Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Growing up in socialist India - 1: Television

Recently, I came across a MIT student video of the song "Mile sur mera tumhara", which took me back in time to the glory days of socialist India. Now that most of my colleagues grew up in what became "pseudo-capitalist" (or pseudo-socialist, for those appropriately inclined) India, I thought it'll be nice to recall some of the things of the "good old days".

Now, my family was a middle-class one - which meant that my folks probably had enough money to send my brother and me to school, and they probably had spare cash for buying a bicycle, but it also meant that I had to go on hunger strikes to get a TV in the house. Yes, our first TV, installed on 24th June, 1984 was a result of my weeklong hunger strike (during which I got ample servings of non-food items). And what could you watch on it? Well, there was the eternal favourites - Mahabharat and Ramayan, and kids had He-Man, Giant Robot, and an assorted set of cartoons. Adults watched "Yeh jo hai zindagi", "Hum log" and "Buniyaad" - which to my mind were totally wierdo serials.

But what was unique to the socialist experience were films created by Films Division of India on national integration. Most of them (except those created by Louis Banks - Mile sur, and Bhaje sargam to name two) were crap. The animations sucked, the voice-overs were terrible, and each of them had this preachy tone that was so representative of the governments of that time.

Of all the serials I watched on the tube then, the one that still remains in memory is "Oshin". This must have been the most heart-rending serial I've ever seen.

Anyway, more info about such shows here: Do write in about your favourites.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gopi

You made me remember one of my favorite serials on Tv Oshin


Anonymous said...

i also rmembr ome english serial with parveen dabas, something about the sky ?? but all said and done, the serials shaped a generation and if i may say they were shaped a hell of a lot better than the generation watching sex and the city, freinds, etc!!!!