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India’s Golden Era of Television; Unforgettable and Iconic

In India’s Golden Television Era, classics like ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ shaped routines, even on wedding days. ‘Surabhi’ and favorites like ‘Kyuki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ entertained and broke records, while ‘Family No.1’ and ‘Shaktiman’ offered diverse delights.

Long before the era of OTT platforms flooded our screens with gripping series like House of Dragons, Heeramandi, The Family Man and many more, there existed a time when television shows sway over every Indian household. In the 90s, in the absence of internet and social media, television reigned supreme, with Doordarshan leading the charge. It was India’s first TV channel, and the various shows it ran captured the hearts of the audience like nothing else.

‘Ramayana’ & ‘Mahabharata’ before ‘I do’

In an era before binge-watching became a phenomenon, families gathered religiously around their television sets to watch epics like ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ on Doordarshan. These timeless classics drove the rhythm of daily life, with routines revolving around their broadcast schedules. People were so committed to watching each day’s episode that they wouldn’t miss it, even if it coincided with their wedding day or any other important events! Besides these masterpieces, audiences also tuned in to timeless Bollywood music featured in shows like ‘Chitrahaar’ and ‘Rangoli’.

The ‘Surabhi’ Phenomenon

One standout among these famous shows was ‘Surabhi’. Launched in 1990 as a weekly cultural showcase, hosted by Siddharth Kak and Renuka Shahane, it instantly became a national sensation. It went viral at a time when the word ‘viral’ used to be associated only with a fever! The show’s IT moment arrived when it received 1.4 million letters in a single week, earning its place in the Limca Book of Records. As a consequence, in 1993, India Post introduced contest postcards. ‘Surabhi’ had a glorious run on the national channel until 2001 (with a year’s break in 1991). It was the longest-running show of that era on Indian television.

Beyond Doordarshan, 90’s Irresistible Charm Offensive

While Doordarshan held the spotlight, several other shows on other channels ruled the hearts of the millions. Who could forget the unforgettable tunes, and characters of the mega-serial ‘Kyuki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, which became household names? With shows like ‘Kasauti Zindagi Ki’ and ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii’, all starting with the letter ‘K’, Indian mothers were hooked to their television screens like never before!

‘Hum Paanch’, which debuted in 1995, had audiences laughing until tears streamed down their faces. The protagonist, Anand Mathur, often found himself in comedic predicaments due to his five daughters: Meenakshi, Radhika, Sweety, Kajal, and Chhoti. And then there was ‘Aahat’, which sent shivers down our spines long before ‘The Conjuring’ franchise even existed! Developed by B. P. Singh for Sony Entertainment Television, this Indian thriller-horror anthology series made its debut on October 5th, 1995.

No need to fret! Indian television had something for everyone. For fans of ‘Modern Family’ Indian televison offered ‘Family No.1’. Starring Kanwaljeet Singh and Tanvi Azmi, this Indian comedy aired on Sony Entertainment Television from 1998 to 1999. The plot revolved around two single parents, each with three children, who are compelled to share a newly rented home, resulting in ample of comedic situations.

And for die-hard Marvel enthusiasts, we had our very own superheroes. Before Iron Man dazzled us on the silver screen and showcased his golden and somewhat maroon outfit on the big screen, Shaktiman sported it with even more sass! It’s said that streets emptied out on Sundays as children and adults both gathered together at home, to watch their superhero fight evil and save human lives!

As we reflect on the golden era of Indian television, it becomes quite evident that the 90s laid the foundation for the diverse content landscape we witness today. The simplicity yet impactfulness of those serials continues to resonate with audiences, making the 90s kids nostalgic for an era that shaped their viewing habits and cultural experiences. In a world bombarded with content, the impact of 90s television shows how storytelling can last through the years, connecting with people of all ages.

By- Surabhi Somvanshi

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Last Updated: 19th Jun 2024