doordarshan days

doordarshanIn those good old days of Doordarshan raj, I never had a fight with my wife for the remote, it being still a remote possibility when I had my first TV.  Otherwise also you could not fight as there was no alternate channel to switch to.

While watching the Bengali Movie Dhananjoy (with subtitles) a few days back, I was reminded of the Doordarshan Days when one of my favourite programs was the telecast of regional movies with subtitles. These movies, though not popular, were high on the cinematic art.

Ironically, the first Doordarshan telecast that I watched was the live coverage of the final journey of our Late PM Indira Gandhi. A TV station had started functioning in Berhampur a few months back. The college hostel where I was staying did not have TV. In front of our college hostel were the staff quarters of Berhampur’s only Government women’s college. A staff member who had a TV was generous enough to allow us to witness the telecast. I was lucky enough to be inside the drawing room through a connection while many of my hostel mates were jostling outside the door and the windows to catch a glimpse. It was 1984.

Subsequently our hostel got a TV set. But it was not untill I got married and had my own TV that I became a DD convert. From college Days till the days of bachelorhood in Indian Air Force the only serials I remember watching regularly were Ramayana and Mahabharat, which were of course hugely popular in those days.

Whatever becomes scarce or does not happen frequently, becomes fascinating. Thus was the case with the weekly feature films or, chitrahaar – the half hour show of film songs telecast twice a week.

malgudi days.jpgApart from the regional films, the serial Chanakya was one program that I eagerly waited to watch every weekend. Some of the other programs of my interest, as far as I remember,  were: Jaspal Bhati’s Flop Show, Malgudi Days, Zaban Sambhal ke, Bharat Ek Khoj, Tamas, World This Week,  Karamchand and programs on classical/folk  music & dance.

Even after the availability of a plethora of channels, I have not lost touch with DD. It is only on DD that one may get to watch programs on Indian classical dance and music. Some of the programs on DD Bharati, DD India and DD Kishan are quite interesting. If you want a wrap up of the important events of the day, I think DD news is still the best. On DD channels you may get to watch a lot of documentaries of interesting people and places. Some of these programs are far better than those shown on National Geographic.

Here I would like to make a special mention of a film that I watched on DD.  It was Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisala’. Later on I learnt that the film was a remake of an award winning English movie Twelve Angry Men. The movie is about the deliberations of a jury constituted to decide whether a nineteen year old should be pronounced guilty for killing his father. Eleven members of the jury are in a hurry to vote ‘guilty’ while there is a lone dissenter who succeeds at the end, in convincing the jury, after a lot of patient persuasions that they should not take decision based on popular opinion, or personal biases.

In my previous post, based on a couple of movies, I have touched upon the issue of fair trail that happens only in the world of fiction. Ek ruka hua faisala is one more such movie. But, it is an eye opener, provided the people who take such decisions watch and learn from this movie. In addition to immaculate direction, superb performance of all the actors in the movie (Pankaj Kapur, Annu Kapur, Aziz Kureshi to name a few) created such an impression in my mind that I remember the movie vividly even after three decades.

ek ruka hua faisala.jpg





25 thoughts on “doordarshan days

  1. I enjoyed the play on the word ‘remote’. Those were simpler times, and I too remember much too fondly the ‘Malgudi Days’ and the unforgettable strain of flute in its theme song, the inimitable Mahabharat and the veritable curfew that it caused on the roads…. They still make good, original movies in vernacular tongues but the television has sold its soul to the mafia, TRP and moolah. Perhaps it is symbolic of our decadent times.

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  2. Though I have somehow failed to watch the film “Ek Ruka Rua Faisala,” I have watched the classic film “Twelve Angry Men.” It’s a film that has innumerable twists and turns that can make the entire experience thrilling. As rightly mentioned by you in the article, there are no two opinions of the fact that Doordarshan holds a special place in our memories. I simply can’t grow out of Malgudi Days, Udaan, Vartmaan, etc. Those were the simple and innocent days.

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  3. Wonderful reding about the Doordarshan days. I felt nostalgic and remembered the melodious tunes which came at the start of “Malgudi days”. Thought times have changed and we are exposed to the world through the television, but the serials of these yesteryears were far more progressive than the ones being shown today. I just can’t stop feeling apalled and disgusted with the kind of Nagin, Saas bahu sagas being dished out for almost twenty years now!

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  4. Aah, sir, you have touched upon one of my most favourite topics – the Doordarshan days.. this post has now filled me up with pure nostalgia… and I can relate to those days and the programmes that you have mentioned, me being an eighties child. I was probably in UKG or the first standard. We used to live in the govt quarters, we were on the ground floor and we were the only one to have a TV set in the building. It used to be so much joyful time with our neighbours coming from the top floor and on our adjacent flat – we would all watch together. And like you mentioned, Ramayana and Mahabharat were the most popular ones those days. Apart from those two, Chitrahaar on wednesday and Friday evening, Rangoli on Sunday morning followed by Rajni, Wagle ki Duniya, Udaan, Hum Log, Buniyaad, the Hindi movie on the Sunday evening were everybody’s favourite ones when we all would get together and used to have a picnic sort of atmosphere every week. The ladies of the families would finish up all house chores and we would all get together for our favourite programme. Our drawing room wasn’t that big and still we would somehow managae to make space for everyone of us.
    Katha Sagar,
    For us kids, Karamchand on Saturday (afternoon at around 3:30 perhaps), Spiderman on Sunday, He Man, Ek Do Teen Char (a detective serial having 4 kids as the protagonists), Street Hawk and Malgudi Days were our favourites. Later on, I became fond of Bharat Ek Khoj, Tenali Rama, Phir Wahi Talaash, Mr. Yogi, Mungeri Lal ke Hasaeen Sapne, Kiley Ka Rahasya, Surabhi, The World This Week, Tu Tu Main Main, Byomkesh Bakshi, Junoon and Tehqiqaat.
    Those days when I was still in the primary class, I wasn’t that fond of the regional movie that used to be shown during the Sunday afternoon, in fact I used to pray for it to end as soon as possible, so that our Hindi movie would then start in the evening 😀 But as I put on years, I started loving those regional movies too.
    It was not until I completed my 10th grade did my parents allow to get he cable connection. So Doordarshan was our only mode of TV entertainment and we use to enjoy those programmes so so much.

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  5. You took me back to those days of Ramayana and Mahabharata. I used to watch all of them unfailingly. Luckily on YouTube you can find flop show, Shreeman shreemati and Byomkesh Bakshi . I still watch them while eating dinner. They remind of days when watching TV was a luxury that could be availed only after doing all the school homework.

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  6. Indeed, Doordarshan made a valiant effort to provide some quality. It is important to see programs/cinema from all the regions of India and from around the world. You are so right that quality has now taken a back seat.


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