चंदा का स्कूल

मां के बगल में बैठी चंदा ट्रेन की खिड़की से पीछे जाते हुए पेड़ों को देख रही थी। क्या ये पेड़ भी हमारी तरह चलते हैं? उसने मन ही मन सोचा। और चलते हैं तो जाते कहाँ हैं? क्या उनका भी कोई अॉफ़िस होगा जहाँ सारे पेड़ मिलकर तय करते होंगे कि इस बार कौन सा फल उगाएंगे। काश वो भी उनके साथ जा पाती और उनसे कह पाती कि उसे आम बहुत पसंद हैं और वो पूरे साल आम उगाएं।

चंदा ये सब सोच ही रही थी कि तभी उसे एक चिड़िया नज़र आई, पूरी ताकत के साथ उड़ते हुए जैसे कहीं पहुँचने की जल्दी में हो। जैसे कोई ट्रेन छूटने वाली हो।और वो तितली जो अभी खिड़की के बाहर ट्रेन के साथ-साथ उड़ रही थी, क्या वो अगले स्टेशन पर सबकी तरह झट से ट्रेन में चढ़ पाएगी? एक बादल भी चल रहा था साथ-साथ। नीले आसमान की बड़ी सी प्लेट पर रखा बादल चंदा को बिल्कुल उसकी मनपसंद इक्कीम (आइसक्रीम) जैसा लगा, सफ़ेद और गुदगुदा। मन किया कि चम्मच लेकर चख ले थोड़ा सा। पर अभी नहीं, अभी तो वो स्कूल जा रही थी और सोच रही थी कि काश ये पेड़, ये चिड़िया, ये तितली और ये बादल भी उसके साथ चल पाते।

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Book Review – Karna – The Unsung Hero of the Mahabharata

There’s considerably less written about the the dark and brooding tragic hero of Mahabharata. Leadstart’s latest title, written by Umesh Kotru and Ashutosh Zutshi, focuses on Karna’s life after being abandoned by his biological mother Kunti.


The book starts on an interesting note, tracing Karna’s early life after being adopted by a charioteer and his wife. His early realization that he is different from other kids (Karna was born with natural gold armour and earrings) makes him aloof and a loner. He shows impeccable fighting skills as a kid which compels his adoptive father to take him to guru Dronacharya who trained Kaurava and Pandava princes. There he faces the ridicule and frustration of being a schedule cast, not fit to learn the skills reserved for the high borns. After a long spell of depression, Karna starts learning on his own and soon becomes a fighter of high caliber.

Karna’s fortune turns around after meeting Duryodhan, the eldest Kaurava prince and they form a strong bond of friendship. While Karna is made the king of Anga Desh, he still doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Being mocked by Pandavas and rejected by Draupadi, he swears to be on Duryodhan’s side and fight for him.

Karna is the most complex character of Mahabharata. He has high values but sides with Duryodhana who is on the wrong side of the dharma. He understands what’s wrong and right but is bound by duty and honour. Even after finding the truth about his lineage, he doesn’t leave Duryodhana to join his real brothers. This complexity makes the book worth reading. 

While the story pans out nicely in the beginning, it shifts it’s focus from Karna somewhere in the middle. The problem here is writing which lacks a certain flow. Scenes are repeated and the language isn’t casual or conversational, making it a heavy and at times tedious read. I would’ve loved to read more about his life as a king, husband, and father. I’ve also read folklores about the relationship between Karna and Draupadi, that they secretly and silently loved each other. The scenario would’ve added an interesting angle to the book.

Karna – The Unsung Hero of the Mahabharata is a decent read but not highly recommended.

गीली मिट्टी की ख़ुशबू

गीली मिट्टी की ख़ुशबू को petrichor कह दो तो कैसा बेग़ाना सा लगता है ना? एकदम फ़ीका सा, जैसे किसी ने शब्द का पूरा रस ही निचोड़ लिया हो। जो बात गीली मिट्टी से शुरू हो कर उसकी सौंधी-सौंधी ख़ुशबू तक पहुँचती है, वो petrichor कहने से एक लफ़्ज़ में ही ख़त्म हो जाती है। न कविता का रस आ पाता है और न ही पुरानी यादें ताज़ा हो पाती हैं। और यादों का धागा कहीं न कहीं भाषा से ज़रूर जुड़ा है। वो भाषा जो हम बोलते हुए बड़े हुए हैं, हमारी मातृभाषा।

मेरी मातृभाषा हिंदी है। हिंदी माध्यम में पढ़ी हूँ और हिंदी में ही सोचती हूँ। पर अब सिर्फ़ अंग्रेजी़ में ही लिखती हूँ। ऐसा नहीं है कि अंग्रेजी से प्यार नहीं है। लेखिका हूँ और इस भाषा से तो अब मेरा जीवन जुड़ा है। अंग्रेजी मेरी कर्म भाषा है और हिंदी मेरी धर्म भाषा। जब दिल की बात कहनी होगी तो हिंदी में ही कहूंगी क्योंकि उसमें वही सौ़धापन है जो गीली मिट्टी की ख़ुशबू में है।

कुछ यादें बचपन की

कल टेलिविजन आॅन किया तो एक बहुत पुरानी धुन और एक जानी पहचानी आवाज़ ने बांध सा लिया जैसे। टीवी पे तस्वीरें भी कुछ ऐसी थीं जो मन के किसी कोने को हल्के से छू गयीं। कागज़ की एक नाव चली जा रही थी, उसपर सवार मैं भी चल दी। नाव रुकी तो ख़ुद को आंगन में लगे मोगरे के उसी पेड़ के पास खड़ा पाया जहां से रोज़ सुबह नानी कुछ फूल तोड़ कर टीवी के ऊपर रख देतीं थीं। वो फूल दिन भर अपनी सौंधी-सौंधी ख़ुशबू से घर भर महकाते रहते थे।

आंगन के कोने में देखा तो कोई ज़मीन पर उकड़ू बैठा था, मम्मी थीं शायद। हाँ, मम्मी ही थीं। पंजो पर बैठकर, अखबार पर कटी हुई अमिया की फांके सुखा रही थीं, अचार के लिए। नमक लगी हुई, कुछ खट्टी कुछ मीठी अमिया खाने का मज़ा ही कुछ और था, और जो चुरा के खायी जाए तो कहने ही क्या। कुछ फांके उठाने चली ही थी कि घर के अंदर से कुछ मथने की आवाज़ आई। नानी होंगी, दही मथ रही होंगी। ताज़े मक्खन की खुशबू आ रही थी। मन हुआ कि और अंदर चलूं, यादों की कुछ और परतें खोलूं। रसोईघर के पास वाले कमरे में झांका, वहाँ आम और लीची का ढेर वैसे ही लगा हुआ था।

कोने में रखा पानी का मटका देख के लगा कि दो घड़ी वहीं बैठ जाऊँ, ठंडे मटके पर गाल टिका के थकान मिटा लूँ। पर अभी बहुत सी यादें टटोलनी थीं। बचपन के उस बक्से में झांकना था जिसमे कुछ किताबें, एक ताश की गड्डी, दो-चार कौड़ियाँ और कुछ रंगीन कागज़ रख छोड़े थे। रसोईघर की उस अलमारी को टटोलना था जहाँ नाना-नानी हर साल हम बहनों की पसंद के बिस्कुट और नमकीन ला कर रखते थे। अभी तो उस क्यारी में खेलना था जहाँ नाना हर शाम खुरपी लेकर बड़े प्यार से अपने पौधों की देखभाल करते थे। घर के पीछे वाले पेड़ से जामुन कहाँ तोड़े थे अभी। और वो बाग में आम का पेड़? उसके नीचे चारपाई पर बैठकर आम भी तो खाने थे। सोच की धारा के साथ बहते-बहते मैं चली जा रही थी कि तभी एक झटका लगा। यादों की वो नांव मुझे हाल में वापस ले आई थी। मेरी आंखें नम थीं और टीवी पर गुलज़ार साब की आवाज़ गूँज रही थी,

बचपन की यादों को फिर से बहाओ,
बड़ी चटपटी हैं ये फिर से पिलाओ।

Movie Review: Hunterrr

This post comes a little late but I finely found time to share my two bits on the most talked about Hindi film of 2015 so far.

Hunterrr is a slice of life film, a slice from a sex addict’s life. Mandar Ponkshe is your average middle class boy who grows up from a curious teenager to a horny ladies killer. Sex is a physical need, he says out loud going as far as comparing it to…well, taking a crap. He has little to do with the emotional side of the relationship. The men who were boys in the 90s will find a bit of themselves in Mandar. He charms girls his own age and seduces house wives. The trick up his sleave is knowing the needs of a woman or as he puts it “vaas lene ka”. He plays romantic games with college girl Parul (shy and awkward Saxena) but goes straight for the kill when he meets housewife Jyotsna, played by a fiesty Sai Tamhankar who knows what she wants. And, when he wants to settle he falls for the independent Trupti (played brilliantly by Radhika Apte) who’s open about her relationships, even physical ones.

Gulshan Devaiyah’s Ponkshe is a regular guy but with hidden passions. You might see him in local trains or even in your office but you might never find out about his nocturnal adventures. His relationship with Trupti is the most interesting part of the film. He never tries to play the hunting game with her, builds a bond and eventually falls in love. Radhika Apte lets her eyes do most of the acting, charming the audience with every scene.

Hunterrr is funny, touching at times and nostalgic but in no way demeaning to women. The women that Ponkshe supposedly “preys” on know what they want especially Jyotsna who makes the first move. The songs will touch a chord with all 80s and 90s kids who’ve grown up listening to disco king Bappi Lahiri and the qawwali rage Altaf Raja. Harshavardhan Kulkarni’s Hunterrr is fresh, light and a must watch.

P.S. – Please don’t watch it with your parents.

 

Book Review – Cannery Row

The best part of taking part in a #TCBCChallenge (you can know more about it here) is that you don’t know which book they’ll throw at you. This most of the time results in you finding out about a new book, author or genre. The March challenge for me was Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, deemed as a modern classic by Penguin. This is my first Steinbeck and now I am interested in reading more of his books. 


The novel is set during the great depression in Monterey, California. It revolves around the lives of people living in Cannery Row, a street lined with sardine canneries. There’s a bunch of eccentric characters in the book. Lee Chong – the shrewd grocery shop owner, Doc – a marine biologist who is afraid of getting his head wet, Dora with her flaming orange hair who owns the Bear Flag restaurant and runs a whorehouse. Mack, who is a leader and mentor of the homeless, family-less, and jobless men in Cannery Row who live in Palace Flophouse.

They’re standing low on the financial ladder but they survive. There’s hopelessness all around but like life that too passes. There’re no ambitions but life’s still good for Mack and his group. They’re not the most honest of chaps and do cause a little trouble here and there, but they almost always mean well. Like Doc says, “Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites without calling them something else.”

And then there’s Doc, who is generous, kind, and smartest man in Cannery Row. There’s a certain wisdom in what he says and does. Whoever knows him is indebted to him and wants to do something nice for him. That’s something which brings the whole town together. Steinbeck has summed up his character in these words, “It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” 

Their life makes you smile, laugh and get upset over a bunch of lost frogs. It’ll make you call a few friends over and throw a party, not party for a reason but part because you want to. 

Book Review – HiFi in Bollywood

In one of my previous reviews I had said that the only thing better than watching films is reading about them, getting the inside stories and finding about what went into the making of that spectacular piece of art. While there are many such books, there are very few fictions using Bollywood as their backdrop. HiFi in Bollywood is one of those few.
Rayhan, a 20 something from Mumbai dreams of directing films but succumbs to his dad’s will and ends up studying finance in the USA. Desperate to get out of an arranged marriage and pursuit his ambition, he comes back to Mumbai. But Rayhan Arora is not an angry youth who’d go the indie way, his dreams involve blockbusters, superstars and song sequences. A quick phone call and few lies lands him the job of an assistant to a superstar director.  He encounters a strew of characters in this journey – his pld maid’s love struck daughter, a local goon, homosexual director and an ego-ridden filmstar. After a few filmy twists and turns Rayhan manages to prove the eternal Hindi film dialogue true, ‘sab theek ho jayega’. 

HiFi in Bollywood is Rishi Vohra’s second book – he has also written Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai – and has more realistic end. The writing while not mature, has a natural flow. He knows Bandra well and weaves the little quirks of the suburb in his story.
The book is a light read but does come with its flaws, The biggest one is that as a reader I couldn’t make and emotional connect with the characters. The book only scratches the surface of the Hindi Film Industry, referred to as HiFi by the insiders. The idea of Bollywood here is based on a few cliches and stereotypes which disappoints a bit.
Book: HiFi In Bollywood
Author: Rishi Vohra
Publisher: Jaico
Price: Rs 299
Pages: 247

Who stole my speech?

1989 – A writer was threatened for writing a novel. He spent major part of his life hiding from these religious fanatics but kept writing.


2011 – A magazine office in France was bombed for publishing a cartoon. It picked itself up, drew again, got attacked again in 2015; continues to draw.

2014 – An author was threatened by religious groups. He withdrew all his work and vowed never to write.

I don’t know which one of these is braver. The one who protects himself by hiding but keeps writing? The one who continues drawing with head held high? Or the one who kills the author in him? For me a writer who gives up writing is as brave as the one who continues doing it despite death lurking over his head. It takes strong will to let go off that very thing which has been a part of your being. It needs courage to just shrug. I can never imagine the turmoil of that writer who will never write again.

My next question is, who are these people who’re stealing our freedom of expression, our speech. Terrorists? Religious fanatics? Or those trolls who choose to abuse you instead of disagreeing politely?

As the world gets more opinionated our tolerance level for these opinions seems to be decreasing. I felt the brunt of it a few months ago when I reviewed a book here on the blog. My book and movie reviews have always been subjective while the restaurant reviews are more objective. While the review wasn’t completely negative i did talk about those things too which I didn’t like. I wasn’t spared. A bunch of ‘anonymous’ readers ganged up against me and abused me. Of-course, you can do a lot when you’re hiding behind that garb. 

It did disturb me for a while and lowered my will to write more. But do I have the courage to stop writing? No. So yes, I admire Perumal Murugan for taking that step but wish that he hadn’t. For the rest of the world who want to shut the writers/artists up, all I can say is that, keep trying.

Book Review – Korma, Kheer and Kismet by Pamela Timms

Food has been a favourite topic for writers and bloggers lately. There are reasons for it; it’s easy to connect with food, everyone has a food memory to share and it’s something that people can never get enough of. Food writing is now not limited to just blogs, there are regular newspaper columns and books with people writing about their favourite food memory, their cooking preferences, their kitchen essentials etc. etc. More and more bloggers/food journalists are publishing their books. The question is, is the content good enough to deserve it’s own book? My opinion would be no, not in all cases. Especially not when there are random memories which do not add anything to my reading experience.

Thankfully, Pamela Timms’ Korma, Kheer and Kismet doesn’t fall in that category. Pamela, a food blogger writes a column in Mint Lounge and the book is about her street food experiences in Old Delhi. It starts with a ghee laden, spicy mutton korma at Ashok and Ashok – the description of the food leaves you hungry and ends with the mysterious daulat ki chat – I faintly remember eating its Lucknowi version makkhan malai as a kid. The book is studded with recipes which is a bonus.

Every street food shop, dish comes with a back story or a memory which is fascinating. The best two chapters are the ones about mutton korma and daulat ki chat because of all the mystery surrounding these two legendary dishes of Delhi. The chapters with food and its history make for a more interesting read. Rest of it sounds like a day in the life of a regular small town Indian. Whether it’s celebrating Diwali in a joint family or buying vegetables from a market instead of a mall. A younger, mall loving urban generation will definitely find these stories exotic.

Old Delhi has always made for a charming premise for a book, be it food or history. Authors have always loved describing the old city’s dusty roads, crowd and chaos. So does Pamela when she visits the street side shops to try her favourite food. But she bumps into a cart, avoids kids running after a kite, almost steps into a puddle a little too much making it a tedious read at times. And one element that’s missing is humour. While there are glimpses of it she never goes all out to make you chuckle. I understand that it’s not the genre she is looking for but we can all do with good food and good laugh.

Ignore the few repetitions and Korma, Kheer And Kismet is a good, light read. Especially for the food lovers.

Doordarshan – The Days Of Yore

Emmy (Awards to celebrate TV Series of the West) just got over and left me thinking about the television scene in India. Will we ever create television content which will be globally acclaimed or an industry worthy of an award show of its own? Then I realized, we already did? We created a history of great television shows in 80s and 90s. Sadly, there were no awards then.

The TV shows of that era were created by the likes of BR Chopra (Mahabharat), Gulzar (Mirza Ghalib) and Shyam Benegal (Bharat Ek Khoj) where everything was minutely sketched out, even the opening and end credits. A 13 episode series had more powerful story to tell than the soap operas of today which run for five years. The directors and producers turned to literature for content which took authors from book shelves to TV screens. Some of them introduced us to various cultures across the country.

The actors too were NSD (National School Of Drama) and FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) pass outs who made the characters real and believable. It was the time when film actors too did not hesitate from appearing on TV, and it wasn’t to promote their upcoming films.

These shows are etched in our memories and many nostalgic odes have been written for them. However, most of them talk about the famous ones like Ramayan (1987-88), Mahabharat (1988-90), Hum Log (1984-85), Buniyad (1986), Ye Jo Hai Zindagi (1984), Nukkad (1986-88), Malgudi Days etc. Here’s a list of the less written about fiction TV shows of the yore, some that I remember and some that I recalled while searching on the net. While some of them had great content, direction and production value others got us hooked purely because of the novelty factor and diverse genres.


Mirza Ghalib (1988)
This show is not less written about, given that it was directed by the legendary Gulzar and with another legend Naseeruddin Shah portraying the title role. I’ve read somewhere that Naseeruddin Shah wanted to play the great Urdu poet, but Gulzar’s first choice was Sanjeev Kumar. The duo shared great chemistry and had given classics like Koshish, Angoor and Parichay. Unfortunately, Sanjeev Kumar passed away and the role fell in Naseeruddin Shah’s lap who immortalized the character. The story followed Mirza Ghalib’s life, his marriage to Umrao Begum played by Tanvi Azmi and his alleged affair with courtesan Nawab Jaan played by Neena Gupta. Shafi Inamdar essayed the role of Mir Taqi Mir, another great poet of the Mughal era.

Mirza Ghalib introduced me to crisp Urdu shayari even though I was too young to understand it. Ghalib’s ghazals and nazms were composed and voiced by Jagjit and Chitra Singh.

Bharat Ek Khoj (1988)
I’ve always thought that Bharat Ek Khoj directed by Shyam Benegal is the benchmark for television content creation. The series was based on Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s book The Discovery Of India which traces 5000 years of Indian history in a dramatic way. Tales of Mahabharat, Ramayan, Chanakya, Ashoka The Great, Kalidas, Akbar, Shivaji were all portrayed by the likes of Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Tom Alter and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. The narration by Roshan Seth who played Nehru (he also played Nehru in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi) made the book completely transpire on screen. The title track with its Sanskrit chant and haunting score still remains one of my favourites. 

The Sword Of Tipu Sultan (1990-91)

Way before when creating magnum opus for television became a thing, Sanjay Khan created history with his saga based on the book by Bhagwan Gidwani. The serial introduced us to the great warrior and king of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. It was grand with elaborate sets, tight script and some really good acting. The music was composed by Naushad; I still remember the title track.

Kile Ka Rahasya (1989)
Ye hai abhishapt kila…
sadiyon purana…
bhool kar bhi isme mat jaana…

This tune followed by a woman’s scream on television every Tueday night was clue for my sister and me to run in the bedroom, hide under the blanket and sleep. From what I recollect the story was about a haunted kila (fort) where people would get lost, walk out with a hand print of blood on their backs and other such spooky stuff. While the end of Kile Ka Rahasya was a bit disappointing, the title track was haunting enough to spook the hell out of us. I don’t remember the actors except for Veerendra Saxena (remember Jassi’s dad in Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin?). There’s not much info on the net about the director, producer or the plot either.

Reporter (Late 80s)
Way before Shekhar Suman became famous for his rib tickling comedies, he did some serious roles in films and television. His serial Reporter was one of them where he played a crime reporter cum detective on a lookout for stories who ended up solving those crimes at the end of the day. Makrand Deshpande played a key role of Shekhar Suman’s informer with a love for sandwiches.


Tehkikat (1994-95)
Easily the second most popular detective series after Byomkesh Bakshi, Tehkikat was directed by Shekhar Kapoor and Karan Razdan. The detective duo Sam D’silva (Vijay Anand) and Gopichand (Saurabh Shukla) were a humourous take on Sherlock Homes and Dr. Watson. 

Space City Sigma (1989)
Our very first sci-fi TV show, Sigma was inspired by Start Trek; I don’t clearly remember. The show was full of mysterious space elements and desi versions of Captain Kirk and Spock. Space City Sigma fascinated all of us 80s kids who hadn’t watched Star Trek yet.

You can read more about it here.

Indradhanush (1988-89)
I vaguely remember Indradhanush, a sci-fi cum fiction series which got the kids hooked. All I remember is that the show involved a bunch of school kids, computer (which was a huge deal then) and time machine. Karan Johar, the famous Bollywood director, was also part of the cast.

Mr. Yogi (Late 80s)

I am Y.I. Patel, Yogesh Patel”, is how Mr. Yogi played by Mohan Gokhale introduced himself to his would be brides. One of the best television comedies, the show was about an NRI Yogesh Patel meeting 12 girls of different Zodiac signs to find his perfect match. Om Puri played the sutradhar or narrator who took Mr. Yogi’s story forward.

The show was hilarious with new and quirky characters in every episode. I also remeber watching the cake fight for the first time in this series. Years later Ashutosh Gowarikar made a movie What’s Your Rashee based on the same concept. The TV serieal and film both were based on Madhu Rye’s book Kimball Ravenswood.

Gul Gulshan Gulfaam (1991)
While researching for this post I asked people on Twitter what they remember from the TV shows of 80s and 90s. @nrucho (Nrupal Choudhari) replied saying that he remembered Gul Gulshan Gulfaam for it introduced him to Kashmiri words, kahwa (Kashmiri tea) and kangdi (earthen pot with coal to keep yourself warm). I too remember the show purely for these reasons. Shot on location, the show took us to the lovely valley, lakes and houseboats.

It was the story of a family making their living with houseboats and how terrorism affects their profession. The sons of the family decide to move out of Kashmir for a better life which creates a divide in the family. Parikshit Sahni, Radha Seth, Kanwaljeet, Pankaj Berry, Kunal Khemu played the lead roles.

Lifeline (1987)
Way before Grey’s Anatomy got us hooked with all that melodrama in hospital wings or House got us confused with all the medical terminology, Indian television had Lifeline. Based on the lives of doctors and the relationships between doctors and patients, the show was genuine with least amount of melodrama. There were many stories inter weaved and new characters and cases kept coming and going.

The srong cast included A.K. Hangal, Pankaj Kapur, K.K. Raina, Ila Arun, Tanvi Azmi, Mohan Joshi, Renuka Shahane and was directed by Vijaya Mehta.


Farmaan
My only memory of this show was of the very gorgeous Kanwaljeet grabbing an unsuspectin Deepika Deshpande and kissing her. So, while researching for this post I found the series online and watched it again. Only to redevelop a major crush on Kanwaljeet’s Azar Nawab. Suave, dapper, dressed in tailor-made suits and cravats; he was the man of our teenage dreams.

The show was based on Rafia Amin’s book Alampanah. Aiman Shahab (Deepika Deshpande) arrives in Hyderabad as an assistant to an old begum. In the old haveli Aiman finds hidden secrets, false prides, diminishing culture, some friends and begum’s son Azar Nawab.

The serial didn’t have the garishness and exaggeration that usually represents the nawabi culture in films. The poetic charm of the old city, crisp Urdu and authentic locations kept it real. And above all, the love-hate relationship and Mills And Boons like romance between Azar Nawab and wide eyed Aiman was a major draw. Kanwaljeet’s Azar Nawab was dark, brooding, complex but upright; he was our original Christian Grey with great sensuality and minus all the kink.

You can watch all the episodes here.

Aarohan
Another brilliant show based on the life of a trainee in Indian Navy, played by Pallavi Joshi, her struggles, friendships and relationships. The cast included Girish Malik, Harsh Chhaya, Shefali Patel (then Shetty), Tarun Dhanrajgir and R Madhavan in a small role. Sadly. the serial was never concluded.

Mitti Ke Rang
The title track of this serial is so fresh in my mind that I can hum it even now. Based on Mohan Rakesh’s short stories, Mitti Ke Rang had a new story every week. These stories were of common people, their lives, hopes, despair, loneliness and all sorts of emotions.

Dekh Bhai Dekh (1993)
If Basesars of Hum Log was our favourite dramatic family, Diwans of Dekh Bhai Dekh was the most loved comic family. Whether it was Farida Jalal’s confused Suhasini bhabhi, Bhavna Balsawar’s crazy chachi or Shekhar Suman’s fun chachu aka Samir, they all made us roll with laughter. And who can forget the adorable Kareema (Deven Bhojani) with his halwe jaise gal, button jaisi aankhen.

The show was mostly shot inside the Diwan house where all the madness took place. There were new characters (mostly Liliput in different avatars) introduced in every episode which added to the craziness. 

Swaraj
The opening credits of the serial had all the actors, dressed like their respective characters, walking towards the camera. The track “swaraj chahiye, swaraj chahiye. Marte dum tak humein, swaraj chahiye”, playing in the background would set the tone of the whole serial which was just brilliantly written.

Swaraj was one of the best television content made on the lives of Indian revolutionaries like Chandrashekhar Azad, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Ramprasad Bismil, Ashfaque Ulla Khan, Sukhdev and more. The serial had a tight script never losing track of the main story and characters. Unlike films based on the same subject, the makers of Swaraj never used romance and melodrama to popularise it. The actors were mostly newcomers and fresh NSD and FTII graduates who played there roles to the T. Rajesh Shringarpure (Sarkar Raj fame) essayed the role of Bhagat Singh while Ravi Gosai played Chadrashekhar Azad.

Amravati Ki Kathayen – Directed by Shyam Benegal, the series was based on Sahitya Academy Award winning stories.

Ek Tha Rusty – Based on Ruskin Bond’s The Room On The Roof. Cast included Raj Zutshi and Bhanu Uday.

Chekhov Ki Duniya – Based on Anton Chekhov’s stories, this series was directed by the Delhi theatre veteran Rajat Kapoor (who also co-wrote Jaane Bhi Do Yaron)

Pachpan Khambe Laal Diware – Based on the novel of same name by Usha Priyamvada with Mita Vashishth and Aman Verma in lead roles.

School Days – It was termed as the DD version of Hip Hip Hurray which ran parallel on Zee TV. Since I didn’t have cable connection at home I watched it every Sunday morning. It was a cool show with school kids fighting over girls, leadership, sports etc. etc. Later they introduced another school and added more characters. Don’t remember how it ended exactly.

There’s not much info on the net on most of these serials and there are so many more like Hum Panchi Ek Daal Ke, Mujrim Hazir, Sukanya etc. just lost due to neglect. We can just hope that Doordarshan does something to bring the good serials back, release them on DVDs or just post them on youtube.