Given the kind of goodwill and expectations the audience has from popular TV serials, wouldn’t it be great to revive some of best-loved serials of the golden years of Indian TV? And if we were to pick the era of 1980s and 1990s, it would inevitably mean serials aired on Doordarshan.In popular culture terms, the ‘80s are often considered the darkest period in Bollywood history. This was the time when the ‘70s big guns, Rajesh and Vinod Khanna, were giving dud after dud and the Khan troika of the ‘90s was yet to rise. Amitabh Bachchan and Jeetendra looked old and jaded, and Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff were nothing more than occasional flashes in the pan. Sridevi and Jaya Prada weren’t doing anything better either, busy churning out re-runs of their Tamil and Telugu hits for a foothold in mainstream pan-India cinema.
But this was the time when Indian television was warming up to some really good content. Rich in stories, an amazing collection of actors and some truly engaging storytelling meant that television was the place to be.We go down memory lane and revisit some shows that ensured every minute we spent in front of the small screen was totally worth it.
Without a doubt, the king of Indian television! Sunday mornings, with those deserted streets anywhere in India, have never been the same since then. Even today, this BR Chopra-produced multi-starrer remains the benchmark for any mythological TV serial. Such was its popularity that even the BBC telecast it, and this mega serial was dubbed in Tamil, Telugu and Indonesian for viewers as well. Who can forget Mahendra Kapoor’s rendition of the shloka from the Geeta ‘Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya’ and Harish Bhimani’s narration (he’s also the voice of Samay, if you recall).Written by Manohar Shyam Joshi, Hum Log was India’s first soap opera. Tracing the lives of the members of a lower middle class family, their aspirations and problems would soon find a taker in all. Remember characters like Nanhe, Basesar Ram, Badki and Chutki? Who can forget the monologue at the end of every episode where actor Ashok Kumar discussed the happenings and ended it with the punchline ‘Hum Log’.
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