Sunday, May 6, 2012

That '90s Show


We just have one TV in our house. It’s been kept over a trolley, bought for the same purpose, in my parents’ bedroom. It’s the same TV that my nani gave as one of the wedding gifts to my newly wedded parents back in 1989. Dowry sounds like a bad word. So yes, it was a wedding gift. My dad didn’t ask for a TV, so don’t call it dowry. Or I guess it still is “dahej ka TV”. Well, nevermind.

It’s a grey TV with a convex screen. In simpler words, it’s not as flat as the rotis that your mum makes. The dahej ka TV has been with us for almost 23 years now. It still is in perfect working condition. Originally, it had only 15 channels, but later we got some machinery upgraded and it now shows up to 90 channels. The brand name that shines a little above its chin is Bush. And call it a coincidence if you wish to, but no one cares about this name in the world anymore. Out of sight; out of mind.

A month back, my dad suggested that we buy a new TV, complete with a home theatre system, et al. Considering the time that all of us spend at the office every day, I knew that it wasn’t really the need for a better TV that brought the idea into his head, but a feeling of not having felt Punjabi enough in front of guests in the past few months.

We don’t really watch TV. I don’t think people find the time to watch TV these days. I rather find something entertaining to watch or read on the internet than waste time clicking buttons on a plastic case that induced fascination among people back in the 1990’s.

So yes, I believe TV’s have become a thing of the past. The 1990’s can be called the Golden Age of television, when the TV brought together family members to spend time with each other during dinner every night. The decade of the 1990’s brought a whole new meaning to cable television in India. With Zee TV, Star Plus, Sony, Cartoon Network and Star Movies being the most watched channels after Doordarshan, cable television had become a very integral part of our lives.

We all remember the great dancers, writers, poets, singers and other entertainers who we have just heard about and not seen in real life. It’ll be unfair to not remember the shows that defined the Golden Age of television and entertained our families through at least an eighth of our lives. No matter how undeserving a few of the following names may sound to you, don’t forget that even Om Shanti Om bagged a couple of Filmfares in the year of its release.

The Most Memorable Hindi Sitcom: Hum Paanch

Ashok Saraf as Anand Mathur and his 5 daughters would visit us every week with half an hour of incessant recorded laughs played in the background. Anand’s first wife, played by the hung-on-a-photo-frame Priya Tendulkar, would pass wisecracks like googlies through the twenty-one minutes of an episode’s recording. We all still remember the way Sweety would break into a bollywood number every time that the door bell rang, and her ambition of becoming a Miss India and marrying Shahrukh Khan.

I agree that Hum Paanch was one of the lamest sitcoms I have ever made myself sit through (assuming SAB TV to be inexistent till date), but it was the first show that actually brought recognition to Balaji Telefilms and made me go, “Arrey yeh toh Hum Paanch wala logo hai” when an episode of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi ended a decade later.

I’m sure my friend Vidya Balan would be in agreement with me on calling the show one of the most memorable series of 1990’s television. Of what I remember, she got her break in the industry with her role as Radhika, the deaf daughter of Anand Mathur.

Hum Paanch ko no less than paanch mein se paanch.

The Most Memorable English Sitcom: Small Wonder

The 1990’s wasn’t really the time for English shows to enter the Indian industry. I remember episodes of Dennis the Menace, The Three Stooges and Bewitched being aired on Sony way back in 1995, but none of them were any kind of competition to Small Wonder. Vicki, Jamie and Harriet were friends whom I used to love meeting every evening when dadi would give me a glass of milk. I know it sounds cheesy, but there was never a show more dearly to me than Small Wonder. The show made us all try to stick an electric plug up our armpits on seeing how Vicki would plug the vacuum cleaner or the electric iron to it. We don’t just remember the show for Harriet’s annoying love for Jamie and Vicki’s robot voice, but also for at least one kiss that Mr. & Mrs. Lawson would share in each episode.

Star Plus tried to bring the magic back with Karishma ka Karishma in the mid-2000’s, but like I said, nothing beats the television industry of the 1990’s.

The Most Memorable Cartoon Show: Duck Tales

Cartoon Network came to India and became a hit with the kids in the 1990’s. Hannah-Barbera have given the world some of the most loved cartoon characters, but the uniqueness of Disney has always remained unmatched. Duck Tales and Talespin were two cartoon shows that used to air on Doordarshan for the whole country to enjoy. Its access wasn’t limited to just the urban elite with a cable connection in their house. It was heartwarming to see how Donald Duck’s presence was multiplied and to-the-power-ofied by the show. Huey, Dewey, Louie, Uncle Scrooge, Launchpad McQuack, the Beagle Boys and the Lucky Coin are still fresh in all of our memories. The show would make us smile like Uncle Scrooge during his swimming sessions in his “teh-khaana”.

Baloo, Ked, Madam Mahalingam, Louis and Pantar used to look equally adorable in front of Higher for Hire’s yellow air-plane, but Duck Tales scores a point higher. Blame it on our love for ducks. Quack.

The Most Memorable Superhero: Shaktimaan

Pandit Gangadhar Vidyadhar Mayadhar Omkarnath Shastri’s geeky glasses and buck teeth personality would turn into a middle-aged, black dyed hair, Punjabi looking, non-dubbed hindi speaking superhero, Shaktimaan, in just two seconds of imitating the earth go around its axis.

Mukesh Khanna’s on-screen romance with Kittu Gidwani, Dr. Jackal’s behenji looking assistant and Tamraj Kilvish’s pointy nose were not enough that the show started a small post-episode session called “Chhoti Chhoti Magar Moti Baatein” to haunt our dreams till eternity. “Sorry Shaktimaan” became the most spoken phrase all around the country.

Considering the number of children who jumped off their balconies, the number who would be seen wearing Shaktimaan costumes and riding bicycles in my colony, and the number who fell into the habit of suffixing “Shaktimaan” after every “sorry”, I’m sure there were instances of fathers in our country being addressed as Shaktimaan instead of the Indian favorite “Papa”.

The Most Memorable Reality Show: Close-Up Antakshari

The 1990’s was the era of originality. We, as Indians, were proud of the games that we played. I still remember playing Pitthu with my cousins during the summer vacations. We were so proud that we chose to take one such game to television and call it not just Antakshari, but “Close-Up Antakshari”.

A decade before fakes like KBC, Indian Idol and Bigg Boss brought families to spend time together in front of the idiot box at night; Close-Up Antakshari did the same in style. Anu Kapoor with his ever-changing co-hosts brought to us a show that was devoid of tears, beeps, unnecessary drama, and a hunger for soaring TRP’s. The Deewane, Parwaane and Mastaane would make every member of the family sing along.

For setting an ideal example for reality television that was sadly not followed by the reality shows of the 2000’s, Close-Up Antakshari will always be remembered fondly.

The Most Memorable VJ: Vishal

“Dear Vishal Bhaiya” was how every kid who wrote to Disney Hour addressed his letters. That explains how immensely Vishal was loved by children across the sub-continent. In an age when we didn’t know of production houses and TV show rights, all we knew was that Vishal brought us our favorite cartoon shows to watch every evening between 6p.m. to 7p.m. on Zee TV. Having not hit puberty, we didn’t care for all the Ruby Bhatias and Mallaika Aroras who VJ’ed on Mtv and Channel V.

Even though his on-screen presence these days is limited to being a sidekick to Shahid Kapur, it’s commendable how he still looks the same as he looked some fifteen odd years back.

The Most Memorable Show on Nickelodeon: Legends of the Hidden Temple

Nickelodeon brought a whole new level of kids’ entertainment via television to India. Shows like Kenan and Kel, All That, Hey Arnold, Global Guts and many more exposed the Indian children to the level of adventure and comedy that was, um, I’m sorry to admit, far superior to what the Indian production houses produced and shoved in our faces. I’m talking about the time when we weren’t introduced to Full House, Seinfeld and Friends by our elder siblings. Let’s not even count the latter three in the list of 90’s TV shows. We’ve watched them on our laptops, haven’t we?

So, among all the awesome shows on Nick, the one that stood out was Legends of the Hidden Temple. The talking Olmec, the Temple Guards (“Mandir ke pehredaar” for all those like me who watched it in Hindi), the Mayan-like set, swanky team names and mouth guards were way beyond what we call awesome.

The Red Jaguars, Purple Parrots, Silver Snakes, Orange Iguanas, Blue Barracudas and the Green Monkeys battled it out to collect semi circular gold coins which eventually won one of the teams an entry into the Temple. I remember cheering for the teams from my drawing room, and shouting out instructions on how to assemble the monkey god’s statue to unlock a door.

There are so many more shows, a mention of which would require another post in itself.

We’ve all evolved from the time of television entertainment to smart-phone connectivity. It’s not a bad age to live in though. ‘Cuz I’m sure how in another one decade or even less, we’ll have an article mentioning the Golden Age of smart-phone that will mention names like Angry Birds, Cut The Rope and Temple Run. Isn’t technology such a Jalebi?

Image Source: dvdverdict.com

48 comments:

  1. @@@@@...Man, its almost like you made us travel time through this one!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *appears with a zap from the future, thanks you and then disappears* :D

      Delete
  2. totally agree with u man...90's was d best time...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've watched each one of those shows and you made me miss them so much. I just feel bad for today's kids. They don't cartoons like Ducktales anymore.
    For you - @@@@@

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hip hip hurray bhi:)
    Bachpan:)
    @@@@

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeahhhh... I still cant count the number of times I have had an argument with Mom for watching this one... A Legend .. :)

      Delete
    2. Yknow, I did think of putting Hip Hip Hurray on the list, but I've just seen some four-five episodes of the show. I put in Vishal to compensate for the same :D

      Delete
  5. I've seen each one of them! Yaad aa gayi. :')
    Also. "Blame it on our love for ducks. Quack." :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha. DuckyBoy, I just couldn't stop thinking about you when I wrote that. I love ducks so much, main toh oats bhi Quack-er Oats ke khaata hun.

      P.S. Joke se semi-self katta ho gaya >_<

      Delete
  6. sarthak!! you have exactly mentioned all the show i used to watch as a kid!..hum paanch and small wonder being my 'favouritest'!! and i realy liked this thing you said- "isn't technology such a jalebi?" such a cool thing to say!!with every blog you keep making more sense :P lol! good going!!! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still remember the whole of Hum Paanch title track :D
      Don't really remember the words of the Small Wonder track. They never dubbed it. Uncool!

      Delete
  7. nice...really it was i believe the same for all...some great hit shows, the laughter and time together, the comic series etc...gud one...!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Richa.
      But it seems like you're not familiar with the whole Jalebi rating system on this blog :P
      Koi nai. Next time :D

      Delete
  8. @@@@@
    Few days ago i was having the discussion on d same topic with people!!! do you remember (I hope u do) Dekh bhai dekh?? and just mohabbat or even hip hip hurray!
    i loved the vishal wala part tho i think even at that age i ha d a crush on him ;) and yaaa dude bewitched! sigh! aawww i miss these shows so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes!
      Don't darofy, simply karofy. Just Mohobbat.
      And and, Is rang badalti duniya mein kya tera hai kya mera hai.. Dekh bhai dekh :D

      Delete
  9. @@@@@
    I absolutely loved small wonder. And legends of the hidden temple. And hum paanch. Hell, all of them.
    I have started feeling old now, kind of like how our grandparents say 'hamare time me'. Sigh.
    But nonetheless, great post. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the five jalebis :D

      And, 'feels like old' kya! Buddhi toh tu ho hi gayi hai. Third year ke budhaape se toh sab tauba karte hain.

      Delete
    2. Samiiiiiii hum yehi sab to discuss karre thhe thode din pehle. Yeh sarthu bwuoy ne hamse hi ideas chura liye honge

      Delete
    3. Now I'll laugh my chor laugh:
      AHUhuhuhuJAhahaha.

      Delete
  10. @@@@@

    I used to play legends of the hidden temple with my friends on the terrace. It was awesome. And shouting and screaming everytime the kids used to stumble in the room of three doors or assembling the monkey. Boy, those were the times.
    :D

    It was sooo good to read a recap of all of our lives. :D
    Thankyou :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to stuff a piece of orange between my lower lip and the lower set of teeth, so that it would look like I was wearing a mouth piece too. See, I was cooler as a kid B^)

      Delete
  11. ..and there was catdog too. on Nick. used to love it. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember that. And there was Two Stupid Dogs on Cartoon Network. Damn, they were so stupid that the show wasn't even funny.
      Droopy stud kutta tha magar. Used to get all the girls. Such a dog.

      Delete
  12. @@@@
    eeeeeeee this is so cool. off late i've been discussing ALL of them with someone or the other :D

    Also I so did NOT know the Vidya Balan-Hum paanch thing. Bahot cool tha. But earlier Radhika koi aur hoti thi. Vidya Balan came later I think...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You gave me four jalebis and ate one on your own. You bhukkad. Bas. Now I'm not replying to whatever you said :P

      Delete
    2. yessss i was hungry.

      plus mentioning vidya balan in a bachchon ki post tch tch.
      its because you didnt put pokemon. :(
      how can you not put pokemon. or digimon OR beyblade.

      Delete
    3. You pseudo 90's person! Pokemon didn't even come on Indian television before 2002.
      In the 90's, the only Pokemon shit one knew about was how some dude in the school bus would have Pokemon cards that his dad got from the US.
      And you mention Digimon here?! Tauheen!

      Delete
  13. @@@@@
    Wah, bachpan ki yaadein!
    More than anything, I can't get over 'Dear Vishal Bhaiya' on Disney Hour - my brother spent years teasing me about my excitement when Vishal Bhaiya came on TV.
    And on Close-Up Antakshri, I remember Anu Kapoor saying 'contest number ...' instead of contestant :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kya baat hai, ShaSha Tharoor! Vishal bhaiya, eh? ;)
      Bhaiyaon ko toh chhod do :P :D

      Delete
    2. Hhahaha. I think my bhaiya found Vishal bhaiya competition for the title of bhaiya. I think that's the most times I could've used 'bhaiya' in a sentence :/ Okaybye.

      Delete
  14. @@@@@

    You brought back some sweet memories of the most golden period of ones life, childhood. Full House was my favourite; Michelle , Uncle Jesse, Joey ( guess Joey is a common name for a dumb funny guy in all the 90's popular shows)
    Love reading it :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. @@@@@
    All jalebis well deserved! Take a bow and call yourself Jalebi bai now :P

    I can totally relate to each and every word of this article, right from the top. The carton box size Sony TV that my grand-dad refused to part away with, the sitcoms you mentioned, everything! While I was reading about Hum Paanch, I was going through a list of serials I used to watch in my mind. And they appeared as I scrolled in the exact chronology (except Family No. 1 :P). Oh boy!

    Thanks for this brilliant article :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dude! Family No. 1 should so go on the list. There is no way that I can do without bringing you another list.

      Delete
    2. If you are going to be making another one then squeeze in Just Mohobbat too. And I Dream Of Jeannie.

      Delete
  16. The indian Version of the Show was Called KARISHMA KA KARISHMA..picture ne yaad dilaadi..."BACHCHAAAPUN" KI
    @@@@

    ReplyDelete
  17. thr was one more show on zee..it was bout some alien..du u remember d name f d show??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aliens? Um, don't remember. Son Pari?

      Delete
    2. The Journey of Allen Strange.
      :) :D

      Delete
  18. I am definitely opening you a HALWAI SHOP...
    @@@@@
    it's so amazing to read about all these old shows that got us hooked. 90's generation is the luckiest of all to have witnessed such amazing characters and story-lines...cheerios!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks yo, Mansi :D
      Turn me fat, ladies. Give me sweets :D

      Delete
  19. Aaah! What good times.
    Though my favorite used to be Filmy Chakkar. And they repeated the magic in Sarabhai! Anyway, well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarabhai was my favorite for such a long time. I have all its episodes on my computer B)

      Delete
  20. Hahaha... I remeber the 'Vishal bhaiya' times, oh lordy! And it's so true that people don't watch television these days! But, in my house, the television is blaring almost 12 hrs a day, courtsey my 5-yr-old brother and my dadi...
    Never watched Legends of the Hidden Temple or Small Wonder, though... I was probably too young or non-existent back then (yup, now feel old :p)... The only show I ever watched on Nick, besides Sponge Bob, was a show called Mutant Ninja Turtles... loved 'em!
    Jalebis for everyone!
    @@@@@@@@@@@

    ReplyDelete

If you had 5 Jalebis, how many would you give me for writing this post?

None = You don't deserve any >:O
@ = Soggy and stale! :(
@@ = Stale! :|
@@@ = I'll need a samosa to digest this with! :P
@@@@ = Sweet and Crisp! :)
@@@@@ = I'm opening you a Halwai Shop! :D