Waking up on Sunday mornings listening to <i>Jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai…are chuddi pehenke phool khila hai phool khila hai</i> was truly a delight. The desperate wait to meet Mowgli, Bhalu, Bhageera and Akela once a week was nothing less than a treat! Another serial ‘Mahabharat’ worked as a time machine that took us to the era of the mighty Pandavas.
TV shows of the 1990s were undeniably an integral part of the growing up years for all those born a decade earlier. These programmes left a deep and an indelible impact on my heart for infinity. They are indeed a priceless part of my (And I am sure of many like me) memory.
The public service advertisements and simple animated messages produced by the government were equally appealing. Right from <i>Ek titli..anek titliyan</i> to the ad featuring actor Manohar Singh educating an underprivileged child are very close to my heart. The theme song of the ad <i>Poorab se surya uga…phaila ujiyara</i> had in-depth meaning. Every time I listen to the song, I get goosebumps that remind me of my priceless childhood!
Who can forget <i>Mile Sur Mera Tumhara</i>, a <i>sur</i> that literally held the entire nation in one common string. The simplicity in being an Indian, being a unit despite diversities was beautifully expressed through the music video. Directed by ad-filmmaker Kailash Surendranath, ‘Mile Sur…’ is beyond comparison. An attempt was made recently to revamp the iconic music video but the efforts couldn’t simply match. The new video <i>Phir Mile Sur</i> had industry bigwigs lip-syncing the soulful song, but it lacked zest and passion for the nation. Which is why someone has rightly said, ‘Old is Gold’.
Adding more colours to the panorama was <i>Baje sargam…har taraf se, goonje banker desh raag</i>. The incredibly overwhelming song featuring a number of singers, musicians and classical dancers enhanced India’s multi-cultural tradition on small screen. At a time when India was taking baby steps with respect to television, these music videos helped people across the length and breadth of the nation to get drenched in the colour of secularism.
Even TV commercials had “Indian-ness” in them. Remember, <i>Humara Kal…humara aaj…buland Bharat ki buland tavsweer…humara Bajaj</i>! How about <i>Jab main chota baccha tha...badi shararat kerta tha…meri chori pakdi jati…</i>…doesn’t this remind one of his/her childhood?
It was so easy for us then, to relate to the character on screen, whether on soaps, commercials, animation or radio jingles….but now forwarding to contemporary times, very little of real India do we get to see on the idiot box. It is such a sorry state of affairs.
Watching TV then was like having a gala time with the entire family. I still remember how I and my parents would bring everything else to a halt and watch ‘Mahabharat’. Not only us, but the whole neighbourhood would get glued in front of the TV set. And the title track of the epic show would reverberate as if it were echoing. A routine family get-together in such a fashion was unparalleled. Sadly, no such gathering takes place these days. Maybe the content on television in earlier days acted as a catalyst to knit families…something which is completely lost nowadays!
What saddens me the most is how a mother is represented on TV…especially in commercials today. I vividly remember women draping the six yards, long hair either tied in a bun or left open and sporting a big red bindi. They made perfect Indian moms. But off late, ‘mothers’ are women who are nothing but glam dolls and too westernized to fall under the bracket of Indian motherhood. This is how someone described what the future generation would miss in their mothers- <i>Maa ke aanchal mein sone ka sukh agli pidhi nahi le payegi, kyun ki jeans pehen ne wali Maa aanchal kahan se layegi</i> (Gen-next will not be able to cherish the feeling on resting on mother’s lap as a mother who wears jeans won’t be able to provide the pristine motherly love).
Commercials without jingles then were unthinkable. The captivating melody sunk into the ears so soothingly that people would just hum them sub-consciously. Be it <i>Tandurusti ki raksha kerta hai lifebuoy…lifebuoy hai jahan tandurusti hai wahan</i> or <i>Sirf ek saridon aur sardard se aaram...na rahe peeda na rahe dard</i>.
Just contemplating what it used to feel to be a kid in the 1990s. Life was simple yet the day to day experiences of life were enriching. With limited yet impactful exposure of TV, I and many others like me grew up only to reminisce memories of the long past. Something which can never return…