Today it would be quite hard to imagine television with only one channel, a few select programmes and movies only on Saturday (regional) and Sunday (Hindi). But that was Doordarshan and that was our only entertainment during high-school and college days.
There were of course quite a number of interesting programmes and serials like Chhayageet / Chitrahaar, Surabhi, Hum log, Ramayan, Mahabharat etc; But apart from these, I remember some distinct features of DD.
Being a government run channel, this only mode of entertainment would come to an almost stand-still during the periods of state or national mourning. Whenever a prominent office bearer (or an ex-office bearer) left for his/her heavenly abode, a mourning of 1 or 3 or 5 days (depending upon the office of the deceased) would be declared. And then the entire population would sigh en-mass and drown in a profound gloom.
Reason? No telecast of entertainment programmes during that period and there would be only slow instrumental music, devotional songs or agricultural programmes. (Nowadays, with movies, songs, ads blaring from all the corners of all the channels we don’t even realise if there was any mourning)
But as a silver lining to the cloud, we got a chance to hear some really soulful devotional songs. I still remember artist like Juthika Ray singing Mira bai’s bhajans – Nainan mere tumari oar, Mane chakar rakho ji and others. Her renditions were truly beautiful and heart-touching. Cannot forget the serene lady singing the mellifluous melodies with downcast eyes. A rarity today, I have hardly heard those bhajans once the days of ‘Only DD’ were over. (yes, probably these are available on YouTube, but that cannot create the same magic).
Another peculiarity that I remember is the vote-counting time after the elections. In order to announce the counting progress, DD would telecast a movie-marathon of at least 4 to 5 movies on those days. This was a real bonanza. In today’s time it may sound quite odd, but those were the days of single screen theatres, that too few and far between (no multiplexes like today).
DD was the only or major source of filmy entertainment and so everybody used to wait for those post-election days. We would wait more eagerly than the election contestants or the political parties for the vote-counting.
Hmm – those were the days!
Linking to the IndiSpire Edition: 190.