By Sreyashi Mazumdar
Empty alleys, scorching sun, and people thronging before the televisions sets with a conch’s blow marked the beginning of Mahabharat’s episode number 62. Well, one might get befuddled as to what does the aforementioned portrayal hint at; however, let me clear the air. If you are a 90s kid and your Sundays started off with BR Chopra’s Mahabharat when the clock ticked 12, you might get an inkling of what I intend to talk of.
Indian television might have taken a gargantuan leap within a span of 20 odd years. However on reminiscing those days when the newly-found colored television sets would have knocked at our doors, and cult daily soaps like Mahabharat, Ramayan, Shaktiman and Mowgli exuded balminess and fondness.
Shaktiman was one of the most popular Indian superheroes, captivating every toddler’s mind. The blaring golden star right at the centre of the marooned costume and the makeshift eddying of the superhero were not only the most jaw-dropping excerpts of the entire series but also two of the most emulated expressions. “At that age, it was an insight into a superhero’s world. He was my role model. There was this constant excitement to watch it because it was about an alternative human and not a normal human being and though it is mocked widely, it is a reminder of my childhood days,” shared Ishani Roy, with a broad smile and a glow that gradually surfaced on her face.
Jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai..
chaddhi pehen ke phool khila hai phool khila hai…
A lanky little boy with a tattered underwear and unkempt hair loitering around a humongous stretch of forest with lions and bears and a bewitching tune in the background precisely limns the episodes of the Jungle Book. “My father used to address me as Mowgli because of the hair cut I had. Jungle Book was like a ritual for me. I made sure that I tuned in to Mowgli every Sunday after a toothsome breakfast. I used to gleefully croon away to the title track…I do it even now at times,” recollected Tulika Mazumdar, a 21-year-old undergraduate from MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore.
Paging through the long lost memories of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and BR Chopra’s Mahabharat, one might get erratic flashes of actors like Arun Govil and Gajendra Chahuhan. They donned gaudy attires and their faces fleshed out overt expressions. Indian television was still in it’s nascent stage with epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana or even Krishna for that matter kicking off a furore across the country. Climatic wars, larger than life sets and resounding dialogues were some of the most common elements typical of these epic dramas, establishing the archetypes of Indian television in a way. “Our entire family used to take to one huge sofa and gawk at the television set without any distractions hindering us,” said Nupur Chatterjee, a computer engineer from Bangalore.
Though these series have exhausted their shelf lives, they continue to amuse us till this date, leaving behind a soothing stint of recollection.