Can you imagine Television programs for about 4 hours a day, with only one channel to choose from? Well that was a reality not that long back. I am talking about the late 1970s and early 1980s. This blogpost is an attempt to simply list the programs, serials, characters and advertisements from those Black & White TV days. Hoping that readers will contribute further to this list, as well as share their thoughts around these programs.
Television made its debut in Mumbai in the early 1970s. The production and broadcasting organization was known as ‘Mumbai Doordarshan’ (Doordarshan = Remote/Distant View). The reach of this programming was soon extended to Pune, via the Sinhagad fort transmission tower.
Throughout the 70s, the programming was limited to a few evening hours. There were no ‘commercially’ produced shows. Essentially, majority of the programming was developed by the Mumbai Doordarshan Studios in Worli. There were some real good international programs as well. Cricket matches were one exception when programming was available all day. Infact my earliest memory of watching TV is the 1974 India England tour, when Tony Greg was the England captain.
Here is a list of TV programs that come to mind…
Marathi programming was quite prominent in those days, prior to the ‘National Programming’ invasion from Delhi around the time of the 1982 Asiad Games.
‘Gajra’ – This was a weekly program focussing on a variety of small skits that were very well made. The program was light and funny, and was one of the stars of the week.
‘Chimanrao Ani Gundyabhau’ – This was probably one of the first (if not the first) Marathi serials on Mumbai Doordarshan. And it was a classic. Even today, it is probably the gold standard for Marathi comedy serials. The serial was based on the ever popular book series by C.V. Joshi. Dilip Prabhavalkar was simply amazing as Chimanrao, with Bal Karve playing the interesting character of Gundyabhau.
‘Saptahiki’ – This program summarized the upcoming weekly programming. It was like a weekly ‘TV guide’.
‘Amchi Mati Amchi Mansa’ – This program was targetted for the farmers. It provided a lot of valuable information as well as some entertainment.
‘Kilbil’ – No! I am not talking about the Quentin Tarrantino movie 🙂 . This was a speciality children’s programming.
‘Batmya’ – For many years, the Marathi news were set at 7:30pm. Famous news personalities included the likes of Bhakti Barve.
‘Saturday Marathi Movie’.
After Marathi, Gujarati programming was also given a good deal of priority. Note, I only understood a little bit of Gujarati, but my father and grandparents had spent many years living in Ahmedabad and were fluent in the language. Hence these programs were watched with good interest at our home.
‘Aao Mare Sathi’ – This program was analogous to the Marathi ‘Gajra’.
‘Santakukdi’ – This program was similar to Marathi ‘Kilbil’ and was targetted towards the children.
‘Chayageet’ – This was one of the most watched programs. As the name suggests, this program presented a nice medley of Hindi film songs.
‘Phool Khile hai Gulshan Gulshan’ – Interesting program focussed on ‘Bollywood’. The anchor, Tabassum was extremely good at interviewing the celebrity guests.
‘Sunday Hindi Movie’ – This program was probably the most anticipated program of the week. In the days before the VCR, this was the only opportunity to watch a Hindi movie outside a movie theater.
‘Samachar’ – The Hindi news were scheduled everyday at 9pm.
‘Magic Lamp’ – This program was targeted towards the children.
‘Sports Roundup’ – This was a weekly program that was anchored really well by Frendrun Devitre
‘What’s the Good Word?’ – One of my favorites. This quiz-type show was a classic. Sabira Merchant anchored it in her distinctive style.
‘News’ – The English News were set for 10pm everyday.
These shows were terrific. They were usually sourced from UK and US.
I love Lucy
Fire Ball XL5
Tele-Match (This was another one of my big favorites)
Even back then, the ads were quite interesting!
Thumps Up – Happy days are here again
L.D. Obron Suiting
Babubhai Jagjeevandas (BJ)
Mahabaleshwar Fountain Hotel
Vicco Turmeric Cream
Palmolive (starring Sunil Gavaskar)
As I mentioned this list is just a beginning, and I am hoping that readers will contribute more! I also wanted to point the readers to a great blog-post that I enjoyed reading tremendously – ‘Doordharshan, Mumbai and I’ from the blog ‘Straying Around’ by Abodh. This post describes the Mumbai Doordarshan programming in the mid-80s, after the advent of color.
Oh did I mention the TV hardware in the 1970s?! We had a 19 inch one channel Black & White TV, manufactured by ‘EC’. And in those days, they were expensive! I think in 1975, this model cost around Rs. 2800.
The New York Times Archives on nytimes.com is a great source of articles published in the New York Times, dating back to 1851. I have often referred to this repository to look back and browse information (and the way it was covered in those days…) about various events and periods over the past century and half.
In this brief blog post, I would like to point the readers to a few interesting articles from these archives about Pune (or ‘Poona’ as it was known back then by the British) from the late 19th century. Overall, I felt that the New York Times towed the British ‘view’ of India (I guess that was to be expected…). They also had some correspondents based in India at that time who contributed to the stories as well.
[NOTE – You might have to sign-in into nytimes.com to access these articles.]
The late 19th century was tumultuous period in Pune’s history. The end of the century saw the most horrific epidemic the city has ever witnessed – the plague epidemic. Just when it couldn’t get any worse, it did. A severe drought hit the region. This double tragedy resulted in thousands of deaths. The local population was enraged with the way in which the British authorities handled the crisis. This eventually culminated in the assassination of Pune Commissioner Rand, by the Chaphekar brothers on the night of 22 June 1897. These events are very well captured in a famous Marathi movie ‘22 June 1897’ – directed Nachiket & Jayu Patwardhan (imdb link). Initially, I didn’t find any reference to this incident in the archives. Thanks to Yogesh Khandke for pointing this link out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caphekar_brothers This wikipedia article references a couple New York Times articles related to this incident. (Apparently, I had missed out on this search since Poona was referred to as ‘Poonah’ in these articles.)
The New York Times did discuss the plague crisis through multiple articles:
Lokmanya Tilak and his work were not covered by NY Times in the 19th century; but do find coverage in the early decades of the 20th century.
Here are few other topics that were covered.
Wrangler Paranjape becoming the first Indian to get the honor of ‘Wrangler’ at Cambridge, UK:
The work that Pandita Ramabai did in Pune in the late 19th century.
The graduation of Anandibai Joshi, the first Indian woman doctor, who got her degree at Philadelphia in 1886.
A petition filed by the wife of Sardar Natu against the British Government for holding Natu and his brother in detention.
Some ordinary observations that provide glimpses into the British Army life in Pune/India, are also mentioned. These include references about horse racing, golf and other pursuits of the British officers.
Hope you find these historical perspectives interesting. I find history that ‘lives’ through the articles of an era gone by, to be more interesting, more alive, more fascinating…than mundane history books. I hope that someday, we can also have access to free online archives of Indian Newspapers.