanaaa naa naa naa, taaanaaa naaa taaanaaa naa naa naa”Malgudi Days, stories about Swami (Master Manjunath) and his friends.

Not only for children, but there was also good amount of entertainment for grown ups and family as well. On lighter side, there were Wagle Ki Duniya(Anjan Shrivastav & Bharti Achrekar),Yeh Jo Hai Jindagi (30 years ka experience hai line came from this series – Satish Shah, Swaroop Sampat, Rakesh Bedi, Shafi Inaamdar etc), Aaa Bail Mujhe Maar (Amol Palekar, Harish Patel),Manoranjan etc.

Mind you, there was some serious hair raising, tear trickling stuff enough to give you Goosebumps – Buniyaad, Humlog, Tamas, Palash Ke Phool (jab jab mere ghar aanaaaa, phool palash ke le aanaaa), Sukanya, Kali Ganj Ki Baho (not sure if this is name of the serial but had Nutan in it and it was my mom’s favorite.

Kshitij Yeh Nahi was another excellent 13 episode series that dealt with widow remarriage. I liked Supriya Pilgaonkar in this (and that’s the last time I liked her). Other good serials (my mother’s testimony) could include – Noopor(Hema Malini opposite Shekhar Kapoor, I think so),Trishna (Hindi remake of Pride and Prejudice), Gul Gulshan Gulfaam (starring Parikshit Sahani, stories about Kashmir and the scenic beauty of house-boats), Khaandaan, and I am sure there are many other.

There was another good emotional, family drama kind of serial – Imtihaan, starring Renuka Shahane, Aloknath, Raju Kher, and my among one of my crush, Firdaus Dadi – she was damn cute.

Udaan (pardon the image used, couldn’t find one in police uniform) and Rajani(ladki hai ek naam rajani hai, rajani, rajani – Priya Tendulkar with Karan Razdan as her screen husband) were two good serials that epitomized women power unlike today’s Tulsi and Parvati. Aarohanfeaturing Pallavi Joshi struggling with Air Force training and then rising to the top was another good series to see a woman in action.

Talking about Pallavi Joshi’s air force, Shahrukh’s Fauji comes gushing to my memory. Young SRK playing Abhimanyu Rai and taking army training – frankly at that time I never knew this Fauji would walk all the way to becoming the Donof today's Indian film industry. Shahrukh had also featured in another DD serial – Doosra Kewal and a few more guest appearances here and there.Paramveer Chakra was another inspiring serial based on defence and army.

Shahrukh also reminds me of another very good serial, Circus based on the lives of people working in a circus, their emotions, problems, bonding etc. The serial had Renuka Shahane (played Madhuri’s sister in Hum Aapke Hain Koun), Pavan Malhotra (played Tiger Memon in Black Friday, also Shahid’s uncle in Jab We Met), Makarand Deshpande (sang Yuhi Chala Chal Rahi with Shahrukh inSwades), Ashutosh Gowarikar (do I say anything about him? :-] ).

Another such serial which portrayed bonding and emotions of common people was Saeed Mirja’s Nukkad, which dealt with lives of small time workmen like sweeper, cycle mechanic, waiter, grocer, barber, beggar etc. It starred Rama Viz (teacher ji), Dilip Dhawan (Guru), Pavan Malhotra (Hari), and others. The characters of Ghanchu Bhikari and Khopdi had become quite famous at that time.
I remember serials based on college life and campus. Neev was the best one about student life in college and hostel; it had Ali Asghar (today’s Comedy Circusfame). Chunauti was damn good with Channa Ruparel (again someone I had fallen flat for), and the serial had Suchitra Krishnamoorthy (debut) as well. In Marathi, there was a serial called Sanskaar, again about school students with Mohan Joshi as their principal trying to teach discipline by a liberal approach.

Horror and suspense thriller also found enough accommodation in the entertainment space.Killey Ka Rahasya was the most horrifying one, I still remember the music and hand that approached on the screen, it was aired at 10.30PM, I had often skipped going for a leak before going to bed, it was so scary. Byomkesh Bakshi is the most intelligent detective serial I have ever seen. The plots, the solutions were splendid, so was Rajit Kapoor’s performance along with K. K. Raina (Ajit Banerjee) as his assistant. Tehkikaath – Vijay Anand (supposedly the king of suspense drama –Jewel Thief, Teesri Manzil) playing a detective with Saurabh Shukla (Kallu Mama) as his assistant. However, the most popular detective-assistant pair is undoubtedly Pankaj Kapoor (Shahid's dad, Abbaji in Maqbool)and Sushmita Mukherjee (dadi in new Golmaal) in DD's detective serial,Karamchand, with Sushmita Mukherjee playing his assistant, Kitty. Ek Shunya Shunya, andHello Inspector were other crime related serials that enthused me.

I learnt cricket with Mohinder Amarnath on Sundays. He taught all budding cricketers the basics of bowling, batting, and fielding in his program, Cricket with Mohinder Amarnath. I watchedThat’s Cricket with deep interest (I used to like cricket game then, till the time it was not so overly commercialised), and Bodyline on Sunday nights had made me crazy, the fight between England and Australia. Narottam Puri gave latest sports updates in his 4.00PM Saturday program – World of Sports.

Doordarshan had good educational and informative programmes as well. I particularly likedTurning Point, hosted by Girish Karnad and in the later stages by Mahesh Bhatt. The program gave a lot of information on evolution, science, universe, explained various phenomena, Dr. Yashpal used to show some simple do-it-yourself science experiments with excellent explanations and reasoning. Another program full of good information was Surbhi hosted by Renuka Shahane and Siddharth Kak. I never missed these two programs. Though I had not keenly followed Bharat Ek Khoj, I did like some of its episodes and the information it gave (not available in school history book).

News coverage also was good, did not understand much about professionalism at that time as I was of a tender age then, and there was no funda of breaking news or zooming camera angles or unnecessary background scores. The news readers looked very mature and professional unlike today’s casual ones. I liked the intro music (Tabla rhythm) of World this Week conducted by Prannoy Roy, and ofcourse the news covered in it. I used to see the same face everyday for years, which read news to me and to entire of India at 8.30 PM. I forgot the lady’s name but the male was Suneet Tandon, he also use to host a quiz program –Challenge the Master.
“Mile surr mera tumhara”,“Tree of Unity”,“Ek Chidiya Anek Chidiya”were some snippets that I had never missed on DD then, I miss them terribly today though. Pardon me, but it was me who has quit watching television and with the quality of programs that are aired these days I would completely give up watching television, I anyways have lost control over the remote.Siddhartha Basu, the acclaimed father of Indian quiz shows, hosted a quiz program – Quiz Time. It was fun to see that and even more fun to answer the questions. There was no SMS regime that time.I though saw the whole series in a repeat telecast, because i wasn't born when it began!!!

There were many other programs that are still afresh in my memories. Programs related to movies like Show Theme, Chitrageet, Chayageet, andRangoli – this was aired at 7.00 AM on Sundays, and I used to get up prefect in time and watch this show of movie songs sitting on the floor brushing my teeth, Mother used to keep shouting, how I can get up so early on Sundays and why not on other days when I had to go to school..heee heee.

I remember serials like Kakkaji Kaheen, Mungeri Laal Ke Hasin Sapne,Ulta Pulta.My mother tells me i was so fascinated by Mungeri Lal, that they had given me the same nickname!!!A Mouthful of Sky, Swabhimaan(Channa Ruparel again), were among my favourite soaps that time – just for the sake of Milind Soman, Simone Singh, Channa Ruparel, Sandhya Mrudul.Swabhimaan could any day bring down the TRPs of today’s family sabotage and politics dramas. Performances by Manoj Bajpai, Ashutosh Rana, Rohit Roy, Mita Vashisht were amazing, I also liked Kitu Gidwani’s character name in that – Svetlana.
Doordarshan also had Junoon, Shanti (Mandira Bedi’s debut), Ajnabee(starring Danny Dengzongpa) to compete with today’s Kyun Ki…, Kahani, etc, those serials were almost calibrated as non ending ones.
With the bunch of memories that stay with me of Doordarshan, the sweetest one is that the channel kept the family together, the family watched television together, had food together, laughed in one roar, sorrowed and consoled each other, and enjoyed together as well.
Just as I had finished the glimpse of those olden momentous days, a friend of mine walked with beer tins, popped out the clip and said, “Cheers to our friendship, long life, and happiness, and happiness, and….and…”

"And Doordarshan", I said, and we laughed happily ever after…hahahahaha.
P.S- This is a narrative through time. Though I wasn't born when a few these were aired for the first time, but I made sure I saw these during their repeat telecast.

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