This week on the nostalgic 90s corner, we look at TV shows, the likes of which they don’t make anymore. What makes these 90s shows much better than what we see today? For one, they had extremely catchy title tracks. Here are 10 Indian Tv show stories, you should know about:
Dekh Bhai Dekh: We are pretty sure that you are tapping your feet to the Dekh Bhai Dekh title track. Boasting of a star cast made of industry giants, Dekh Bhai Dekh was produced by Jaya Bachchan under the banner of Saraswati Audio Visuals Pvt Ltd. The company later merged with Amitabh Bachchan Corporation. Aired in May 1993, the show ran till August 1994 with a total number of 65 episodes. It was a trendsetter for comedy in India.
Chandrakanta: Chandrakanta was a mega-budget fantasy serial, partially based on Devaki Nandan Khatri’s book called “Chandrakanta”. The show ran on Doordarshan’s DD National for nearly two years before it was controversially shut down in 1996. The producers of the serial moved to court to get a reinstatement for the serial. The serial was reinstated and aired again in 1999, also, enjoying huge popularity on channels like Star Plus and Sony Entertainment Television. It was created, written, produced and directed by Nirja Guleri who became the first woman to direct an epic film or serial on such a grand scale. Devaki Nandan Khatri’s grandson has, however, been the most outspoken critic of the serial, claiming that the production team had misrepresented several of Devaki Nandan Khatri’s concepts. After years, Chandrakanta was been re-made under Balaji Telefilms banner and aired on Colors. The show has been doing well on the TRP charts and it looks like it’s here to stay.
Hum Paanch: One harrowed man, five non-conforming daughters, the talking portrait of a dead wife and a second wife who surprisingly wasn’t a vamp. Unlike the uniform, the epitome of sanskaari naari we encounter in our Tv shows today, we had a diversity of personality types, living their day to day lives in a comedy of errors. Season 1 of the show was aired on Zee TV in 1995, under the production of Balaji Telefilms and ran till 1999. The second season of the show was launched in 2005 and saw the return of famous characters like Sweety Mathur and Kajal Bhai. The second season ran till 2006 and had 42 episodes. The third season of the show, Hum Paanch Phir Se, returned to Tv in June 2017 and airs on BIG Magic with a new cast and new producers but with so many competitors, the show is not receiving the limelight it’s preceding seasons enjoyed.
Malgudi Days: We are going to place a safe bet here and say that you are already humming Carnatic Musician L.Vaidyanathan’s under your breath “ta-na-na, ta-na-na-na”. The characters from R.K. Narayan’s works were brought to life by his cartoonist brother R.K. Lakshman and Kannada actor-director Shankar Nag. The first season of 39 episodes was made in 1986 with Shankar Nag as the lead actor and T.S. Narsimhan as producer. The show was launched on Doordarshan in, and then subsequently re-run on Doordarshan, Sony TV, and MAA television after being dubbed in Telugu. It was shot in different parts of Karnataka including Bengaluru. The show was revived in 2004 by Kavitha Lankesh, who replaced Shankar Nag as Director and launched in 2006 on Doordarshan. The show now has 54 episodes.
Raja aur Rancho: Byomkesh Bakshi, Karamchand, even Sam D’Silva may have been cool with their human side-kicks but nothing topped the coolness of a monkey side-kick. The show was aired on DD Metro between 1997- 1998. The episodes aired on a weekly basis with the detective duo solving a new case every week.
Surbhi: Surbhi was a cultural show hosted by Renuka Sahane and Siddharth Kak. Siddharth Kak’s production company, Cinema Vision India also produced the show. The show ran from 1990- 2001 with a year-long break in 1991. It initially aired on Doordarshan and later moved to the Sunday morning slot at Star Plus. The holds a distinction in being India’s largest cultural shows and holds a record on Limca Book of Records for receiving the largest measured audience response in Indian media history. An interesting fact about the show is that it held a quiz show every week and back then audiences responded using the postcards of Indian Post. According to Limca Book of Records, the show received the largest recorded response on Indian Television with over 1.4 million letters in a single week. This event forced the Indian Postal Service to launch “Competition Postcards” which were way more expensive than the previous postcards used. Siddharth Kak with assistance from the Ford Foundation established the Surbhi Foundation which focuses on preserving Indian Culture.
Chitrahaar: Chitrahaar literally means a garland of pictures. The show was music show showing clips of popular Bollywood songs. Chitrahaar was launched in 1960 and enjoyed wild popularity in India as well as abroad, especially in places like the Middle East and America, where people of Indian origin enjoyed Bollywood music. The show remained on DD, however with the advent of cable TV in 1990, the popularity of Chitrahaar in urban India dropped drastically. In 1997 Chitrahaar went back to a private producer, Amit Khanna of Plus Channel. In the subsequent year, Doordarshan and IIM Ahmedabad launched an initiative to promote literacy in villages through Chitrhaar by using Same Language Subtitling.
Shaktimaan: India’s Superman with a twist. Unlike Superman who was born on a different planet, Shaktimaan was born in India and is the reincarnation of a who lived during the Mahabharat age. Unlike Superman who had superhuman strength because of him being an alien, Shaktimaan got his superhuman strength through meditation and unlocking of the seven chakras. Shaktimaan was the epitome of truth, non-violence and the values stated in Bhagvata Gita. But just like Superman, Shaktiman’s alter ego Gangadhar works for a news channel, where he meets the love of his life Geeta Vishwas. The show ran from 1997 to 2005, it was initially aired on Doordarshan on Sundays at 12 noon but the later episodes were moved to 9:30 a.m. The show was also aired on Pogo in English, Taranga in Oriya, Chutti TV in Tamil, Kochu TV in Malayalam and STAR Utsav in Hindi. Mukesh Khanna, the lead actor as well as producer announced in 2016 that he will renew the show and reprise his role. The series also started a franchise on Shaktimaan.
Captain Vyom: Captain Vyom was the first and only successful Sci-fi series to be aired on Indian Television. The show aired on DD1 in 1998 at 10:00 a.m. every Sunday and received a huge fan following. The cost of production of this series with special effects being created by Maya Entertainment Limited was thrice the production cost of a television show back then. The show was directed by Ketan Mehta and starred by Milind Soman. This cult classic was so popular that Diamond Comics published a comic series under Captain Vyom’s name in English and several other Indian Languages. The story was re-run on SAB in 2008 and Milind Soman expressed his desire to star in season 2 of Captain Vyom. A remastered web series of Captain Vyom was uploaded on a Youtube channel called WOW TEENZ by Cosmos Maya.
Mahabharat: No nostalgia about 90s Tv shows could be complete without thinking of Mahabharat. Be it the song sung by Mahendra Kumar, with the dynamic recitation of slokas from Bhagvata Gita or “Main samay hoon” in Harsh Bhimani’s voice, the series again is a cult classic. Aired on DD National between 1988 to 1990, it was produced by B.R. Chopra, Directed by Ravi Chopra and written by Rahi Masoom Raza. It was aired in UK on BBC where it achieved an audience figure of 5 million. It became the first show to be broadcast on BBC2 after its revamp in 1991. The show was also aired on FBC TV in Fiji, Star Utsav, Sony Entertainment Television and Epic. The show was also dubbed in all major South Indian languages.