Even though it has been over three decades since it ended, even a brief mention of Hum Log stirs up memories of the soap opera that caught the pulse of the entire nation when it went on air on July 7, 1984. The show, with its simple story and relatable characterisation, became immensely popular.
It was written by Manohar Shyam Joshi and directed by P Kumar Vasudev. It was on air for 154 episodes, before it ended on December 17, 1985.
Remembering old times, Abhinav Chaturvedi, who played the role of Nanhe, an aspiring cricketer, in the show, says, “It was well written. Joshiji borrowed real-life insights and added them to the characters.” On the other hand, Rajesh Puri, who essayed the role of Lalu, the jobless older son in the soap, says that the bond between the entire unit is what he really misses. “We were all so close that even after the shoot, we used to address each other by our on-screen names.”
When it started, the show’s primary focus was family planning, but after 13 episodes, Joshi changed the story a bit, and made family harmony, women empowerment and national integration the main themes. “People still ask me, ‘Why don’t we have characters like those in today’s shows?” The thing is that Hum Log was very real, and that is what appealed to people,” says Abhinav.
Rajesh echoes a similar stance, and says that the show became popular because “people related to characters like Lalu, Badki, a simple girl waiting to get married, and the ambitious Majhli, who wanted to break free and pursue her calling in life”. In fact, Rajesh says that late actor Rajesh Kumar even advised him to actually change his “name to Lalu, because the character had almost become a brand”.
Abhinav also recalls that the atmosphere on the sets used to be “fun”, and all the characters in the show got equal prominence. “We were all from theatre, and would look up to our seniors on the sets. We did our rehearsals diligently and had regular workshops. We even ate together, which forged a bond between us that came across on screen,” he says. Rajesh adds that they used to shoot “for eight hours a day and never used to rush through the show to air it on time”.
“Nowadays, the creative aspect suffers due to the stress of delivering the content,” he says. During the course of the show, the team had earned quite a fan following. Abhinav says that he used to be “flooded with letters”. But there is one instance that he fondly remembers. “Once, I was travelling to Jammu with my cousin by train. At Meerut, someone started banging on the cabin’s door. When I opened it, I realised that a huge crowd was waiting on the platform to see me. So, I met them,” he says.
The voice of the show: Ashok Kumar, the narrator
Just like the show, Ashok Kumar’s epilogues, at the end of each episode, drew a lot of attention. He used to point out the important moral from every episode. Initially, he had come on board for only the first 10 episodes, but his role continued till the end.