Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nostalgia updated

I was channel-surfing today, when I came across a programme on one of the news channels about public service messages that were telecast on Doordarshan ages ago. You folks may remember those too - there was one with many famous sportspersons carrying a lighted torch, and another one about Mahatma Gandhi, which showed his simpliciy through a line sketch. But my all-time favourite was "Mile sur mera tumhara" - sung in a bevy of languages. Today, while watching the video on the tube, I must say, I had goose-bumps. It is hard to believe that Doordarshan could come up with such a 'cool' video - simple, easy-to-understand, with no bombastic claims, and still conveying the central message of national integration.
The video was telecast for the 40th year of Independence, when Rajiv Gandhi in his "Naani yaad dilaadenge" mood went overboard with nationalistic sentiment.
What's funny is how much India has changed since then. Twenty years is a miniscule period of time for a civilization that has spanned 5000 years, but the amount of change that has happened in the last twenty years has clearly dwarfed those that happened over the preceding 4980 (to be mathematically accurate).
Would such a video be successful today? Will a honest-to-earth video like this one succeed in the pop-patriotic world of today? Let me know through the comments link :)
BTW, a few graduate students in MIT made a similar video in 2003 - view it here
Update - Listen to the original soundtracks at


H said...

yes, mile sur mera tumhaara was great and so were many programs which used to be telecast on Doordarshan.Since that was the only channel available, guess we used to relish on every program. I do'nt think the MTV-Channel V kids appreciate the simple programs of Doordarshan

kattricker said...

Getting ready for the independence spirit? BTW "Mile sur mera tumhara" was cast in raga "Sindhu Bhairavi" (I guess Hindustani folks use the same name, the scale is the same as its name-sake in carnatic). I remember one more on national integration "Bhaje sargam har taraf se" in "Desh" raag of course.
Coming to your question - I think if it truly has to reflect our culture as it is today, the video will probably include fusion music, technology and call centers, higher education etc among fading older tradition and culture perhaps in villages. Sadly, the times have changed, not all for the better - certainly Nostalgic!

Gops said...

Wouldn't it? We would have call centres, software, cars, and so many things that weren't a significant national presence in those days! And H is right - I don't think that the MTV-generation would appreciate such stuff!

naveen said...

DD of yesteryears produced many programs like 'Malgudi days', 'Swami and friends" and 'Bharat Ek Khoj', which were simple but yet remain deeply entrenched in my memory. I doubt if any of these programs will have a following if they were produced today.
But my take on the current pop culture is that it is passing fad. Here in the US, we have programmes about History, Fitness, Health and do-it-yourself taks which are produced by private channels and have considerable following. I expect that indians will develop a taste for these kinds of programs (which were once produced in DD) in course of time.

Gops said...


Yeah, you're right. The large number of viewing choices have meant a reduced attention span for each individual programme/channel. Lets hope that this pop-culture gets its desserts! :D