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Doordarshan: A Retrospect

By Vasundhara Goyal

Unlike most of my friends and relatives, I grew up watching Doordarshan TV serials. Obviously my parents thought cable channels were a bad influence on society and to impede me and my brother from wasting our valuable time on soap operas, they decided that it was better to feed us a few Holly-Bolly DVDs every month. They figured it beats trying to stomach a badgering family drama sequel every half an hour and doing away with our studies. With time, the craving for cable TV dwindled. Initially there was DD1 and DD2 which later on became DD National and DD Metro. I didn’t find it difficult to get used to Doordarshan programmes.
For those who were born in late 80's and early 90's, Doordarshan has a special place in their heart. Those were the times we got up early morning to watch He-ManChandrakantaDanuAlice in Wonderland and Mogli (Jungle Book). We stayed up very late to watch ShaktimanAlif Laila and Reporter. My favourite commercial of Dhara Cooking oil that featured Parzaan Dastur as a small boy who runs away from home, but returns on time to grab the hot jalebis his mother made to lure him back, gave way to my craving for jalebis every Sunday. Till date, I cannot start my Sunday without them. A few years later DD Metro was abruptly shut down and we were left with DD National only. Some of the shows were Re-telecast on DD National and another channel, DD News was introduced.

Indian television has seen two eras, a Doordarshan Era and a Post Doordarshan Era. The Post Doordarshan Era is of less significance to me as I was in my early teens when the cable connection at my dwelling was dropped. I grew up watching Tarang in the afternoons when my Mom was asleep. Three movies a week on Friday-Saturday-Sunday with Bioscope showing a movie in parts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday being the icing on the cake. Those myriad letters read on Bioscope made me wonder how in this Post Doordarshan Era, there are so many spectators who not only watch but have the time and interest to send so many letters one after the other. I personally felt, watching Doordarshan, (when everyone else was watching Roadies and Splitsvilla on MTV) was an obligation for me. It was probably a better option compared to watching James Bond movies over and over again.

Fauji, a TV series on Indian Army was aired in the year 1988 with the lead role played by Shahrukh Khan (who was then शाह रुख  खान). His television début was Dil Darya and he also had recurring roles on CircusUmeed and a few more.  Doordarshan has launched many a leading actor, but now it is on a downward spiral. Doordarshan has lost its charm in the pursuit of meeting industry benchmarks set by the likes of Sony, Starplus and ZeeTV. Once in a blue moon, I pamper my eyes with Dish TV and Tata Sky transmissions at my friend's place, but all I just do is keep switching channels until I get bored, pick up a paper and start writing. 80's and 90's was the time when a single channel educated, informed and entertained with its Sunday spree. I just couldn't afford to miss my weekend feast. What I had seen in my childhood was certainly a class apart. The erstwhile gamut of Fauji, Buniyaad, Nukkad, Ye Jo Hai Zindagi, Shrimaan Shrimati, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Udaan, Aarohan and my favourite cartoons Talespin and Duck Tales that accounted for my daily bread and butter of entertainment are now history.

 It’s almost 5-6 years from the time I had started preparing for IITJEE; I have lost touch with DD’s programmes and telefilms. At times I go through some of the old videos of Malgudi Days andTimba Roocha (a series portraying a friendly ghost and the moral stories he narrates), uploaded on Youtube. No one can forget the quintessential Indian song "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara" that was aired first on Doordarshan. I have a valuable collection of old DD TV series (Bharat ek Khoj, UdaanDekh Bhai DekhVikram Aur Betaal and my next one about to arrive, Alif Laila) that I have been collecting for the past 2 years. I reminisce watching Aarohan, starring Pallavi Joshi, her struggle through Naval Training and Udaan featuring Kavita Chaudhary as an IPS officer which made me take up NCC in college. Byomkesh Bakshi and Tehkikaat were some intelligent detective series with unpredictable plots and solutions. Till date whenever I read Sherlock Holmes, I can think of only Rajit Kapoor in his boots with K.K.Raina in the guise of Dr.Watson. I got my passion of reading psychology books and silently reading people's gestures from Sam D' Sylva (Vijay Anand).

A recent Advertisement of Aamir Khan's new production 'Satyamev Jayate' (another TV series that was on DD) has renewed my interest in Television. I am so looking forward to watch it. I wish this new serial brings back the lost dignity of DD.


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