A wistful or excessively sentimental, sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition is called as Nostalgia. Most of us have quite a few nostalgic memories of our childhood.
The memories of my childhood mainly centers around Radio, TV, Comics and Playing on the streets. Nothing unusual to most of those from my generation. But still, I felt I should pen down, rather key down my thoughts.
As a kid, I used to sit with my ears stuck to the stereo of the Radiogram. Listening to the radio was a favourite past time. I used to get excited when I heard a Rajkumar song in ‘Nandana’ having breakfast or having dinner and listening to SPB in ‘Brundavana’. Some of the gramophone plates we had were of Raghavendra Swamy songs by Rajkumar, Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, Pt. Ravishankar, Siri Siri Muvva, Shankarabharanam, Bhadrachala Ramadas Keerthanam by M. Balamuralikrishna.
It was in the same year that I entered school and Television entered Bangalore. The first movie it telecast was the Rajkumar starrer in triple role ‘Shankarguru’. I watched it in my neighbour’s house, sitting on the floor, eating chips. I remember watching many movies, both Kannada and Hindi, Cricket matches, Serials, Chitrahaar/Chitramala and Chitramanjari in my neighbour’s house till we got a BPL TV only when Seoul ’88 Olympics happened.
I was too young to understand Buniyaad, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi or Nukkad, which my sisters used to follow. Moreover I didn’t know Hindi. But I used to watch these and the Hindi movies on Sunday evenings just not to be left out. Ashok Kumar’s style as the sutradhaar of ‘Humlog’ is still a legend and always will be. Buniyaad was Ramesh Sippy’s baby. It launched Alok Nath into the big league. My neighbours used to give me and others who used to sit through all the programmes, snacks and never cursed us. At least that’s what I thought! Actually, they treated us like one among their family, really.
I used to wait for programmes on Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturdays, I used to wait for the 4 detectives to crack the mystery in Ek, Do, Teen Char. It used to be just after Didi’s Comedy Show which was really hilarious. Saturday evenings was when Giant Robot used to come into our homes… rather our neighbour’s. Giant Robot had a Japanese kid, who had an ultra cool watch, using which he could control the Robot. The Robot had rocket type propellers on his back so he could fly. What a relief it was for me and my friends when the Japanese kid activated the Robot! Those monsters were really frightening, to say the least.
A Kannada feature film was eagerly awaited by elders and youngsters alike. (Especially, if it was a Raj starrer). In between the movie, there would be ‘Vaarthegalu’ and a few ‘Adachanegaagi Kshamisi’. Actually, a few of us used to go into the neighbour’s house well before the telecast started. I distinctly remember that the TV screen would be filled with multicoloured bars (or shades of gray in a B/W TV) and a high pitch whining sound.
He-man used to be telecast on a Sunday morning at 9. He and his friends used to fight Skeletor and his gang every Sunday. An ordinary prince, He-man, used to point the sword towards the sky and shout, “I am He-man, I have the power” which made him the most powerful man in the universe. Mickey & Donald was another popular cartoon. ‘Sunil Gavaskar Presents’ was an interesting programme when Sunny would give tips on how to play cricket. At 11.30, national programme of music with a very catchy title music by some unknown fellow called A.R.Rehman would feature Yesudas or Bhimsen Joshi or some other musician. By noon, Rajani (Priya Tendulkar) and Charlie Chaplin would be there to entertain us. At One, a lady with chubby cheeks would come and make some gestures with her hand. That would be the news for the hearing impaired. At 1.30. an award winning feature film would be telecast. Would pray for a Kannada film. But it was usually Bengali, Assamese, Oriya or Marathi. So back to playing ‘Ice-pice’ or cricket.
So we would be playing cricket on the streets till ‘Vikram aur Bethal’ came in the evening. Bethal always used to tell Vikram a story, which would end in the form of a puzzle and ask Vikram to choose the correct alternative. The stories were rather interesting and this serial was probably inspired from the series in ‘Chandamama’. “Spiderman, Spiderman, friendly neighbourhood spiderman…” would come at 5. I remember my friend jumping from a parapet wall to another and breaking his leg trying to copy Spiderman.
A Hindi movie at 5.30 was not I would sit through fully. My father would call me out and tell me to come and study. I liked the ads preceding the film though. Washing Powder Nirma, Amul chocolates – a gift for someone you love, Thums up (Fun, Food, Friends and Thums Up), Laxman Sylavania with Asrani and Rakesh Bedi, Goldspot – the zing thing, Digjam, Vicco Vajradanti, Tata ka OK, Bombay Dyeing, Onida, Texla, Binatone, Binaca toothpaste that later became Cibaca, were some of the regular ads before the film.
I would be let to watch Siddharth Basu’s Quiz Time at 9 and “What’s the good word” by Sabina Merchant. Quiz Time was classy and involved the common man. It had the best combination of questions from every field and had generous rounds of audio and visual rounds that kept you riveted to your seat.
After Quiz Time, Great expectations, Discovery of India, Street Hawk, Nadia and ‘Bodyline’ serials became very popular. And I loved Mr. Spock in STAR TREK.
Later Kannada transmission on Sundays started between 8 and 9 in the morning. It had Munnota, Sutta Mutta and AS Moorthy’s ‘Jigi jigi jigi jigi jim bam bam bam bambeyaata’. Also, there was Chitravali (an actor would talk through with film clips of his/her choice) which I never missed.
By mid ‘80s, Ramayan and Mahabharath had become a national addiction. Cutting across all barriers, these serials made busy roads wear that deserted look. We lost many Jackfruits and mangoes, and clothes hung out for drying while watching these two serials. And it was not as if they did not deserve the attention they got. I had a strange habit when Ramayan was mid-way through. I used to write all the ads before Ramayan and then compare the earlier week’s number of ads. Seems silly now.
On week days, I remember watching UGC programme on holidays that would give some good basics of Chemistry and Physics. Our teachers told us this was a very good programme to watch. I feel now that for a channel which came to you free of cost, UGC indeed was a good attempt.
Lucy Show was funny. This was the first serial that taught us when to laugh by playing bits and pieces of laughter at regular intervals. Honi-Anhoni and Khile ka Rahasya were scary. The most scariest music I have heard till date is the title track of Khile Ka Rahasya. And the liveliest music is that of Malgudi Days. And I loved those cartoons by one RK Laxman. I was yet to read RK Narayan or see RK Laxman’s ‘You Said It’. (TOI came to Bangalore in the ’90s).The familiar faces in the serial and the fact that our own Master Manjunath was acting to the direction of Shankar Nag was what endeared us to this gem of a serial. And the locales (Agumbe and surrounding areas) were awesome. What fascinating stories. DD also had a motivating serial called “Udaan” based on the cop Kiran Bedi.
I used to love this message on the TV in both Hindi and English: “Rukhawat ke liye Khed Hai” and “Sorry for the Interruption” because DD used to show the German program “Telematch” during an interruption. Also this was common when there was rain during a cricket test or football match.
The most sacrosanct of them all, Samachar and The News was presented by Sunith Tandon, Tej Bahadur Singh, Minu, Geethanjali Iyer, Rini Simon (later became Rini Khanna), Usha Albuquerque, Komal GB Singh, all serious looking men and women who had to, well, deliver all the drab news. Among Kannada news readers, I remember Ramakrishna Upadhyaya, Krishna Galagali, Ishwara Dai Thota and Sabeeha Bhanu. ‘The World This Week’ with an unbeatable title track which made Prannoy Roy and NDTV achieve superstar status had terrific viewership. Remember seeing international ads of Cathay Pacific, Singapore and Malaysian Airlines for this programme. I have even recorded the jingles of some of these ads.
As for the ads, Pan Parag and Bajaj used to be popular then. Not to forget Kapil Dev’s “Palmolive Ka Jawaab Nahi”. The hottest ad in the early 80’s used to be of the LIRIL girl drenched under the falls wearing only bikini. The Rasna ad featuring a popular girl and Umpire Swarup Kishan was also unforgettable and so was “Gale mein kich kich” ad having a star-fish kind of germ in the throat. Lijjat pappad featured a couple of rabbits (puppets) munching pappads and saying it in the inimitable style, “LIJJAT PAPPAD, HA, HHA, HHAA”. Remember the ad where the school teacher asks pointing to a set of teeth drawn on the black board, “Bachho yeh hai hamare daanto ki banavat….” The Godrej shaving cream ad where Vivek Vasvani asks, “Sir which shaving cream do you use?” to a Clean Shaven Guy who tells “Great shave, cologne fragrance, Wife loves It!” Oh, by the way, does any of you remember a chocolate called “Double Decker”? It tasted like “Perk” (much better), and it came in an orange wrapper.
There were these two ads with Sunny and that baseball bat-wielding guy, another with Sunny and a young lady in a Egyptian museum, where she gets all dolled up as Cleopatra for Dinesh Suitings. And this ad is unforgettable for me because I had got one on my butt for asking “what is Nirodh?” (I must have been a 10 year old then) after seeing the ad saying “Sukhi aur vaivahik jeevan ke liye…Nirodh. Sirf 30 paise mein”.
Dada Dadi ki Kahaniya used to rock. Mungerilal ke haseen sapne, Byomkesh Bakshi, Mr. Yogi and Wagle ki Duniya were not to be missed. Later in my teens, when I became an avid fan of RK Laxman, got to know that Wagle was none other than Laxman’s Common Man. Byomkesh Bakshi was a take on Sherlock Holmes, done really well. The stories were brilliant and the acting superb. ‘Ajithana Sahasagalu’ in Kannada was also a detective serial I cannot forget. Other good Kannada serials were Sihi Kahi, Namma Nammalli, Crazy Colonel. Some very known faces were Vishwanatha Rao, Sihi Kahi Chandru and Geetha, Ramesh Bhatt, Girija Lokesh, Nagesh Yadav, Prakash Rai and Tennis Krishna as the conductor saying “AlKannanno” in his typical voice, among others.
I was a kid when TV in most homes was a B/W and chances were it was a EC TV/ Keltron/ Dyanora/ Texla/ Uptron or Solidaire. When Remote control was something James Bond used to activate a bomb through his watch. The heroes in Hindi were Amitabh, Jeetendra, Dharmendra and Mithun Chakraborthy. The heroines in Bollywood were Rekha, Hema Malini, Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman. Govinda, Chunky Pandey, Rati Agnihotri, Poonam Dhillon were considered newcomers. In Kannada, The top 1- 10 hero slot was Rajkumar. After that it was Vishnuvardhan, Ambarish and others. Top heroine was Arathi, Lakshmi, Manjula and Jayamala. Shivarajkumar and Sudharani were the new face of Kannada Cinema.
I was a kid when people earnestly watched TV commercials. When people wore a HMT, Seiko or Citizen watch.When the Indian cricket team had names like Yashpal Sharma, Madan Lal, Roger Binny, and newcomers like Azharuddin, Sadanand Vishwanath, Arshad Ayub, Sivaramakrishnan and Narendra Hirwani. The West Indians Gordon Greenidge & Desmond Haynes were the top opening pair in World Cricket.
I was a kid when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister and Narasimha Rao a Cabinet Minister. Gundu Rao was the CM. Then it was Hegde. (At one point of time, all the three Southern states: Karnataka, TN and Andhra had CMs whose name had ‘Rama’ in it. Ramakrishna Hegde, MG Ramachandran and NT Rama Rao). Rajiv Gandhi was on payroll of Indian Airlines and used to fly domestic flights. The word ‘Bollywood’ had still not stuck to the Hindi film Industry. Probably Margosa Road and Sampige Roads were the only ONE WAYs in Bangalore. If you had a telephone at home, it would in all probablity be a black one with a dial, which needed a finger to be inserted and rotated.(Mobile phone? Are you from Mars?)
I was a kid when Kishore Kumar was the top male playback singer in Hindi films. Lata Mangeshkar was the top female playback singer in Hindi films. The top news magazines in the country were: India Today, The Illustrated Weekly of India, Sunday, Probe and Onlooker. No english newspaper had color pages except a couple of supplementary pages on Sunday. All English newspapers had 8 columns except The Hindu which had 6. DD was the only channel that you could watch in the evening. Later in the morning (24 hours Channel? What’s that?). A Two wheeler meant an Atlas or Herculas. BSA SLR was a stylish bicycle and Enfield Bullet, TVS 50, Vespa, Lambretta and Bajaj were the in thing. A favourite past time for most boys used to be counting the number of Ambassadors or Premier Padminis passing by.
I was a kid when VCP-VCR, Akai and Dubai were all synonymous with each other. We used to hire one along from a near by shop. The shop fellow connected them for a day and charged 100 bucks. And we watched a wedding of a relative 3-4 times before returning it back. For many, going to an English movie was a status symbol. Bell bottom pants, step-cutting and large ‘cooling glasses’ were usually seen on a single person on MG Road. Air conditioners were for super rich, Cinema theatres or 5 star hotels.
There were numerous rumours of so called one-upmanship between Kapil Dev and Gavaskar. And of relation between Ravi Shastri and Amritha Singh. If you wanted to know how the Indian team was doing overseas, the only source was the DD news (besides the newspapers).
Some other images that I remember of the ’80s is Indira Gandhi’s funeral ‘LIVE’ on DD, a Sri Lankan military guy trying to hit Rajiv Gandhi, Maradona’s hand goal and Argentina’s victory in Mexico ’87. And the most memorable of them all: Kapil running behind to catch Viv Richards off Madan Lal! And I have preserved the SPORTSTAR issue of June 1983. And yes, Ravi Shastri and the Indian team riding the Audi at the MCG after winning Benson and Hedges Cup. After remembering this, I remembered Miandad’s SIX off Chetan Sharma at Sharjah.
Coming to other things apart from TV that got me hooked in the ’80s. I loved TINKLE with several short comic stories and where readers could also contribute their own. I especially used to like Suppandi, Anwar, Hodja, Tantri the Mantri, Kaalia the crow and TTT: i.e. Tinkle Tricks and Treats. Learnt to do lots of fun things from this page. On and off, I read Asterix and Tintin. Loved the glossy pages and the drawings by A.Uderzo and Herge.
Amar Chitra Katha, I suspect for millions of Indian children, including me, has been the biggest source of knowledge of Indian mythology and history. Between the time when we were not yet ready to read extensive treatises on these topics (not that we do now) but had started to read, this was an ideal tool to whet our imagination and quench the inquisitiveness that starts to permeate within us during those early years. Amar Chitra Katha is still the best way to educate oneself. Learnt all my classics from that.
Talking of comics, remembered this cartoon animated filler on DD. You can hardly find anyone of my generation who has not seen the “Ek Anek aur Ektha” animated movie. It was a short animation film targeted at National integration and was used as filler by DD at that time and, thanks to the fact that satellite TV wasn’t even there, was immensely popular. Other DD fillers that are popular to this day (not aired) are Mile sur mera tumhara, Baje Sargam (It featured both celebrity and the common man alike) and the one showing us not to spread Rumours. There were a couple of National integration songs made by Kannada DD like “Navellaru onde jaathi” and “Molagali Molagali” featuring most actors of serials and a few film stars like Vishnuvardhan, Bharathi, Sundara Krishna Urs and Shivaram.
Summer holidays meant that Carrom boards, Chowka-bhara, Pagade all saw the light of the day. Also, since we had a huge mango and jackfruit tree (as you might have got to know after reading here), myself and my cousins were up on the branches playing ‘Mara-Kothi’ (Monkey and the Tree) half of the time. Going for a movie meant a gang of nothing less than 15-20 of us. And we used to walk to the “Talkies” and munched groundnuts on our way back. Looking at the posters before the film was my hobby. It still is. One of the most memorable movies in my childhood days was the 3D film ‘Chota Chethan.’
How things have changed. Although now, we can watch the latest movies on our laptops and mini TV/DVD/Video combo units, that sense of joy of watching TV programs and movies on DD/ Theatres have gone forever.
I am feeling lighter after putting down my thoughts of my childhood and the days as it were in the ’80s. Hope you enjoyed reading this post. I am not able to remember if I have forgotten anything from the ’80s. If I have, the readers are welcome to post it in the comments.
As life takes us through lots of ups and downs, memories are something we hold on to and cherish as we grow up. Even as the world around us changes, there are times when we love to sit back and think of the innocent kids that we once were. It sort of puts us in touch with the child in us.
Remember some of those ’80s ads?