It’s been quite a number of times that I’ve heard people whining over the quality of serials on Indian television, specifically mocking Tamil megaserials (a neologism whose copyrights should be given to Tamil television media).It is on one of those very moments that I thought why don’t we pause and rewind to the serials in the pre-megaserial era. These might not be a match to the grandeur of Game of Thrones or brilliance of Breaking Bad but they are sure to strike a chord with the viewers, accentuating our culture and way of life. They are our very own.
Here is a list of few highly watched and watchable series amongst others.
7) Malgudi Days /Swami and Friends
Directed by Shankar Nag , it is based on the popular story series by RK Narayan. A dubbed version was released in Tamil. It had Anant Nag, Girish Karnad, Master Manjunath among others in lead roles. The various short stories painted a picturesque image of the fictious town of Malgudi,a symbol of post-independence rural India, in our minds. It was complemented by its enchanting theme music, which makes you reminisce and relive the serial even now.
Sahana is the sequel to the 1985 K Balachander movie Sindhu Bhairavi. A sequel to a movie on television screen was a novel attempt then and still is. The teleserial explores the lives of Sindhu, JKB and Bhairavi –the lead characters of the movie, years later. Though the original artistes were not retained due to various reasons, YGe Mahendra and Anuradha Krishnamoorthy proved to be befitting replacements.
5) Marma Desam
Marma Desam was a 5 part thriller series produced by K Balachander and directed by Naga/CJ Baskar. The show had a lot of popular TV actors including Delhi Ganesh, Chetan among others. Thriller genres have been experimented in teleseries ever since with some intriguing temples and rituals unheard of, but the series set the standards for a thriller series so high that I am afraid they’ve not been met yet.
4) Ramani Vs Ramani
Directed by Naga and produced by K Balachander(KB), it revolves around a story of a married couple. It scores high on humour quotient, having the audience in rolls of laughter. The series’ comical take on marriage blues in a bourgeoisie setting, is very easy to connect with. The series also had a second part owing to the humongous success of its precedent.
3) Kathai Neram
Kathai Neram was a series directed by veteran director/cinematographer Balu Mahendra. It was based on short stories by various writers, mainly Sujatha. Each episode was a short story. The depth in its single episode cannot be replicated by 1000 episodes of today’s mega-serials. The fact that a story got over in a single episode made it all the more watchable. Balu Mahendra brilliantly finished a story in 30 minutes in an era when television media was averse to the concept of short films.
Produced by BR Chopra ,it is based on the Hindu epic Mahabharata.It got the Indian audience glued to their seats as soon as the clock struck 10 and ‘Idhu daan Mahabharata kadhai’ echoed across houses . The cast selection was a big big plus, with the characters still being remembered by their onscreen names. The character’s delivery of eloquent dialogues at length might be old fashioned, the graphics were well below mediocrity but still Sundays weren’t complete without a dose of philosophy from this Hindu epic.
1) Chinna Papa Periya Papa
Feuds between mothers-in-law and daughters-in law have been an inextricable part of the Indian social scene. Chinna Paapa Periya Paapa gives a hilarious viewpoint to this fragile relationship. Sripriya and Nirosha’s lead roles remain etched in the viewers’ minds. The role of ‘Pattabi’, a drunkard, was so beautifully essayed by MS Bhaskar that you immediately remember it at the mention of the serial. The series was remade several times trying to capitalize on the success garnered by its first part but they were no match to the original.
There are many more of the likes of Tholaindhu Ponavargal , Meendum Jeeno and few teleserials produced by KB not included in the list.
We hope that more such serials are made harnessing the power and scope of this medium. When we juxtapose the quality and resplendence in serials from the west with the Indian content and values,nothing less than remarkable will be achieved.
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