Saturday, August 21, 2010

Two gems from the archives of Indian television

Once upon a time, long long ago, before gils was born, there was a time when there was only a single TV channel in India. Of course , it was government controlled - Doordarshan was the only channel and those who want to experience that torture can tune in to CCTV today. The powers that be in Doordarshan decreed that prime time viewing must be Krishidarshan (a program on agriculture, for those unfamiliar with the concept). But even in that era there were some gems which evoke nostalgic memories. This post is about one of them.

Apologies to the non Indian readers of this blog - second successive weekend post on a very Indian matter. But then when you search for something for long  and finally find it, you can't help but go a little over the top. I've been looking for this TV clip on the internet for a few years with no success. Finally found it. Yesterday  So the post naturally follows. Promise to desist from purely Indian matters for a while after this.

There was an organisation, now defunct, called the Lok Sanchar Seva Parishad. God knows what it did. But it did produce two masterpieces which were aired regularly on TV in the mid eighties and which people of that vintage will immediately recall. They were supposed to promote national integration, but instead of a boring , yawn inducing homily, they came up with two masterpieces.

The first was called Spread the Light of Freedom. This is what I had been searching long for. Indian sporting legends carrying a torch to lilting music composed by Louis Banks (ignore with a smile the passing resemblance to Vangelis in Chariots of Fire). It was a massive hit and every TV viewer could recite the names of all the sports heroes who featured in that film. Some familiar and some not so. Try and guess who they are - I'll post their names in the comments section after a couple of days.

The second was Mile Sur Mera Tumhara. Same theme of national integration, but a different style. This too was a big hit and you could hear people humming the tune under their breath.

After these two productions, Lok Sanchar Seva Parishad sank without a trace. But they achieved the unique distinction of a government department having made a few hearts beat a little faster. Happy viewing.