Sitting in the comfort of his bed room, as my son surfs scores of channels to view the programme of his choice on a flat-screen television with amazing clarity, I cannot help recalling my own growing up days .In the early 70s when television had not made entry into most Indian homes, a big Murphy radio (as big as a T.V) occupied a place of pride in our drawing room. Much to the annoyance of my father, every Sunday, with my ears glued to the radio, I would listen to Sound track (an hour long programme based on film story) at a volume so low that no one else could hear. That was the time when for all the news, views and entertainment, there was one and only one All India Radio to depend upon.
Television arrived with a big bang in our life. The city was buzzing with excitement when Pakeezah, a Meena kumari starrer, was to be shown by Jalandhar Doordarshan in its inaugural telecast. Unforgettable was my first date with T.V. Huddled together in our neighbour’s drawing room, we watched in amazement, the black and white movie in a dark room (lights were switched off to create the ambience of a cinema hall). Unmindful of the disturbance in the telecast and also the poor sound and picture quality; I must say we thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Towards the late 70s, when long antennae started dotting the landscape of the city, our excitement was tremendous when we purchased our first T.V set. A black and white television with wooden shutters replaced our grand old Murphy radio. But viewing television in those days was a challenging task, needing a lot of patience and manoeuvring. Every now and then somebody had to climb on the roof top to adjust the direction of the antenna; there would be a loud exchange of words regarding the picture quality. Often we would slap the T.V to adjust the picture. Eventually when the reception was clear, we would merrily settle down to watch the programme. Of course, there was not much to choose from.
Unlike today when there is round the clock telecast on dozens of channels, in those days it was Doordarshan monopoly with the telecast being limited to just a few hours in the evening. Yet, those few hours of evening telecast were eagerly awaited and watched with rapt attention. Imagine we were happy watching Krishi darshan! Of course my favourite was Chitraahar, a half an hour weekly programme based on film songs. Another fascination was the telecast of the highlights of the cricket matches giving a glimpse of the action on the field which we never missed to watch. Especially nostalgic are the memories of serials like Hum Log, Buniyad, Ramayana and Mahabharata which caught the fancy of the nation. During the telecast of Mahabharata, keeping all the activities on hold, people would remain glued to their television sets. No wonder, the roads looked deserted and a curfew like situation was created in the city during the telecast. I still remember, when on my sister’s wedding, the relatives won’t get ready until telecast of Mahabharata episode from Doordarshan was over. Such was the addiction to the serial!
(Published in The Tribune May 12, 2010)