By Dr. Priyaankaa Mathur
While the nation struggled through the stress of lockdown and home quarantine, Delhi Doordarshan brought to its viewers a reason to rejoice by re-running some of its prime shows of the 80s…Filmifiles brings to you some of the most loved Doordarshan serials which are certainly worth a second watch as they bring with them nostalgic memories of the bygone eras…
Ye Jo hai Zindagi
You do not need a reason to go and watch the 1984 series Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi all over again, since this sitcom certainly gives you all excuses to laugh. Considered as the most hilarious show of its time, Ye Jo Hai Zindagi happens to be the mother of all comedies on the Indian television even till date, which Doordarshan produced in early 80s.
Right from the beginning, its fun-filled montage sung by none other than the inimitable Kishore Kumar gave a very accurate picture of what one could expect. Written by comedy writer Sharad Joshi and directed by Kundan Shah, Ye Jo hai Zindagi had an excellent cast. One cannot forget one of the classic actors Shafi Inamdar as Ranjit Verma and his hilarious wife Renu (Swaroop Sampat) with her baby faced brother Raja (Rakesh Bedi) all creating an instant comedy with their perfect comic timings.
Although Actor Satish Shah turned out to be the scene-stealer, every time he appeared in a different character ranging from being a Gujarati shop owner, to an annoying house guest to a non-resident Indian, playing some 60 odd characters.While the supporting actors Farida Jalal and Tiku Talsania added to its fun quotient.
The plot was so interesting that there was never a dull moment in the Verma household that threw audiences into the peals of laughter. The series gave millions of its viewers a laugh riot over the day to day oddities of a middle-class family of Ranjit Verma dealing with issues like runaway family budgets, unemployment, forgotten anniversaries, mistaken identities, white lies and harmless flirting.Great acting along with a well-paced and extremely amusing script with a light and clean comedy, made this a truly memorable series.
Although the partition of 1947 brought with it a painful bloody chapter for both the countries India and Pakistan, it also gave an impetus to create some powerful works of art in the fields of both literature and cinematography, and Buniyaad was one of those masterpieces on the Indian television. Buniyaad which means the Foundation was indeed a stepping stone and a benchmark production of Doordarshan, which no other TV soap could ever reach.
First telecasted in 1987, the sitcom told the story of a Punjabi family, dealing with their fond memories of the pre-partition era, which eventually became a heart-wrenching tale of their struggles through the aftermath of partition. The story is a narration that crosses seven decades and multiple generations, spanning over 50 years from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Directed by Ramesh Sippy, Buniyaad was a drama written by Manohar Shyam Joshi, which depicted realism and authentic pre-partition Hindustan on the small screen in the 80s. Ramesh Sippy showcased absolute craftsmanship in the portrayal of the authentic period saga through its language, accent, costumes, decor, food, songs and characters that were authentic of that era.
The 105 episode series had stellar performances put together by Alok Nath, Anita Kanwar, Goga Kapoor, Sudhir Pandey, Dalip Tahil, Neena Gupta and Kiran Juneja. Alok Nath as Master Haweliram and Anita Kanwar as his wife Lajoji dealt with their families separation, losses and never-ending trials after the partition, followed by a heartwarming reunion. The story was indeed a cathartic experience for the actor Kiran Juneja who acted as Veerawali,while she felt like reliving the memories of her grandparents, who narrated to her the horrific tales of the partition era.
While, there is an interesting trivia associated with Actor Alok Nath too, who played a 90-year-old Master Haweliram, and was thought to be an old man by the industry, while he started receiving aged roles,being just a young boy in his 20s when he shot Buniyaad.
After three decades Buniyaad was yet again telecasted on Doordarshan in 2020, during the nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic. Interestingly, the series still has such a recall value with people, as they remember its characters as if it’s a memory of yesterday. They touched the hearts of the audiences of both the countries, depicting the life and times of the principal protagonists in1947.
Dekh Bhai Dekh
In the times when FRIENDS was picking up in the US, Indian television boasted of Dekh Bhai Dekh a family drama in India that was one of its kind. This hilarious comedy of the 90s brought the quirky Diwan family to the Indian household, which became the most-watched family show.
The concept of Dekh Bhai Dekh was created, developed, edited and directed by Anand Mahendroo, which was produced by Jaya Bacchan. Initially, the show was made for TV Asia London, but received an average response. Eventually when DD launched DD National, they approached Jaya Bacchan to launch Dekh Bhai Dekh in India, and since then it’s history. The show became an overnight success since the Indian audience had not seen this kind of humour ever before.
Dekh Bhai Dekh boasted of a stellar cast to include Shekhar Suman who wooed the audiences with his quick wits, while Bhavana Balsavar played his wife who was insanely funny. The supporting cast included Navin Nischol, Farida Jalal, Deven Bhojani, Sushma Seth, N K Shivpuri, Vishal Singh, Urvashi Dholakia, Nattasha Singh, all adding to the madness of the three generations of the Diwan joint family who lived together in the Diwan house in the Mumbai Suburbs. From sibling rivalries to relationship troubles, business problems, to dealing with irksome parents, and in-laws, they all dealt with the day to day situations hilariously.
The series was a perfect mix of comedy, love, drama and tragedy strongly showcasing the Indian joint family culture, its wholehearted togetherness, happiness, fun, frolic and madness. For kids who grew up in the ’90s, they arranged their day and finished homework, while their moms finished early the household chores. It brought together children to their parents and grandparents, while they all waited to watch and eat together at the dinner table in their living rooms, and enjoyed a hearty laugh.
Ramayana television series based on the popular Hindu Mythology broke all records, becoming the world’s most-watched entertainment show with 7.7 crore viewers on Doordarshan after it was re- telecasted during the pandemic. Even after three decades this beautifully depicted journey of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita by Ramanand Sagar made the Television alive amid Lockdown.
The uncorrupted VFX less version of Ramayan created by Producer-Director Ramanand Sagar still touches millions of Indian hearts.This Ramayan boasts of legendary actors who did a commendable job by enacting the mythological God’s and Goddesses, while the Indian audiences worshipped them,leaving them in tears and awe.
While,the Actor Arun Govil has enacted as good as the real Lord Ram, who was a symbol of Dharma(Righteousness),while his wife Sita, brought to life by Dipika Chikalia,who is a resilient woman, who suffered in silence, emerges as an equal to Ram in strength, patience and wisdom,while Dara Singh plays Lord Hanuman who was Ram’s eternal devotee. Each character in Ramayan played by Sunil Lahri, Swapnil Joshi, Dara Singh, Arvind Trivedi, Vijay Arora, Sanjay Jog, Sudhir Dalvi, Shyam Sundar Kalani, was indeed a treat to watch.
The show’s appeal lies in how Ramanand Sagar presented the mythological epic like a folklore while depicting Lord Ram’s trial and tribulations in this materialistic world, who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.Ram was born to teach the human race the right path towards Dharma through one’s Karma(deeds).The story traces the life of Lord Ram the eldest son of Raja Dashrath the King of Ayodhya. Ram was exiled to the forest for 14 years,as destined by a curse to his father.He fights the King of demons Ravana who kidnaps his wife Sita in the forest and establishes the win of good over evil.
The purity of Ramayan and its moral values touches the heart of the Indian audiences irrespective of any religion, while they all loved watching it. Ramayana is not just a story that we have grown up seeing on the television, it is our history where the truth wins over the evil minds. The teachings and lessons proclaimed in Ramayana are relevant even in today’s world and can make Life easier if facing a whirl. There are a lot of good things that we can take away in life from Ramayana and imbibe.
Producer-Director BR Chopra knew the art of storytelling at its best which was reflected very well in his production Mahabharata. Scripted by Pandit Narendra Sharma and the poet Rahi Masoom Raza, the historical epic Mahabharata is based on the original story by Ved Vyasa.
Mahabharta is a story of justice for the sake of a women’s dignity. Draupadi who was first a princess and then a would-be Queen of the Kaurava Dynasty and wife of Arjun and his five brothers, Pandavas, was disgraced by his 100 cousins, Kauravas in the middle of the court, while the Pandavas lost her to the game of dice, while Krishna comes to her rescue.
Mahabharata is a tale of the power and struggle between Kauravas and Pandavas leading them to the threshold of a war, while Lord Krishna steps in to control the situation. Most importantly, Mahabharta is the story of Truth and Goodness winning over Evil and crookedness, which can be achieved by the righteousness (Dharma) and deeds (Karma)which Krishna discloses to Arjun in the middle of the battlefield in the form of a narration which is called the Bhagavata Gita.
When the audiences saw B.R Chopra’s Mahabharata on the Indian television for the first time, they were spellbound with its script, narration, depiction, storytelling, characters, acting, dialogues, direction, costumes, grand royal palaces and battlefields.While,nothing was less than superlative, and seemed like a replica of the Mahabharata to have occurred in its actual era.
Gufi Paintal best known for his role as a crooked, Shakuni Mama did an incredible casting while selecting the characters in Mahabharata. Each character just seemed so real as played by every actor. Arjun was played by (Arjun aka Firoz Khan), Draupadi( Roopa Ganguly), Yudhishtar( Gajendra Chauhan), Duryodhan (Puneet Issar), Bhishma Pitama (Mukesh Khanna), Bheem (Praveen Kumar),amongst others.While,who can forget Nitish Bhardwaj playing the eloquently witty Krishna?
Both Ramayan and Mahabharta became massively popular not only from the early 80s, when they were first telecasted on Doordarshan,but also when they were re-telecasted on DD during the pandemic.This has recently prompted the national broadcaster to review the way its entertainment programs are chosen, so that people, yet again start preferring DD over private channels.