‘Magic’ or ‘Idiot’ box ? DOORDARSHAN v/s PTV

By Rashmi Talwar

Chaudhary Hashmat Khan in PTV soap telecast from Lahore
The”50th anniversary of DD” in 2009 really amazed me! Was DD (Delhi Doordarshan) born before our generation in the 60s emerged? I recall the first encounter in late 60s when neighboring tiny-tot friends grandly held court about TV meaning –’Tele-Vijon’ –a ‘magic box’ that popped up movies, cartoons, songs and what-not.
Word spread like an animated wild fire about the fairies. Every Lil-one wanted sunflowers waiting for the feathered beauties to deliver the ‘enchanting box.
But Things moved fast and before we knew it our father got the 1st TV in the entire neighbourhood in 1969. A ‘pie’ company one, almost like a mini almirah with a fattest bottom that refused to sit on the ordinary and had to be provided with a luxury spread. An aerial installed and everyone stared starry-eyed as pictures and sounds emerged. Although coined much later the jingle of Onida TV commercial “Neighbor’s envy Owner’s Pride” aptly fitted the state of affairs.
Before JD (Jalandhar Doordarshan)entered our homes and lives, it was the neighboring PTV that dominated the silver screen in the border areas of Amritsar, Punjab and high reaches of Himachal Pradesh. We often used to envy the Lahori Pakistanis and their American fare on TV, delectable cartoons ‘Popeye the sailor’ and glued-to-seats soap operas “Time Tunnel”, “Bewitched”, “Star Trek” , “Lost in space”, “Six million dollar man” , “Bionic woman” , “Lucy show” , “CHIPS (California highway petrol)”,”Planet of the Apes” ,”Different Strokes”. The visually mutilated lip-locks in foreign soaps (conservative PTV!) actually helped in watching TV with parents and elders. That (soberity !) amazingly still holds true for some border farmers who stall any attempt by their young, to subscribe to cable or dish TV and religiously watch PTV and JD till date.
The recall, virtually put me in a childhood reverie when games like marbles, guli danda, hide and seek, seven plates, staapu or football would see a disappearing act, by the dot of time for a serial. By then almost everyone had a TV Set after the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
During the ’71 war, PTV was used in ample measure to spew venom at India. Soon after the war, the Indian government woke up to the harrowing reality of influence of negative publicity and a swift damage control exercise came in the form of JD channels that entered our homes in the border areas, with the first movie “Pakeeza” then “Mugle-E-Azam” and rocked the boat for PTV.
But then merely “two” energy pills hardly weaned away the audience from PTV which in contrast presented aesthetically beautiful weave of its own soaps “Ankahi”, “Tanhaiyaan”, “Uncle Urfi” immensely popular “Waaris” story of dominating Pakistani tribal War-lords; or the laughter riot of “Sona Chandi”, “fifty fifty” and even the shining Toyota to be won in quiz programme “Nilam Ghar” by Tariq Aziz besides the ghazals of Noor Jahan, Abida Parveen, Gulam Ali, Mehandi Hasan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mussarat Naseer’s wedding songs “mathey te chamkan val..”,Mallika Phukraj and her beautiful talented daughter Tara Sayeed.
No longer were we the poor country cousins of our Delhi counterparts because we enjoyed a choice of 2 Channels while they sufficed with only DD. Slowly JD picked up with “Chitrahaars” and “movies” followed by the first serial “Buniyaad” and subsequently “Hum Log”. Although we enjoyed them but frankly they were no match for the classy and slick productions of PTV.
But then 78 weeks of “Ramayan” in 1986 followed by “Mahabharat” in 1988 were unprecedented addictions that finally won the war for DD against PTV. PTV pittered out after private Indian channels followed CNN and BBC into Indian homes, rechristening the ‘magic’ box as the “idiot box”.

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Exercise isn’t about struggling and pushing yourself;
    it’s about being wholesome and having fun at the identical time.

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  2. Your style is very unique compared to other people I have read stuff from.
    Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just
    book mark this page.

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  3. Yes, Doordarshan TV is definitely an idiot box. Actually, there are only a handful of TV channels that shows better serials and TV episodes.

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  4. woot, thankyou! I finally came to a site where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so annoying having to go from page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of people just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thankyou very much for the info anyway, much appreciated.

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  5. Posted by majid ali on November 26, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    i love my ptv i love its serials rahain.laag.neend.bandhan 1996 and much more

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  6. @Rizwan …truely it is passage through childhood

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  7. I LOVED reading this. Brought back so many memories of my childhood that it’s not even funny! I remember watching dramas starring Marina Khan and Shehnaz Sheikh and having a kiddo-crush on them haha. And I miss “Andhera Ujala”!

    I would visit Lahore every few years back in the early 90s and it’s amazing how what you’ve described was present then too! The competition between DD and PTV haha.

    Ahh man. I miss childhood.

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  8. Posted by Fraz Qamar, Pakistan on February 3, 2010 at 5:16 AM

    I am Surprised to know that you surely enjoyed ptv as I did. Great Dramas, cartoons, English films.

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  9. @ Vishal …so true …..Pak television dramas were the ultimate …..where u could see meaningful serious dramas u also had the choicest laughter riots …hang-on quizes…to say the least

    During my trips to lahore i searched for characters that we saw in pak dramas …true to reality ! I found a kohl eyed ‘spata’ (policewalla) …a ‘mast maula’ several women who talked like “hari chadar meli si’ aur the sona chandi types …and one was a rambo rambo ‘jaan’ rambo….
    It fascinated me no end to see the commonalities in our food, culture …etc ….but more thrilling were the contrasts esp….the typical lahori humour was …OUT OF THIS WORLD …… thanks for writing comment on this piece

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  10. Posted by Saanjh on January 6, 2010 at 4:38 PM

  11. Posted by Vishal on January 4, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Well, My vote goes to PTV as being a kid I have enjoyed loads of there shows Morning 7:45 cartoons and evening 5 pm smurfs then waiting for Dhuan, Marvi and Neelam ghar, Uncle Sargham and yeah Guest House “Rambo Rambo John Rambo”…

    Man the nostalgia remains and I am sure will remain there in our hearts always however Jalandhar DoorDarshan tried to give us some of the best shows as well like “Lifaafi, parchave and on DD Surabhi,Ramayan,Byomkesh Bakshi,Malgudi Days,Tehkikat,Mahabharata” and lots of music programs as well but the long waited programs were always new year program.Which I believe no longer exist or if they exist they have lost the golden voices which use to be there showstoppers.

    But still the JD and DD helped binding the India of that time and not indulged in showing the programs like Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi or other wierd shows where a female gets married n number of times and then come back to her real love aaah what a pity.

    My take is that though the dd,jd and ptv era is about to end but the magical moments they have given us will never end.

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