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Reminiscing the good old days of Doordarshan…

Ads and serials have become a part and parcel of our lives ever since the idiot box attained a permanent membership in our houses. The advent of satellite T.V. made sure the theory of evolution applied to the serials and commercials, throwing the Doordarshan era into an endangered (or almost extinct for most of us) zone . I am from the generation that evolved from that era to the present one. And, I am not opposed to the satellite channels for it has presented our generation with unlimited choice for entertainment. But there are times when I wistfully reminisce about the good old days.

Back then, the serials had a definite end to them. No never-ending, tear-jerking soap operas where the dead come back alive years later with plastic-surgeries done. No repeating, mix-matching or horribly messing up of plots. Vamps did not sport a scary and gory bindi with equally-matching jewellery and outfit. The camera did not freeze onto the faces of the 50-odd members of a typical household to capture their reaction to a death-spelling punch dialogue from the baddie. No hair-raising or heart-wrenching background music accompanied every single event in life. The important events-birth, marriage or death-were not portrayed to the minutest detail leaving the viewers completely exhausted.

The story-lines had depth, meaning and the duration lasted no longer than 13 or max 26 episodes. Buniyaad and Hum-log were considered mega-serials back then. Who can forget the rib-tickling comedies like Yeh jo hai Zindagi (starring Satish Shah and Swaroop Sampat), Ulta-pulta (Jaspal Bhatti’s brain child) and Wagle ki duniya. As children, we would wait for Sunday to tune in to our favourite cartoon series beginning with Mickey and Donald, He-man, Giant-Robot, Ramayana even. The Saturday evening Hindi films and Sunday afternoon regional films were much eagerly awaited ones as they were the only times we got to view them. The 9 p.m. serial would begin after the mandatory news and then the programme-reporter would announce the list of programmes. We would wait with bated breath to hear “agli kadi” (next episode) as opposed to “akhri kadi” (last episodes) for our favourite serials.

When we talk of serials can the advertisements be left behind? Back in the good old Doordarshan days, there were no commercial breaks between the serials. There used to be a separate slot for them before the programme began. Nevertheless, we would love to watch them. The commercials, as they are now called, were not hammered into our brains every 10 minutes into a serial or a movie not only breaking the continuity of the show but also interest of the viewers. Ads or commercials have come a long (in a good form) way. There were a good number of great commercials even then. The “Lalitaji” ad, “Prestige-cooker” ad, “jab main chota ladka tha, badi sharat karta tha- Bajaj bulb” ad or “chal meri Luna” ad, each one holds fond memories of yester years. Who can forget the famous Fevicol ad that starred Raju Hirani? Even so, commercials of today, to a large extent(barring the fairness ads that grates on one's nerves), have kept pace with the current trend of being fast-paced, ever-evolving and creative.

The face of the world is changing so rapidly that the gap between two generations is rapidly closing. Every two years, a new generation seems to take birth. When my father, an ardent fan of the black& white movies, especially the likes of Guru Dutt and Dilip Kumar, would remark,”kahan gaye wo din?” I would say, “Oh! How can you watch the painfully slow- paced movies, where one actor takes eternity to respond to the other person?” Ironically, here I am reminiscing about DD days. If you do not change with time, you become an antique piece only to be appreciated in a museum. DD met the same fate for not keeping in tune with changing times. But that does not take away its past glory. Here is to when old DD was really gold. Cheers!

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*** Written for a prompt at