Thursday, October 22, 2009

50 Glorious Years of Doordarshan - II

Hum Log:

I liked the title, the  Outlook magazine gave for an article on 'Hum log':

'That epic moment when we spotted ourselves on TV'

When the serial started on  7th July, 1984, we, Indians,  never had a cue of  how it was going to affect our day to day lives, thereafter!  The most inspired thing about Hum Log was its name. These two words captured the essence of the show and what it meant for millions of viewers.  Hum Log was an account of both who we were and wished to be as well as of the times in which ‘we people’ lived. 

Though the serial was in Hindi and was more famous in the Hindi speaking belt, I noticed that even Tamil speaking people, who did not understand a word in Hindi, started watching it.  I was in Hosur(Tamilnadu) at that time and all my Tamil friends were watching it and if they did not follow some dialogues, they used to come home and ask me to translate!  My husband's very old aunts, who were in a small village in Trichy (Tamilnadu), became addicted to this Hindi serial!  Basesar Ram and Bhagwanti, Lallu, Badki, Chutki, Nanhe, Majhli, Dada, Dadi...became household names!  Whenever Basesar Ram started singing old Hindi film songs, all of us used to join in with him!  Majhli was an aspiring gazhal singer and she sang really well!

The best part was, at the end of every episode, actor Ashok Kumar would discuss the ongoing story and situations with the audience in a unique style, using Hindi couplets and limericks. In later episodes, after the show had reached the heights of popularity, he'd introduce the actors who played various characters in the serial and end his monologue with the various Indian language versions of the words "Hum Log." I can still hear his sort of tired voice talking to us.

With 'Hum Log', the addiction of watching 9 pm serial started.  I used to make the children finish their homework and have dinner by 8.30 pm!  Till that time, I was particular not to switch on the TV, thought the children will get addicted!  But after 9, all of us got addicted, till about 10 pm!  Our thanks goes to Vasanth Sathe,  the I&B Minister at that time, who got the idea to start serials in our television and Manohar Shyam Joshi, the writer and P. Kumar Vasudev (an unfamiliar director till then!).

The serials of those days did not have advertisement break at all, if I remember correctly. After the huge success of 'Hum Log' the producers vied with each other to produce serials, which needed money...the start of catchy advertisements began!


I saw the re-run of  Buniyaad a few years back and so remember the story better than Hum Log story, which was also  written by Manohar Shyam Joshi and directed by the renowned director ('Sholay' fame) Ramesh Sippy.   This serial was first aired in 1986.

The story is based on the Partition time, or rather the after effects of the Partition.  The main character,  Master Haveliram  was a patriotic and a very principled man and chose teaching as his way of constructing an ideal society of dreams. 

The story begins with a very youthful and exuberant Haveli Ram (Alok Nath) falling in love with his student Lajwanti (Anita Kanwar).  Alok Nath is in no way handsome, neither is Anita Kanwar any epitome of beauty, but I can still feel the chemistry between them.  Lajwanti will just lift her eyes up with all the love she felt for him and look at Haveli Ram ...I have got goose bumps now, I can feel their love by just remembering the scenes, after so many years!  He used to speak pure Hindi and was a very shy and straight forward character!  Throughout the serial he was addressing her with respect...Lajoji!

They marry and have three children. Each one was played by an iconic actor of the television at that time.  The story shows the children grow up and marry and have children and live in true old pre-independence style. 

In the serial, Haveli Ram goes missing. While all others think that he is dead, his wife Lajoji refuses to believe so. The whole country was hysterical. And when he returned, it was the talk of the town - we realized the power of television for the first time. 

Of course, there is Veerawali (Kiron Joneja), Haveli Ram’s sister and her own story.  And try as you might, you cannot forget Lochan (Soni Razdan) who plays the bitchy wife of the timid older son,  played by Dalip Tahil.  I liked Mazhar Khan (second son) who played a rogue character. Kanwaljeet (third son) was tall and so handsome!  Asha Sachdev, who played in a negative role, as Haveli Ram's sister-in-law, acted very well, with her huge eyes rolling all the time!  Vijayendra Ghatge (Veerawali's friend) became famous for his voice (everyone admired him more,  because he was a blue blooded prince in real life!).

These lines became popular in those days, don't remember more details, though:

"Lajoji (Anita Kanwar) ne khaya badaam,
usme se nikla Haveliram (Alok Nath),
Haveliram ne kholi almaari,
usme se nikli Veerawaali (Kiran Juneja),
Veerawaali ne khaya paan,
usme se nikla Vrushbhaan (Vijayendra Ghatge)."

I tried my best to get the original title song of Buniyaad, but could not.   Anup Jalota sang this one in a concert:

Palchhin Palchhin Tere Mere Jivan Ki Yahi Buniyaad

Later on, DD Metro came and film based serials like Superhit Muqabla, Show Theme etc. became famous. But people who have seen these serials will never enjoy television, like they did, in those days. Whenever people got together, the main topic of discussion was these serials. People came home early to watch them, sitting with the family. I remember planning to go to movies on non-serial days!

Will write more about other DD serials, which affected me most, in the next part! 

The first part of this post is here!


hitch writer said...

Though I have heard about Humlog and Buniyaad and remotely remember I saw it.. !!

I can see how much you loved them... the way you write about it... !!! the zest is infectious.. I need to post about my favourite doordarshan serials... !!!!

Sandhya said...

More serials are on the way! Should I hurry up?!!!

Anonymous said...

That was wonderful to read! Hum log - I saw later - as a re-run. But Buniyaad - we all used to watch together! There was something amazing about it! We used to finish homework, dinner and watch Buniyaad :) My neighbours did not have TV initially, so they used to come too - and it used to be so much fun! I loved reading this, Sandhya! Waiting for the next installment :)

Anonymous said...

Hum log was awesome :) So was Buniyaad, though I couldn't follow them regularly... and we did really see.. spot, ourselves on the telly when we saw Hum Log.

I remember Chutki was studying in Lady Sriram then, and Nanhe in St Stephens and I once saw Badki near Hanuman Mandir buying colourful, glass bangles :) They were mini stars then :)

Kavita Saharia said...

Initiall Why these both the serials were a must watch in our house was because Manohar Shyam Joshi was from Kumauon....every thing from story to the cast,direction,the lines were so good...san razmataz.I remember reading an article which explained that this continuing stories on TV are called SOAP abroad ,i think that was the turning point in India TV history.
Sandhya,what an enjoyable and involving post...thanks,good night !!!

Aparna said...

Excellent post Sandhya.
I loved watching these serials and I feel personally the timing of these serials made us plan our evenings better. We only watched TV between 9 and 10 and made sure all the homework and eating dinner were done by that time.
Now kids end up watching TV any part of the day and it distracts the mind. May be we should go back to the good old days. The content was also better and there were so many relevant programmes. Now when I see all these soaps with over dressed women, I cringe. The women characters are either bitchy or hapless victims. There are no strong ones like Rajni or the woman played by Kavita Choudhary in Udaan ( I forgot the name)
It is sad.

Renu said...

I used to follow Buniyaad very religiously and at a time we got so attached to the was a masterpiece, every one of them was so natural and suited the character..I still remebr it so vividly.

hitch writer said...

ofcourse you should hurry up... !!! I want to read more of this... and more about the serials I remember...

remember Mungerilal ke haseen sapne ??

Swaram said...

Two serials which I don't remember watching or atleast hvng made out of it that time but sure my family did! They still talk abt these in family get-tos for sure :)

Sandhya said...

wordsndreamz: I wonder if we will ever barge into somebody else's house to watch TV or some movie, now. All the neighbours were friendly with each other. If we get into any sort of trouble, people were there to help. Now, we have got phone, car everything but no personal touch from friendly people. I am happy to read that many of you like to read about the age old serials of DD, Smitha!

IHM: Yes, they became friendly TV stars from very ordinary people like us. If you had said this at the time the serial was telecast, you would have been a VIP because you have met these stars, IHM!

The impact was so much that I used to address my children, 'arre puththaru, vaada!' Now, it is 'arre beendni, seekkiram coffee kudu' - Balika Vadhu impact!

Kavita: Yes, Hum Log was the first soap of our country, but with a lot of importance. Now, 'soap' word means cheap serials.

Aparna: We were following the rule of 9 to 10 pm TV time, too. You are right, Aparna - now everyone watches TV anytime of the day, eat in front of it, avoid phone calls during the serials, hate guests barging in... Every member of the family wants to see his favourite channel...the golden days are gone with the wind.

A couple of years back I saw one serial, though not regularly in Sahara one, which dealt with social causes. The name of the serial was 'Kadam', I think. Have you seen it?

Swaram: You were too small, then, Swaram! I am sure your parents must have been happy watching these serials!

Sandhya said...

Renu: Yes, I liked Buniyaad very much because of its strong storyline, Renu.

hitchwriter: Mungerilal is in the draft! I would like to read your version of the serials too, your angle. It will be interesting.

manju said...

I liked Buniyaad better than Hum Log. The story was very gripping!

One thing is for sure- we remember those serials, but not those of last year! Maybe there are too many nowadays- and many of them clones of each other!:)

Saritha said...

Excellent post sandhya

I remember ashok kumar used to sing few lines maybe a poem or something like that.

Very well written sandhya,will comeback to read it again :)

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing about these serials from mom and dad.. I guess they liked Buniyaad a lot. But I dont remember watching them. I was too small then. A nice nostalgic post! But I remember the DD metro ones like Superhit Muqabla etc. I will make my mom listen to the Buniyaad soundtrack. I am sure she will enjoy it!

Sandhya said...

Manju: Same here, I liked Buniyaad...the story, acting, everything was superb, than Hum log.

Yes, too many serials with which we cannot relate. Weak stories with unnatural acting by the actors.

evanescentthoughts: You were too small then, I know! I am sure your mom must have enjoyed it and if you ask her, she might express the same lines, I have written here!

Destination Infinity said...

I thought DD started to show only after '89 - bcos that's when I started watching! I guess ppl like me are only familiar with serials like Junoon etc! Yeah, we used to watch Superhit Mq religiously!!

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

Destination Infinity: All the youngsters who comment here are not familiar with these serials. All of you are familiar with 90's serials! Will write about them too!

And you thought DD started after you started watching, eh?!!

Anonymous said...

Sandhya, I saw Humlog as a rerun so remember it more. I don't remember Buniyaad much though have faint memories of Kanwaljit, Veerawali, Haveliram characters. I remember shows from Karamchand onwards.

Loved reading about Humlog and Buniyaad. Aah! to live 80s-90s again.

BTW what happened to the lady who played mother in Humlog? She isn't in the picture.

Sandhya said...

Solilo: Jayashree Arora, the Hum Log mother is in the video. She acted in the serial Chandrakantha later.

Buniyaad also had a re-run. They changed the black and white serial to coloured one, I think. I saw it, some years back. Buniyaad's story line was very good.

kanagu said...

superb series this one about doordarshan... :)

I am still having fond memories of it... my childhood life and DD can't be separated.... they have given some quality serials which these satellite televisions not able to give and keep us glued to it...

but sadly I don't know any of the serials you have mentioned :( one reason is hindi and the other is they are aired before I start watching TV :)

Most of the serials I have watched are dubbed ones... waiting to read other serials which I know in the next parts :)

Sandhya said...

Kanagu: I know all you youngsters are strangers to these series. The Chennai Kendra programmes came late for us in Hosur. So I will be writing about Hindi serials, mostly.

I have noticed while changing channels, Junoon and Shanthi serials' dubbed version.

My opinion was that Hindi serials were good and Tamil movies were good. So we enjoyed watching Tamil movies, mostly.

Solilo said...

Sandhya, I just saw that video. Lajjoji is there.

Seema Bhargav who played Badki is married to Manoj Pahwa from the same show. That little plump looking man in the video.

Solilo said...

I think I have seen re-runs of Buniyaad. I am not so sure. Even if I have still I don't think I followed it entirely. May be couple of episodes.

I remember liking Karamchand, Rajni, Hum Paanch, Kachchi Dhoop and some more of those Sunday shows inspired by Bengali stories.

Anonymous said...

another nostalgic trip,Sandhya!
Hum log and buniyaad,like I said in your earlier post are forever imprinted in my memory.Those days we didnt have tv,but my grandparents had who lived just blocks every night around 9 all of us used to gather in their house.It used to be like one festive gathering :)

Lajoji had such simplicity yet a tinge of mischief in her eyes!And Haveliram,the eternal JKG!

Nanhe used to be another drool-factor for many girls around then.Its sad he and so many others associated with the serial couldnt come out of that shadow.

Sandhya said...

Solilo: I saw Bhdki in some other serial later on but didn't know that she married Manoj Pahva! If you are interested to more about the Hum Log people, here, it is:

Like we now see mostly Rajasthani based serials (all the women bedecked with jewellery and designer sarees in the kitchen too!) and some Punjabi too, I remember watching Bengali based serials in those days with simply dressed women! Katha Sagar was very good with individual episodes with good stories. Will try to cover them too, here.

Deepu: Yes, Lajoji used to tease Haveli with a twinkle in her eye, always. We could feel the redness in his cheeks...such beautiful characters!

Nanhe in Humlog, Vijayendrea Ghatge, Kanwaljeeth and Mazhar Khan in Buniyaad were very popular with girls and women too!

radha said...

There was such excitement watching these serials - and at that time, we never had a TV. We would go to my parents place to watch the programmes on a black and white set. Those were the days!

Wini said...

hey maami,

your writing has improved immensely! :) awesome! keep writing! and I have seen a few episodes of buniyaad. Liked the title song a lot:)

Sandhya said...

Radha: You said it right, those were the days, really!

Ashwini: Thank you Ashwini! I tried my best to add the original title song. Couldn't get it in 'you tube'. That was a nice song. In this one, Anup Jhalota talks a lot.

SG said...

I am glad you posted this. Learned something new today.

karmpta Suresh said...

Hi, thanks for transporting us into the true golden era of indian television. As a schoolboy, Hum Log didn't interest me at first, but soon became an avid follower.

Here's a link to the first episode:-

How beautiful they were, in script, dialogues, the earthiness of characters. Within this 1st episode, each character gets well established in our minds. their chemistry is evident and most of the scenes are single takes (not several cuts with flashes and camera affects in between). Goes a long way to say that as modern soaps lack these skills of storytelling basics like good script, acting, direction and good editing. So instead, they rely on glamour and effects to add character to good looking models.

karmpta Suresh said...

Just found out now that this is an old thread, nevertheless...

Sandhya said...

SG: Thank you!

KARMPTA SURESH: Welcome to my space, Suresh!

Good to know that you enjoyed this post. These serials are classics and cannot be copied by anyone. Nowadays, as you say, nothing is done in a single take. The actors are not involved, mostly, with the characters. And we didn't have anyother distraction!

Thank you!

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