Where did DD trip and fall?

Out of Ideas

Where did DD trip and fall?

Not because of any ‘mental maths’ class that we had to attend then (like children do today), or the chat date with our friends in other countries, but because of a very special programme that used to come on television.

The half an hour slot from 8 to 8.30 pm was when Chitrahaar used to be telecast. The programme, which had around six movie songs being aired, was a rage with teenagers because that was the only way to catch a glimpse of what the film industry was dishing out. Back then, neither did we have satellite channels dedicated to music, nor were the songs available for preview on the Internet.

Thinking of it today makes one wonder how we survived without staying connected 24x7! Ask any teenager today, and they will either laugh in disbelief or label us as outdated. But that’s how it was. Doordarshan was the only form of entertainment available to us apart from All India Radio. And heavy censorship and government control ensured that we could see only what the corridors of power wanted us to. So when colour television transmission started in 1982, and shortly after that the second channel of Doordarshan came on air, we started thinking that it was an overdose of entertainment. The pleasure of actually being able to switch to a different channel and watch new programmes was a fantastic feeling. And mind you, TVs did not have remote controls back then. Tuning in to a particular frequency for watching that channel had to be done manually. But there was a strange satisfaction and joy attached to that.

Few years down the line, a new programme started on Sunday mornings at 7.30 am. Titled Rangoli, it was also a bouquet of Hindi film songs and became the best reason to wake up early on an otherwise lazy Sunday morning! After all, we couldn’t miss out on Rangoli could we?

Recently, the national channel completed 50 years of its service to the nation. While there are innumerable things to crib about the national channel, the positive aspects to it are also not negligible. Think of the list of blockbuster serials that it has produced till date: Hum Log, Buniyaad, Malgudi Days, Shanti, Vyomkesh Bakshi, Indradhanush, Fauji, Circus, Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Udaan, Yogi, Surabhi, Bharat Kee Khoj, The Sword Of Tipu Sultan, Param Vir Chakra, Gul Gulshan Gulfaam, Hello Zindagi, Khali Haath, The World This Week — the list could go on. Weren’t all these an integral part of our growing up? Didn’t they define entertainment for us? Sadly, things have changed today. One fails to remember when we watched Doordarshan last.

So where did DD lose out? Why don’t we visit it as often as we used to? The answer is obvious — lack of quality and variety. It simply lost out in terms of adapting itself to the new order of things with hundreds of satellite channels jostling for viewer attention. This, despite DD being one of the largest broadcasters in the world in terms of infrastructure and number of studios. It may sound unbelievable, but DD is also one of the most tech-savvy channels. It has started operating with Digital Terrestrial Transmitters and more than 90 percent of the country’s population can view its feeds today. If the I&B Ministry is to be believed, before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Doordarshan will also be available in the High Definition format.

So will the good old days be back? One doubts. You may have a lot of technical finesse and infrastructure, but in the television industry, content is king. Sadly, the broadcasters who once gave us diverse and fantastic programmes like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Hum Log and Surabhi seem to be running out of ideas on that front.

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