A stray conversation with A led to this post . A was probably knee high when these serials were aired but that didn't stop her from nodding along in cyberspace with me !
In the mid eighties Doordarshan pioneeered Hindi serials with India's first social content soap opera, Hum Log . Hum Log followed the trials, tribulations and the everyday life of a normal family. It had terrific performances by Vinod Nagpal and Sushma Seth among others Written by Manohar Shyam Joshi , it created a massive impact on television audiences .
It dealt with numerous social issues like dowry , the status of women ,alcoholism . At the end of each episode Ashok Kumar summarised the episode in the context of the social issues which were explored .. At the end of every episode, appropriate guides for community and individual action were provided in a summary by a famous actor.
Then there was Buniyaad in 1986, directed by Ramesh Sippy which was about the trials and tribulations of a family displaced from Pakistan during the Partition. Haveliram , Lajoji and their progeny became a part of the great Indian TV watching family as they sat on the floor , perched on chairs and sighed and clapped their way through the serial . It starred Alok Nath ( where is he ?), VijayendraGhatge with his brooding sardonic Mills and Boon looks , Veerawali - Kiran Juneja, Dalip Tahil , then less leonine but viallainous, nevertheless with his posh wife Soni Razdan ruled the small screen .
Weekdays were mapped with these serials because they not aired every day - weekends meant a potpourri of so many serials in the morning. Mahabaharata , Bharat Ek Khoj by ShyamBenegal which was a phenomenal serial based on Nehru's Discovery Of India - talking points were the lavish costums of the commercial Mahabharata vis a vis the realistic costumes that Benegal used for his serial .
There was Karamchand Pankaj Kapoor with his famous byline "Kitty dont be silly" ,and his carrots and the theme Karamchaaaaaaaaaaaaand !And please don't forget a very young green around the ears Shahrukh Khan in Circus and Fauji.
Oops how could I forget Khandaan - we'd hang over the balcony in our hostel , peering into the neighbour's house where the television was angled towards us ,sighing over rich bitch Neena Gupta's ishtyle as she rode roughshod over the other characters .It also starred Neena Gupta, Dr. Shreeram Lagoo, Mohan Bhandari, Jayant Kripalani.
Oh and there was Aziz Mirza's Nukkad which followed the misadventures of a group of layabouts who congregated at the corner of the street . Vikram and Vetaal and Dada Daadi ki khananiyan which were viewed when the nephews came to visit .
And who can forget Tamas ,writen by Bhisham Sahni and directed by Govind Nihalani , which was aired over , I think 3 Saturdays - spine chilling with of course terrific performances from Naseerunddin Shah and Deepa Sahi.
In the middle of the programmes when the link was disturbed a board would pop up with "Rukavat ke liye khed hai" - so one would have to sit twisting one's fingers till the link was restored .
Sigh ...life was much simpler then .No fights over the remote , no channel surfing, no horrendous soaps from the Ekta Kapoor stable , no saas bahu serials , no machinations, few villains .. hell how did we pass our time ???
Okay - we read and read and read , we watched movies every Saturday at the Ice Skating rinkand at movie halls , we loafed endlessly , we visited , secure in the knowledge that we would not be responsible for encroachments on people's viewing time , cricket was not a daily routine like cooking or bodily functions , we went for long drives in our second hand Fiat with baby Tupu asleep in my lap , we also ate phuchkas , Tupu perched on AG's shoulders , holding on to his hair firmly with fat little fists and watching us with beady eyes . We were so stupid, naive and unaware of social issues , the world around us , IPL.IPCL , 24/7 news - in fact we waited for the news till the next morning 's paper and all the cooking we knew came from cookbooks, our moms' kitchens and for reluctant young wives like me , the mother in law's kitchen . In fact till Jiggs Kalra waffled thru his moustache on Sunday morning TV , I didnt know what a chef's hat looked like ...