Indian television’s first soap opera started in 1984 and created history. Telecast at primetime evening every week, it was believed that people would leave all their work to watch the episodes. Streets would be empty as ‘Hum Log’ played in almost every television in every household. All of its characters are still remembered. Be it Badki, Lallu, or Nanhe. With 156 episodes, it was the longest show on TV at the time it ended.
Set in the backdrop of 1947 partition and travails that a family goes through post-partition, Buniyaad was directed by Ramesh Sippy. Just like Hum Log, it gained instant popularity when it was first aired in 1986. People could identify with the characters of Master Haveliram and his family members who had to face problems post partition.
The 78 episode series originally aired in Doordarshan in 1987, the only channel at that time. Sunday mornings began with staple diet of mythology and the half hour show had everyone hooked. The show gained almost 100 million viewers and as one of the magazines had stated, everyone was gripped with the ‘Ramayan’ fever. Funnily, lot of trains, buses and even religious events were rescheduled keeping in mind the show timings.
A year later of Ramayan, BR Chopra came out with his magnum opus, Mahabharat which was high budget TV series of that time. Just like Ramayan, each of the characters became well etched in people’s mind. So much so that certain actors were known by the character they played and not by their original names.
Bournvita Quiz Contest
Although targeting the kids, the popular quiz show had people from all age groups hooked. As the affable quiz master Derek O’Brian asked volley of questions to school kids. It started originally as Radio show and made its TV debut in 1992 on Zee TV. It gained popularity perhaps because it was one of a kind back then. After several successful seasons in the past, the show has recently made a comeback on TV.
Shah Rukh Khan made his acting debut on small screen with an off beat story of an army cadet. The show and his portrayal of army cadet Abhimanyu Rai became an overnight success on television and gave India a superstar.
The first women centric soap ran for 5 long years. Centered on the lead character, Tara, the story was about the trails and turbulence of Tara and her friends in urban India. It was also the first Hindi drama series.
With adult undertones, the serial was directed by Mahesh Bhatt and the story was written by Shobha De. As an afternoon daily soap, it had an instant connection with housewives across the nation. The two year long show had actors like Manoj Bajpai, Ashutosh Rana and Rohit Roy making their acting debut.
Soap queen Ekta Kapoor’s first venture was a comedy series about five sisters and their (mis)adventures. From the feminist Meenakshi, to the bimbo Sweety and tomboy Kajal bhai, all won hearts of people and are still remembered for their antics.
Film music to layman was earlier restricted to radio. When television came about, film music got a new lease of life with Chitrahaar. The half hour show showcased popular numbers from superhit films. This was during the time when the concept of music channel and 24/7 music was alien to the country. And for most people, Chitrahaar was the only way of watching your favourite songs from the comforts of your home.
Before Mandira Bedi became famous for her noodle straps, she played the feisty reporter Shanti in this TV series which attained cult status on Indian Television. A drama series, Shanti focused on a young reporter who is in search of her father.
Dekh Bhai Dekh
The Diwan family made us laugh every Wednesday with their antics. Failed movie actor Shekhar Suman struck gold with his brilliant portrayal of the witty Sameer Diwan. The serial also had actors like Sushma Seth, Farida Jalal and Naveen Nischol playing important roles.
Imagine a lifestyle magazine which covers exotic locales, interesting people as TV show. That’s what Surabhi was. The show made the remote corners of accessible to us. It showcased the talents, unique features of states and the people living there. And with effervescence hosts Renuka Sahane and Siddharth Kak, the journeys seemed even more enjoyable. The show also got an entry in the Limca Book of Records as the ‘as the longest running cultural series’.
The household game suddenly got a glamorous avatar on television. Host Annu Kapoor, with various beauties as his co –host, made the simple childhood game, a musical extravaganza on television. It was perhaps the first interactive musical show on television. Several other shows were made later on the same lines, but none could match up to this one.
India’s first dance show had the entire nation jiving. Based on the format of basic dance competition, Boogie Woogie started in 1995 and had a successful decade long stint on Indian Television.
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa
Zee’s musical show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has found talents like Shreya Ghoshal, Sanjeevani and many others. Hosted by then a young upcoming singer Sonu Nigam, the show was the first music show on Indian television. It could also be called the first reality show where contestants from across the country came to showcase their singing talent.
Rendezvous with Simi Garewal
Film actress Simi Garewal turned chat show host and opened the world of the rich and famous to the Indian audience. Because of her closeness to all the leading stars of film world, stars opened up to her and divulged details which one had only heard or read about till then. And it was our way of getting to know our favourite stars better.
Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
Ekta Kapoor’s soap brought in a revolution of sorts on television. It heralded the era of saas bahu dramas into Indian television and changed the entire format of serials. Post the success of the show, TV became almost as big an medium as films. Its lead characters Tulsi and Mihir became household names.
Kaun Banega Crorepati
Amitabh Bachchan got a new lease of life thanks to this show. Based on the format of a popular quiz show ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, the show offered a whopping Rs 1 crore prize money if the contestant answered all 12 questions correctly. Not only did the show become an instant hit, it also made Amitabh Bachchan more relatable star. The superstar’s humble persona won hearts.