The Joys Of Doordarshan

Our tryst with Doordarshan started in 1983 when father got home a boxy black and white television set with wooden shutters. To protect the TV from dust, it was draped with a beautiful cloth embroidered. As a finishing touch, a plastic flower vase was placed on top, completing its look. Not surprisingly, it occupied the pride of place in our drawing-room.

Ask any Indian who grew up in the eighties/early nineties, and one of the things they are quite nostalgic about is Doordarshan. Many years ago, much before binge-watching on OTT platforms and the 24/7 programming of cable, the only thing to watch on TV used to be the slim offerings of Doordarshan. With limited programming and limited time of broadcast, we, the audience, did not have much of a choice. 

logo of Doordarshan (P.C. Internet)

Sometimes I look back and think about the outstanding content that Doordarshan churned out at one point in time and feel nostalgic. “Trishna” was the introduction to Jane Austen, while “Udaan” gave the inspiration to reach for the sky. “The World This Week” sparked an interest in world politics, while “Surabhi” showcased the delights of India. “Malgudi Days” was the introduction to Swami and his friends, while the re-runs of BBC shows made me fall in love with classics and a fan of British humour. While regional content might be the current flavour on OTT platforms, it was Doordarshan’s Sunday afternoon regional movies that introduced me to the rainbow of languages from India. The delights of art cinema, “Suraj ka Satwan Ghoda“, “Manthan“, “Trikaal” etc. were all first watched on that boxy black and white TV. “Dekh Bhai Dekh” kept us chuckling, while “Chitrahaar” and “Rangoli” kept us grooving. Shahrukh’s “Fauji” was the army boy every teenager drooled over, while Siddharth Basu’s “Quiz Time” ignited my interest in trivia. The interest in one-day cricket, and the fascination with tennis, was all thanks to Doordarshan’s cancelling regular programming to telecast the matches. 

A collage of shows on Doordarshan (P.C. Internet)

The advent of Cable TV and 24/7 programming in the early 1990s sounded a death knell for Doordarshan. By the mid-’90s, Doordarshan was surrounded by issues, shoddy production quality, boring shows that took the audience for granted and not keeping up with the times. Doordarshan started looking tired, a has-been in front of the shiny new shows and content on cable. The fall was hard for one that had been the ruler for a long time. Yet, our family held out as much as possible. However, the move to Chennai, where Doordarshan’s programs were all in Tamil, meant that our family also bowed to the inevitable.

From starting in 1959, with a small transmitter and a make-shift studio, Doordarshan has travelled a long time. The interesting fact is, despite being an OTT fan, I still search for Doordarshan once every year. Republic Day is not complete if I don’t watch the parade on Doordarshan.

The only difference is I now watch it on Youtube, and not on that boxy TV set. 

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featured image Photo is by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

66 thoughts on “The Joys Of Doordarshan

  1. Excellent
    What Harshita has given me through this blog is the “Return of my happiest time of my younger period”. Thanks Harshita.
    I wish now that upcoming TV shows will once again comprise of similar shows as described in present blog.
    Dr. S.K.NANDA

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The days when we used to watch Chitrahar and Chitralahari, Shaktimaan, Dekh Bhai Dekh and the regional movies on Sat / Sunday evening… Golden days of having limited screen time and enjoying playing with real friends which is a distant dream now saying a hi/hello on social media..

    Those were the memories generations now would listen as stories…. Thanks for rekindling them Harshita

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This made me nostalgic. It brought back all the lovely memories of watching shows, movies, and news on Doordarshan with family (joint family). Thanks for writing this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh those old days when watching TV was all about watching whatever came up on Doordarshan. Nostalgia! It sure seems like a life far away from the umpteen number of shows and platforms available today for audience to binge watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, Harshita. you have taken me back to my childhood days. Yes, I remember Surabhi watching with parents after dinner when the hosts would read out letters from the audience and my father would praise them. I have watched them so much. Bomkyesh Bakshi is still my favourite.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Doordarshan is like being part of the journey where we all valued the shows and even showmakers valued the content they are showcasing to the world. Till date I have Doordarshan as number channel set in my fav list in the TATA SKY. I even watch few shows now and then. Few months back they were airing Munshi Premchand stories and I watched with my kids.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t know that DD shows were available on YouTube. My parents didn’t let me watch much TV. I remember watching the Sunday morning cartoons and Chitrahar on Wednesdays.

        I feel nostalgic about Potli baba ki and Jungle book cartoons!


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