Born in 1980s (Part I) : Golden Era of Doordarshan

When talking about my childhood, first thing that comes into mind is Doordarshan, only a person born in the 80s will be able to relate to the impact it had on one’s life. Although now we may have 100s of channels and 100s of programs to watch. But nothing would ever be as close to what Doordarshan offered at that time. It was a total entertainer, with programs for the entire family to watch together. It played a important part in the fun-family-time.

Anyone born in the 80s would remember how the television era began and what was it like to watch a show on TV.

Firstly, in those days having a TV was a big deal, a real BIG deal. Forget a 50inch LED TV or a Huge Home theater, those days having a 12 inch color TV made you the talk of the town.

Watching a TV program was like a picnic. All friends would gather together to watch a certain program.

I distinctly remember watching Ramayana and Mahabharata. Whoa that was epic… No. I am not calling the series epic, which certainly was, but the way it was watched truly was.

We lived in an irrigation colony (colony: another near extinct aspect of our social lives), which basically comprised of the small houses or quarters provided for employees of State Irrigation department. My father bought one of the first color TVs in the locality and it made us the stars of the colony over night. Since my parents had a very active social life, lot of people were aware of our pride possession 🙂


It was the time when Ramananda Sagar’s Ramayana started on Doordarshan (needless to say Doordarshan was the only TV channel that time). Don’t know if the present generation is even aware of such a channel anymore. On an average we had at-least 25-30 people watching it on a given day. It was like we owned a mini cinema hall… there used be incessant chitter-chatter in the hall but as soon as the introductory music of Ramayana started, there would be pin drop silence. And there always is someone who would shout of a loud “Raghupaty Ramachandra ki” followed by a “jai” from the crowd.

As much as we enjoyed watching the program we loved the stories and interpretation all the elders gave us after it. It was like a teaching technique they used to educate us about one of the most important works in Hindu mythology. Since it was the first ever series on Ramayana many people thought the actors playing the characters were really God!! Arun Govil, actor who played Ram, in one of his public appearances had to face a crowd of people who believed him to be Lord Ram, people touched his feet, offered him garlands and what not.

But, Ramayana is just a part of the memories I cherish about that era. There were many TV program that were part ‘family-time’ of every house hold viz.


Mahabharata: one of the most big budget shows. It was enthralling to watch. The costumes, the sets, the accurate depiction. We used to have Ramayana and Mahabharata as additional reading for Hindi in school (KV does that to you :P), and these shows helped a lot. I dont remember any one flunking in these two..

Surabhi: proved that a documentary can be so interesting and fun. It may be the presentation of Siddhartha Kak or the sweet smile of Renuka Shaney. Surabhi was the reason for us to brush up our GK at that time, so that we can flaunt what we know in school.

Rangoli (with Hemamalini): although I religiously follow waking-up-at-10 AM on Sundays now. Those days we used to wake up early to watch Rangoli. Specially in cold winter mornings, all of us cuddling together under our quilts and enjoying the hindi melodies..

Byomkesh Bakshi and Tehikikat: needless to say these were the ‘Father’s Fav’. As interesting as they were they did a provide us huge platform for us to have fun father daughter times 🙂

Malgudi days: its still is my favorite show… None can beat that. Ever.

Flop show: now that was a Sardar who can take a good joke. If am correct it was the first sitcom ever on Indian television. He started the satirical comedy. And still has the top spot. R.I.P. Jaspal Bhatti..


Chankya and Bharat ek khoj: at the very outset, these weren’t shows a kid would typically watch. But we were made to watch it if we wanted to watch any other show of our choice. Parents! They can appear to be cruel at times. But cant complain, again these helped me get some real good scores in my History tests.

All these programs had a certain charm about them. They were well researched and well presented. We were always thrilled about watching TV. Adjusting the ‘Antenna’ to get a clear picture, shushing every one around :P. Oh how I miss those days. Even watching the news was so exciting. I distinctly remember Salma Sultan. Ohh, I dreamt of being her when I grow up. Her excellent presentation and the unforgettable flower near her ear. News used to be very very sophisticated and classy those days, no offense to the present news presenters.


And it wasnt the TV shows alone, even the commercials were special.

Lijjat papad : Karram Kurram, mazedaar lizzatdaar, swaad swaad me lijjat papad

Bajaj Bulbs: Jab main chota baccha tha, badi shararat karta tha, meri chori pakdi jati, kyunki roshni deta Bajaj………

Amul Milk: Doodh doodh doodh doodh doodh hai wonderful, Pi sakte ho roz a glassful, Doodh doodh doodh doodh doodh, wonderful doodh…..

Bajaj Scooters (one of my favs ): Buland Bharat ki buland tasveer, hamara Bajaj, hamara Bajaj…..

Lifebouy soaps: Tandurusti ki raksha karta hai lifebouy, lifebouy hai jahan tandurusti hai wahan, lifebouy..

Nirma washing powder: Dhoodh si safedi nirma se aaye, rangeen kapda bhi khil khil jaye, sabki pasand nirma, washing powder nirma, Nirma….

Vicco turmeric Cream: Vicco turmeric nahi cosmetic, vicco turmeric ayurvedic cream…

Gold Spot (another extinct thing): Gold spot the zing thing, gold spot gold spot

Zandu balm: zandu balm zandu balm, peeda haari balm….

ECE Bulbs: Sanya bhooll na jaana , ECE bulb hi laana, dino din chalne wala, ECE bulb lana…

Vicks cough drops: vicks ki goli lo, khich khich door karo

Saridon: Sirf ek saridon aur sardard se aaram…

I can keep going on with list…

I guess what am trying to say is, that period, or rather that Era was something that still crystal clear in my memory. And that something on a person born in 80s would understand. There might be loads of hi-tech shows and sources of entertainment, but nothing would beat the thrill of watching Doordarshan in 1980s..