Life in 90s was simple yet so heart-warming and memorable. While there were many technology advancements that were missing in that era, still that time holds extra-ordinary place in our hearts. One of the major things synonymous with that era is Doordarshan – the Indian TV channel that was much more progressive than the junk television channels of today. What made Doordarshan so special was the fact that it wasn’t driven by numbers or ratings but by quality.
In today’s numbers-driven market, privately owned TV channels may have conquered the top spots but reality is that they can never be at par with the kind of shows Doordarshan streamed during 90s. Though we didn’t have too many options back then, but Doordarshan made sure that we have good quality shows that inspire, entertain and educate the audience.
While today’s channels may resort to regressive, sexist, saas-bahu drama for numbers, Doordarshan never left a stone unturned in giving us progressive shows that aimed to improve the society’s DNA. Though Doordarshan might not have played TRP game but it still knew what its audience wanted. From inspiring family dramas to women-centric content to sci-fi thrillers to educational and informative shows, Doordarshan had some great iconic shows for its audience. Let’s take a look at the wide diverse range of Doordarshan’s shows that made 90s so memorable:
The Family Dramas
Much more Ekta Kapoor’s saas-bahu melodrama conquered the TV screens, Doordarshan showed us a world of family drama that was beyond ‘saas-bahu dynamics’.
Written by Shobha De, Swabhimaan, was a story of the powerplay between the son of the deceased industrialist and his now-estranged mistress. Do you know Swabhimaan brought actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Ashutosh Rana to the mainstream?
Starring Priya Tendulkar in the lead role, Rajani showcased how a housewife deals with the everyday problems that most people encounter, such as school admissions, the attitude of taxi drivers, etc. In short, it was the female counterpart to the famous Office Office, especially with its focus on lax government officials. Rajani was a much needed hero Indians could relate to back then.
Starring Mandira Bedi in the protagonist role, the show revolved around Shanti, an aspiring journalist who tries to make it in a world dominated by men. But, what made it extremely engaging was its nuanced portrayal of a woman who faces challenges head-on, both in her personal and professional life.
The satire in Jaspal Bhatti’s flop show is still relevant three decades later. The show revolved around day to day problems of the common man in satirical ways. It was impossible to watch this commentary without a laugh!
Period Dramas: Doordarshan also offered some epic shows based on Indian history
The Sword of Tipu Sultan
Akbar the Great
Based on the life of the famous Indian economist, strategist and political theorist Chanakya (also known as Vishnugupta), this show was one of the favourites of all time.
Childhood Treasure: Best Kids’ Shows Ever
90s kids may not have access to OTT, but thanks to Doordarshan they had access to some of the most amazing kids shows.
Every 90s Indian kid would be able to identify the theme song of DuckTales – ‘Zindagi Toofani Hai’ even if they are deep asleep. We still remember the Hindi voiceover of Uncle Scrooge and his naughty nephews – Huey, Dewey and Louie. Though the nephews were naughty they always managed to save their uncle from dangerous elements!
Like all the other genres, Doordashan didn’t disappoint its audience and gave us some really good detective thrillers.
Shows about our Armed Forces
Doordarshan also knew how to present stories related to our men in uniform.
Param Vir Chakra
One of SRK’s most iconic small screen roles was that of Abhimanyu Rai, a soldier undergoing commando training.
Really good quality science fiction too
Unlike today’s channels, Doordarshan offered some really good sci-fi show:
Space City Sigma
And, how can we forget epic fantasy shows
Doordarshan gave us some epic fantasy shows that weren’t about Icchadhari Naagin with sasural issues.
And, how can we forget about the great Mahabharat and Ramayan.
Doordarshan also offered some amazing music based programmes that we could sing along to
Sunday mornings would start with vintage Bollywood songs on Rangoli. There was no argument there.
Meri Awaaz Suno
Before American Idol, Sa Re Ga Ma or The Voice, there was Meri Awaz Suno. Anu Kapoor hosted this beautiful show that attracted singing talent from all across the country. Guess who won the first season? A kid named Sunidhi Chauhan. Yep, that’s her in the picture below.
And some decent informative non-fiction shows too
Bharat Ek Khoj
Surabhi was one of the most brilliant shows in the history of Indian television. This epic show took the entire country by surprise. Never had I seen so many letters in one TV show.
When it comes to quality show, today’s channels should seek inspiration from Doordarshan. With its progressive TV programmes, Doordarshan definitely left a positive impact not only on the society but also on our childhood! We hope today’s degrading TV channels will seek inspiration from Doordarshan and offers the quality shows that their audience deserve!