Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Mumbai Doordarshan circa 1970s – The Black and White TV Era

Posted in TV, Entertainment & Movies by Amit Paranjape on June 29, 2009

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 

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’.

Gujarati

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.

Hindi

‘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.

English

‘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.

International

These shows were terrific. They were usually sourced from UK and US.

Charlie Chaplin

I love Lucy

Goodies

Fire Ball XL5

Tele-Match (This was another one of my big favorites)

Advertisements

Even back then, the ads were quite interesting!

Thumps Up – Happy days are here again

Fabina Suiting

L.D. Obron Suiting

Babubhai Jagjeevandas (BJ)

Mahabaleshwar Fountain Hotel

Vicco Turmeric Cream

Palmolive (starring Sunil Gavaskar)

 

Closing Thoughts

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.

Pune in the late 19th century – Through the eyes of New York Times

Posted in Pune by Amit Paranjape on June 1, 2009

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:

India’s plague and famine (dated June 22, 1897)

Drought and plague in India (dated June 18, 1899)

Main symptoms of the plague (dated November 25, 1899)

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:

Foreigners win Cambridge Honors (dated June 18, 1899)

The work that Pandita Ramabai did in Pune in the late 19th century.

Woman’s education in India: What has been done by the Brahmin lady now in this country. (dated March 7, 1886)

Pandita Ramabai’s work winning praises (dated July 30, 1893)

The graduation of Anandibai Joshi, the first Indian woman doctor, who got her degree at Philadelphia in 1886.

Thirty-three new female doctors (dated March 12, 1886)

A petition filed by the wife of Sardar Natu against the British Government for holding Natu and his brother in detention.

Topics of the times (dated May 29, 1898) 

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.

Golf girdles the globe (dated January 8, 1899)

Gossip of the horsemen (dated November 27, 1898)

 

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.

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