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