In a country dominated by Bollywood, some Indian TV series have been able to leave an indelible mark in the minds of the masses. That is in itself a great achievement. The Indian Television Industry today is perhaps as popular as Bollywood itself among its audiences. This is why we must take a look at some of the best television serials that have captured the fancy and attention of Indian viewers over the years.
It was a soap opera aired on the Zee Entertainment television in the mid 1990s. It was a tale of love, extra marital relationships and the complexities. It was one of those serials noted for mature acting by the cast and superb handling by the makers. Children were prevented from watching it but the parents couldn’t help marvel at the intense adult drama.
A crime thriller which first aired in January 1998, CID has been going on for over 14 years. ACP Pradyuman, Daya and Abhijeet have become household names and a favourite among the children. It is a record in itself how the Indian TV series has sustained for so long and still going strong. Probably the universal appeal of the show from children to octogenarians is the reason for it thriving through so many changes in the Indian television scene.
A cult serial that amazed and awed the Indian audiences, Shanti was a drama series which first aired on Doordarshan National in the year 1994. It is a classic and to this day is referred as one of the best. The story of two friends and their past which is deeply hidden and guarded until a journalist Shanti arrives and things go awry for them. It was one of those serials which was never missed by Indian families and had a phenomenal following. More importantly it made Mandira Bedi a household name.
Dekh Bhai Dekh was a Hindi sitcom produced by ABCL and directed by Anand Mahendru. It starred actors like Sushma Seth, Navin Nischol and Shekhar Suman along with an ensemble cast. The story of three generations of a family living in Mumbai, it was very much appreciated for its comic relief. It was a situational comedy and was aired on Doordarshan since 1993.
Today many may detest even watching serials such as this but in 2000 when the Virani family entered the Indian households it created an instant revolution. It was the onset of Saas-Bahu sagas and with it began the success of Ekta Kapoor in the Television Industry. It was a favourite of the family and would be watched by one and all. Ekta Kapoor, Tulsi and the K-brigade stared off with this and hence surely worth a mention in this list.
A break from the usual Saas-Bahu saga, Balika Vadhu came as a breather to the Indian Television Screens and instantly caught the fancy of audiences. With an intense subject and wonderful cast, this Indian TV series has carved its own place among all past and present serials in the Indian Television History. The plot, which revolves around child marriage, and the consequences are superbly orchestrated and complemented by great acting by the cast making it a brilliant watch.
In the year 2000 came an Indian TV series – more of a reality show – which captured the fancy of millions across the nation. It was hosted by none other than the larger than life, charismatic Amitabh Bachchan. With half the battle won by the unparalleled host, the rest was taken care by the format which provided the opportunity for ordinary men and women to fulfil their dreams. It was so successful that it influenced the book ‘Q&A’ by Indian author Vikas Swarup and eventually the Academy Award winning movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
The first soap opera to have graced the Indian Television, Hum Log, is truly a landmark when it comes to some of the best Indian TV series of all time. On 7th July 1984, it first began telecast on Doordarshan which was the only channel available during those days. It ran for 156 episodes and at the time it ended it was the longest running television show to have graced the Indian Television Industry. Ashok Kumar a veteran actor on Bollywood would appear at the end of every episode of Hum Log and end it by reciting Hindi couplets complementing the ongoing situations.
Apart from Ramayan, Mahabharata was an immensely popular Indian TV series which aired from October 1988 upto June 1990. It was based on the Hindu epic of the same name and was produced by BR Chopra and directed by Ravi Chopra. A special feature of the show was where as voice of time narrated the series at either the end or the beginning of every episode. It was broadcast after Ramayan and enjoyed if not more but equal status in terms of capturing the attention of the Indian audiences.
It could well be given the title of the most successful epic TV series of all time in the country. It had a phenomenal reach with people all across the country gathering near television sets to watch the classic saga of Ramayan. It was created, written and directed by Ramanand Sagar and aired from January 1987 upto July 1988. Being an adaptation of ancient Indian epic Valmiki Ramayan and Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas, it wasn’t surprising to see how the show caught the fancy of the masses in spite of its poor production quality.