Our Jungle Book and Our Doordarshan
Have you ever been on a time machine?
I have. Yesterday, as I sat inside a multiplex savouring Disney’s Jungle Book, my fantasies of Mowgli were fanned up again. As the memories of yesteryear evinced nostalgia I was virtually transported to several years ago. The years of a sound blaring large box with a front glass called TV, the years of tweaking an antenna to catch the fleeting signals and a booster to boost the reception . The years of black and white television and a much colourful life.
|An old Television set|
|Roof top antennae|
Those were the days when life was at peace with an only channel available Doordarshan. The Doordarshan signature tune and montage are still engraved in my memory .
The whirling orange cloud and a melancholic background tune had a magical appeal to my senses. Moving colours and a rhythmic sound well inside the comforts of a house created a mesmerizing effect. How so brooding was that music but it brought a hope of 6 pm Sunday show or a 4 pm matinee.
|Doordarshan vintage logo and montage|
My mother tells me how the telecast of Ramayana brought the nation to a standstill. People would assemble around the sole television set in the neighbourhood to watch the show. I don’t remember about other famous serials like Buniyad, Hum Log, Nukkad etc. Probably because during HumLog was telecasted my parents did not possess me or a TV set.
It was in 1993 that a TV set became an additional member of our family. The animated Jungle Book series empowered every child then with an hourly licence on Sundays morning to boldly turn on TV in the presence of their parents, which was next to impossible on other days. It had cast a spellbound effect on children of 90s. What was once only a part of imagination and fantasy was in real before our eyes. We could actually see a lion, a bear , a black panther and all wild animals speaking in our dialect. We could call them by their names –Bagheera, Sher Khan, Baloo as just another friend. Animals reflected emotions like us, they were no strangers. Mowgli became our first superhero. The one who can befriend all animal, fight with a tiger, hunt with his Panja, a wooden boomerang. In school, several 30cm long wooden scale were sacrificed to make a Mowgli ka Panja. The song Jungle jungle baat chali hai … nevertheless became an anthem among kids.
What was only feared was an electricity cut or a
strong wind that turned the antennae away and the screen to a standstill colours of rainbow. Then the best among us would run to the terrace and tweak the antennae, another capable hand would turn the knob of booster, a few successive yells between the two and Ta-da….it was back.
With Mowgli bloomed several other memories of animated series like Ghayab Aya( India’s first made in India animated series), He-Man, Spiderman, Disney Hour-TaleSpin, Duck Tales etc.
|He-Man and The Master of Universe|
Toons like Ek Anek Ekta, where a sister sings a story about birds and a hunter to her younger brother about significance of unity, or the Tree of Unity, where a man plants a sapling and is joined by others in nurturing the sapling to a tree, were shown only as a filter but made a significant impact to our senses. Tell me who can forget the Ek chidiya, Anek Chidiya song or Aya Aya Potli baba from the puppet show Potli Baba Ki.
|A still from Ek Anek Ekta|
|Ek chidiya Anek Chidiya|
|Potli Baba ki Kahani|
|A still from Malgudi Days|
were Alif laila, Malgudi Days, The Sword of Tipu Sultan. My brother and me would waggle broom or a stick or anything long and strong at each other as the sword of Tipu Sultan. Another serial that gripped the imagination of young and old back then was Chandrakanta. It was with Chandrakanta that every episode ended with a sense of what next and made us wait desperately for the next one.
Sunday was eagerly awaited also for Rangoli- a music series and a 4 PM Sunday matinee which brought the whole family together. Almost every time it was a black and white film with an unrecognizable name. If it was not B&W then the screen made it so. But to a hungry eye, anything in any form was a delicacy. My mother did all dinner preparations in time before the film began. She also ensured a homemade snack ready for all of us during the film was aired. The snack and the film were inseparable.
In the late 1990s, a sci-fi series Shaktimaan, the Indian answer to offshore superheroes like Superman and Batman awestrucked the young minds like never before. Kids believed in the superhuman powers of Shaktiman so much so that they jumped off buildings hoping that Shaktimaan would save them. My young cousin would point his finger upward and revolve around making a whoosing sound and then pretend that he was invisble like Shaktimaan.
The onset of Dish TV flooded the minds of Indian viewers with 24 hrs cartoon and movie channels. It, no doubt, created multiple options for viewers but it took away the pleasure of waiting for an entire week to catch a glimpse of one's favourite serial, the pleasure of sitting and watching a matinee with an entire family.
As the deep orange cluster of clouds revolved in the screen to eventually reveal the sun and the Doordarshan logo, I knew the backdrop tune was of Saare Jahan Se Achha . But I could never comprehend why the tone was so mournful. As if Doordarshan longed for something, probably it knew that its days were numbered. But the Dooraarshan gave an unmatched viewing experience to the formative generation of 80s and 90s. It's masterpieces are now the souvenir of memory like the song :