Let’s be honest: Indian TV equals nightmare. Quite literally! But we’ve heard that Shaktimaan is preparing to return and fight for TRPs with the naagins. And several popular yesteryear shows – the high-school drama Hip Hip Hurray, the sci-fi show Captain Vyom and the sitcom Sarabhai vs Sarabhai – are also making a comeback as web-shows. This has got us all hopeful. So we’ve made a wishlist of shows whose version 2.0, we believe, would give TV’s creepy creatures a run for their money.
Superhero in Khaki: Udaan
In this story inspired by her elder sister’s life, Kavita Chaudhury (Surf’s Lalita ji) played a simple girl from Madhya Pradesh, Kalyani Singh, who is raised by a progressive father and goes on to join the Indian Police Service. The 30-episode show that aired from 1989 to 1991 traced her journey from her village to becoming a tough cop, depicting realistically the challenges and gender discrimination she faced. Does Indian TV need sensible female characters occupied with things other than love, marriage and kitchen politics? Hell yes!
The Original Modern Family: Dekh Bhai Dekh
The Diwan family with its eccentric cast of characters and their comic trials and tribulations made this one of the most popular sitcoms in the early ’90s. The show’s good comic writing was supported by a stellar cast (Shekhar Suman, Navin Nischol, Farida Jalal, Sushma Seth).
Its humour wasn’t slapstick or misogynistic (unlike what mostly passes for comedy today) and the characters acted and dressed like regular people do (no over-the-top costumes, jewellery or makeup). A remake of a good, clean family sitcom where content was king? Yes, please.
Honey, Let’s Talk to the Kids: Teer Kaman
This 90s talk show hosted by Amin Virani was the TV equivalent of the shrink’s couch. Seated on opposite ends of the studio were groups of children and parents with a bespectacled Virani in the centre, moderating discussions on issues such as discipline, bullying, superstitions, fears that parents pass on to kids, the hardships of being a or being raised by a single and/or working parent, and so on.
It was an unusual show even for a time when people memorised phone numbers, wrote letters and took pains to communicate. It would be all the more relevant today, when family members are in serious relationships with their gadgets.
The Housewife-in-Shining Armour: Rajani
Unlike the self-sacrificing bahus who became the feminine ideal in the decades that followed, Priya Tendulkar’s Rajani in the ’90s was aspirational due to her intelligence and confidence.
An Indian Joan of Arc, she was ever ready to stand up for what was right even if it pitted her against powerful builders, corrupt LPG distributors and urban couples opting to abort a female foetus. Rajani showed that an ordinary homemaker could be, or at least try to be — with a little courage and awareness of her rights — the source of social change.
The Pre-Twilight Love Saga: Chandrakanta
Vishpurush and kanyas, witches, ghouls, sorcerers, snake kings, shape-shifting animals and ludicrous plot twists; Hindi TV may be exploring the supernatural in all its permutations and combinations today, but Chandrakanta has been there, done that. And did so a whole lot better. No remake, please. A re-run would be entertaining enough!
From HT Brunch, July 10, 2016
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