Ride down memory lane - The golden old days of watching Doordarshan

Do you feel nostalgic remembering those days of watching Doordarshan channels on television and miss those days? This article is an attempt to relive those golden days and make readers recall those moments.


Just try to go back in time and recollect if you have ever done following in your past -
  • When you used to climb the rooftop to adjust the direction of that long zig-zag antenna (technically called Yagi antenna) to get the clear reception on your TV.

  • When you were one of those unfortunate persons, who did not have TV at home and used to peep at neighbor's door at the time of your favorite program, with an expectation that your neighbor will allow you in to watch TV.

  • If your answer is yes, then I think you will enjoy this ride along with me to the old and enjoyable days of watching the Doordarshan channels on TV.

    It is aptly said that "old is gold" and "less is more". Same truly applies to the days when watching TV meant only watching those two to three Doordarshan channels. Channels were limited but even a single channel had so many enjoyable and interesting programs to offer which is presently difficult to get even with 100 channels of the cable TV network. Nowadays we merely keep on surfing all the channels with the TV remote and ultimately find ourselves returning to the same channel we started with. So let us now for time being close our eyes and try to take ourselves back to those old days of watching Doordarshan and relive that enjoyable experience.

    The golden era of Doordarshan

    It is a lazy Sunday morning and the roads look deserted. You must be wondering what might be the reason? Have riots taken place and curfew been imposed? Well, don't worry, everything is fine! The reason is that it is 9 am on a Sunday morning and people are all indoors to watch their favorite epic "Ramayana" on Doordarshan. Very true, isn't it? We used to gather to watch "Ramayana" and "Mahabharata" serials on TV at any cost leaving aside all our work. Even if people were traveling and away from home they made sure that they watched them from wherever they were. It is hard to believe that entire Sunday we kept ourselves glued to the TV sets watching just a single channel.

    Next, it's time for the children's detective serial and we all as children were so excited about it. The show goes on and varieties of serials like 'Sherlock Holmes", family comedy serials come one after the other the whole morning keeping the whole family engaged.

    It's 1:30 PM now and time for the regional movies catering to the people speaking different languages in India. The evening was a fun time and it started with the famous "Vikram and Betal" which everybody enjoyed watching.

    Then came the attraction of the week and it was Sunday's "Hindi feature film" at 5:45 pm. The whole family gathered in front of their TV sets to watch the film and people who did not have television at home gathered at their neighbor's house.

    Evening 7:30 pm was interval time for the Hindi film and the housewives made sure that they prepared dinner by that time and freed themselves to watch the remaining part of the film.

    After enjoying the film it was time to know about happenings around the globe and there came the famous "Samachar" at 8:45 pm. The news was so concise, to the point and well presented that it covered all the happenings globally in a short span of 15 to 20 minutes. This was in quite a big contrast to the present day private news channels which keep on hammering and hyping only on one particular news for about half an hour or so.

    After the whole day of entertainment and news, now it was time to give your brains a jolt. "Quiz time" hosted by the famous Siddharth Basu followed at 9 pm which was so educative and we as kids and youngsters learned a lot from it. Whole fun packed Sunday went away like a flash without realization. It was like a yummy meal where different tasty cuisines were served on your plate one after the other.

    Weekdays too were fun. We all remember the famous Bollywood song program called "Chitrahaar" on Wednesdays and Fridays which we all watched with great enthusiasm. I think no one will also forget the famous TV serial "Malgudi Days" which presented a very simple and down to earth stories from a fictitious village called "Malgudi". It revolved around a child character called 'Swami" who is hard to forget even now. Every weekday 9 PM was a serial time and there were the variety of serials shown ranging from family drama to comedy.

    Two mega serials I remember are "Hum Log" and "Buniyaad". There was a famous comedy serial also which made us hold our stomach and laugh and it was "Yeh jo hai Zindagi". I wonder if you remember the serial called "Nukkad" which presented some good stories in poor people dwellings with some of the very unforgettable and enjoyable characters.

    Who would forget 31st December night programmes on Doordarshan? Everybody used to settle down in front of their TV sets to watch new year eve programs. These programmes were so balanced and had all sorts of stuff in them right from music, skits, comedy and so on. Compare this to the present day new year programs on different channels where we hardly get anything worthwhile to watch even among so many channels.

    So right from weekdays to the weekend, watching Doordarshan was a treat to the eyes.

    Detoriation of Doordarshan with time

    We all know that as the era of Cable television and private channels began, viewership slowly shifted from Doordarshan to these channels and Doordarshan programs started losing sheen gradually. Most of the program sponsors shifted from Doordarshan to the private television channels which resulted in Doordarshan program quality deteriorating with time. Presently I do not watch Doordarshan so I am not sure about the quality of programs as of now. It is possible that some programs are still good but overall compared to the earlier days now Doordarshan channels are not that attractive

    A social aspect about it

    It is worthwhile mentioning here a social aspect which was attached to viewing Doordarshan programs on television in those golden old days. It was the time when television was just starting to get popular in India and it was common to find many households not possessing TV. Such people gathered at their neighbor's house which had a TV to watch their favorite programs. An important point to note was that neighbors who had TV at their home were so cooperative, kind and adjusting in letting guests in their house to watch TV even at cost of their inconvenience. On the days of important programmes like Sunday movie or a cricket match, people gathered in large numbers at their neighbor's house to watch TV and in the process interacted with each other and socialized. People spent fun moments in interacting and watching TV together. If we look into this situation in the present day scenario things look very contrasting. Nowadays though everybody has a TV in their house and people do not need to depend on their neighbors for watching TV, still that welcoming attitude and socializing behavior have vanished. Imagine if in present scenario somebody does not have TV and he or she wishes to watch TV at their neighbor's house I don't think neighbors would be welcoming them. In fact, they would make humiliating faces at their guests.


    Currently, Doordarshan seems to be lost in the crowd of the private channels and we get to see specialized channels for each and everything nowadays like sports, news, music, travel etc. In today's scenario, most of the people seldom watch Doordarshan channels. It remains to be seen whether Doordarshan can fight the competition from the private channels and improve itself to once again gain its lost viewership.

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    Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao23 Nov 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

    We should appreciate the author for bringing back our good olden days when we used to enjoy small black and white TV with an antenna tied to the tallest tree in the back of our house. Sunday regional movie and the Telugu movie songs on Friday evenings at 8.30 PM were the hot favorites of our house. No moving out on Sunday with special programs like Ramayana, movies and then other programs being telecast. They used to telecast Kavisammelanams(Meet of Poets) and we used to enjoy that program very much. Those days Doordarshan used to bring very good programs which are very good to watch by sitting with the family. We used to go to our neighbors to see the TV in the initial days. Later on, we had one. On festival days they used to telecast very good special programs. Now, because of many other private channels, DD has lost its specialty and it has become one among all. My sincere thanks to the author for taking me back into my good old memories.

    Author: Chitra25 Nov 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

    This article of yours itself made me go back to those good old days. Yes, an antenna could be seen in some houses. It was a symbol of pride. On Sunday evenings, there was a Malayalam movie telecasted in Doordarshan and all the people in the neighborhood will get together at the house where there is a TV and will watch the movie together. It was so much of fun but those days will never come back again. Now almost every room in a house has a TV, with different connections. Theaters are there in every nook and corner. This was not the case earlier then, hence all of us loved Doordarshan and its programs. But now, it is no more considered to be best the channel. Children these days don't even know about that channel.

    Author: Neelam25 Nov 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

    Although I haven't experienced the golden era of Doordarshan as mentioned in the article
    But in my childhood when my mother used to cut our cable connection during exam times we used to watch many shows of Doordarshan even when after exams she used to again connect cable connection.
    Some of these programs are- Shaktiman, Shaklaka boom boom( which was my favorite) and later Aryaman.
    I really miss those days when I used to watch Shaklaka boom boom and used to fantasize one day I will find such a pencil with which whatever I draw comes to a reality, even believed that Shaktiman is real funny childhood memories with Doordarshan.
    And all these serials mentioned I have listened their mention when my parents began to talk about their past days and how television was a completely new thing for them?
    And how fond of these serials were the people at that time?
    Especially - Ramayana and Mahabarata (which are really very well made in accordance to technology of that time as I have seen them later as repeat telecast on Star Utsav and Epic)

    Author: Natarajan26 Nov 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

    An excellent article down the memory lane for all those who grew up seeing the grainy images on the first TV sets of India. We used to watch DD programs on a black and white TV with a colour lid (three stripes of colour) fixed on top of the TV screen. We never had any options and the entire family would be very happy. Some of my favourite programs were The world this week and the English news (we used to have classic newsreaders whose English pronunciations were excellent - Gitanjali Iyer, Roy etc). Chitrahaar and carrot chomping Karamchand were equally good. Those days the limited channels meant less choice and less need for changing. I'm not sure whether Old Fox was earlier or later (on Sunday mornings), it used to be a treat to watch the almost noble looking detective solve mysteries. The catchy music tunes were great and initially, the telecast time was fixed. There used to be a fixed image with white and black stripes in various rectangles until the program started.

    The problem now is too many channels, too much of details and it's extremely difficult to even to get a single news channel that gives a simple summary of what's happening today. Maybe NOT being spoilt for choices and nothing to compare made Doordharshan always memorable for people like us.

    Author: T.M.Sankaran29 Nov 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

    This article is very much interesting and brings back those good olden days when the world could be seen from our drawing room. To begin with we could see only in black and white colours. It took a few more years to see things in colour as it is.
    As given in the referred article the day on which the same was brought home started connecting. The antenna was taken to the terrace and fitted testing a quality reception. We were much delighted to watch various programmes telecasted. However most of us found it difficult to follow the Doordarshan programme because of language problem. Though at school we had studied Hindi the same was not sufficient to follow the conversations.
    Still we watched the serials such as Nukad, Buniyad, Malgudi days, Humlog, etc. However the Chithrahear programme was welcomed very happily. There was one day on which Malayalam film songs were telecast. We eagerly waited for that week day (Fridays, if I remember correctly). When a TV station was started at Trivandrum we were happy since News telecast started in Malayalam. More Malayalam programmes also started soon. Colour TV came only later. Of course only when Private channels came the living room became brighter.
    It was one occasion I recollect during the black and white days. It was nothing but the death of the Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the related functions which were telecast live. The ceremonial parade connected with the journey of body to the cremation site was a long affair. Since no houses were having TV on those days several people rushed into my home. My drawing room was full and people were sitting on the floor. We the hosts could not watch the ceremonial parade. This was one instance which I recollect even now, when TV came into my home.

    Author: Umesh01 Dec 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

    A very nice and elaborate narration by the author about those great nostalgic days of TV.

    The attachment to a particular entertainment facility and the gadgets therein is decided by the technology of that time. I remember my father had a transistor and we used to listen to it various programs like songs, sound-tracks of movies, Binaca geetmala, BBC hindi service etc and we were so thrilled about it that we were always completing our school homework and things like that in time to enjoy those great entertainments. In those times TVs were not there.

    Today smartphones are there. The time earlier devoted to TVs is now being given to smartphones. So technology is deciding our ways with the media.

    Author: K Mohan04 Dec 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

    I remember the good olden days of Doordarshan which had the stereo type programs and yet we have patronised it in great way. There was only one television in the colony and that too with a Kirana shop owner and he used to keep the tv for the public viewing and thus during Wednesdays, we used to see the Chitrahaar program which is the song and dance sequences from the Hindi films. Later the same program has been changed to Rangoli and that comes on Sundays. I would also recollect that Bathen Filmon ki was another program which used to deal with making of a film and how the shooting was done and how the actors would fumble in the dialogues and so on.

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