101 Classic Old Doordarshan Serials You Grew up on (1980s - 1990s)
Popular Yesteryear TV Shows
Do you remember the old Doordarshan (DD) shows that you watched so affectionately? Those days were special and will not be forgotten.
The magic that they had can't be replaced. But we have a savior - the internet. We can experience many of the classics as they are uploaded online. Some even have their home video DVDs.
Serials like Alif Laila, Malgudi Days, Shrimaan Shrimati are especially close to my heart. Many others like Surabhi, Bharat Ek Khoj, Mahabharat were highly informative. And several others were extraordinarily entertaining.
So, let's have a recap of the best serials of the 80s' and 90s'. Nostalgia is the order of the day!
1| Alif Laila (1997 - 2002)
- Lead: Shahnawaz Pradhan, Seema Kanwal
- Episodes: 260
- Directed by: Anand Sagar, Prem Sagar, Moti Sagar
- Description: The hit series where Shah Nawaz played the lead character excellently.
- Why do I remember this: The storyline of this was magical. There was always a feeling of wanting more when an episode ended. Of course, the opening song was marvelous.
2| Buniyaad (1986)
- Lead: Alok Nath
- Episodes: 105
- Directed by: Ramesh Sippy and Jyoti Sarup
- Description: Buniyaad went on to become a hugely popular serial which showcased the life of a common man after India's partition and its aftereffects. Alok Nath was selected for the prime role of a freedom fighter. Some other known faces are Dilip Tahil, Goga Kapoor, and Soni Razdan.
- Why do I remember this: I saw this when Buniyaad was re-aired after its initial successful run. And I'm glad I saw it. Master Haveliram's simpleton life entangled with tragedy connected viewers in many ways.
3| Byomkesh Bakshi (1993)
- Lead: Rajit Kapur, KK Raina, Sukanya Kumar
- Episodes: 34
- Directed by: Basu Chatterjee
- Description: The crime detection series based on the novel written by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. The show still has a cult following in which Rajit Kapur played the lead role. Well crafted episodes with attention to every detail make this one a treat to watch.
- Why do I remember this: I've always liked suspense thrillers. I don't remember any other crime detection serial which is liked by one and all. More recently, CID tried doing the same for which it was successful only for the initial years. Of late, it is turning into more of a comedy.
4| Bharat Ek Khoj (1988)
- Lead: Om Puri, Roshan Seth, Tom Alter and many others.
- Episodes: 53
- Directed by: Shyam Benegal
- Description: Shyam Benegal's direction brought forward to us the history of India. The series has altogether 53 episodes showcasing the story of caste formation, Ramayan, Emperor Ashoka, Kalidas, Akbar - The Great, and many more. The vivid and simplistic approach to showcase India's history is impressive.
- Why do I remember this: This is the best history lesson you or your child can get. Even to the point, our school teachers used to advise us to watch this for a better understanding of India's history.
Did You Know?
This was based on a book named Discovery of India written by Jawaharlal Nehru - the first Prime Minister of India
5| Chandrakanta (1994 - 1996)
- Lead: Shahbaaz Khan, Shikha Swaroop
- Episodes: 130
- Directed by: Nirja Guleri
- Description: This was based on the novel written by the same name. Though, this ran into controversy as the book writer's grandson accused them of misrepresenting concepts. Only after the Supreme Court's order, the show was reinstated.
- Why do I remember this: Because of the title song is sung by Sonu Nigam. Of course, we were small to know that it has been sung by Sonu Nigam. But the title song was really great which goes like this.....so sing along...
Chandrakanta Ki Kahani,
Yeh Mana Hai Purani,
Yeh Purani Hokar Bhi,
Badi Lagti Hai Suhani,
Lohgad Vijaygad Mein Thi Takraar,
Lohgad Ka Tha Jo Rajkumar,
Chandrakanta Se Karta Tha Pyar (2).
Listen It Now
6| Circus (1989)
- Lead: SRK, Renuka Shahane, Sameer Khakhar
- Episodes: 19
- Directed by: Aziz Mirza & Kundan Shah
- Description: Enter Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh played the lead role of Raghavan, a Malayalee circus artist. Other actors who went on to make a name for themselves after this are Renuka Sahane (love-interest of Shahrukh), and Ashutosh Gowarikar (SRK's friend?).
- Why do I remember this: It was later in the years, that SRK had become King Khan of Bollywood. Many discussions on SRK started or ended praising his humble roots and how he is a self-made man who started with serials like circus etc.
Watch An Episode of Circus
7| Chanakya: An Epic Saga (1991 - 1992)
- Lead: Chandraprakash Dwivedi
- Episodes: 47
- Directed by: Chandraprakash Dwivedi
- Description: This series is based on the eminent thinker, teacher, philosopher of the 4th century. Apart from that Chanakya was one of the earliest political thinkers and served as the chief adviser of emperor Chandragupta Maurya. This epic serial has had the honor of getting many international awards. A total of 47 episodes was aired in 1991 on a weekly basis.
- Why do I remember this: The master strategist that Chanakya was and his teachings can be used even in the 21st century. Therefore, after long completing its run and re-run, you could see many people with the book Chanakya Neeti.
8| Dekh Bhai Dekh (1993 - 1994)
- Lead: Shekhar Suman, Farida Jalal, Navin Nischol etc.
- Episodes: 66
- Directed by: Anand Mahendroo
- Description: The complete family drama-comedy show which will definitely bring a gushing smile on your face - and that's guaranteed. Diwan family was indeed deewani.
- Why do I remember this: Is Rang Badalti Duniya Mein...Kya Tera Hai Kya Mera...Dekh Bhai Dekh. I remember the character of Shekhar Suman where he used to recite his dialogue non-stop, the character of Gareema played by Deven Bhojani, and will you ever forget the short man Lilliput? And do you remember the credits at the start showing Jaya Bachchan's name zooming in the front?
Dekh Bhai Dekh - Episode 1
9| DuckTales (1990)
- Lead: To me, every character is the lead.
- Episodes: 100
- Directed by: Jymn Magon
- Description: The popular cartoon series was imported from the USA and did very well in India and many other countries.
- Why do I remember this: It feels so amazing to watch this again. If I remember properly, it was shown in the evening between 6.30 to 7.00. Running from school just to watch Uncle Scrooge in his quest for accumulating more wealth was amazing. The adventures of Uncle Scrooge, his amazingly intelligent nephews - Huey, Dewey, and Louie, with Launchpad are being remembered with great admiration and fondness.
10| Flop Show (1991)
- Lead: Jaspal Bhatti, Vivek Shouk
- Episodes: 10
- Directed by: Jaspal Bhatti
- Description: The only 'misdirected' show in Indian history. The series only had 10 episodes which seamlessly made fun around the life of the middle-class Indian.
- Why do I remember this: The reason for me, like you, is Jaspal Bhatti. Without a doubt, this is Jaspal Bhatti's most remembered show.
11| Fauji (1989)
- Lead: SRK, Vikram Kapoor, Amina Shervani
- Episodes: 13
- Directed by: R.K. Kapoor
- Description: Shahrukh Khan shot to fame after this serial happened. Still being remembered by many people for the role of Abhimanyu Rai. Great emotions, acting, writing, and direction.
- Why do I remember this: Another one of SRK which is often mentioned in his interviews of the early 2000s. I am no critic of SRK, but it is hard for me to understand why he doesn't do films such as this.
Fauji Is the acting debut of King Khan on TV
12| Hum Log (1984)
- Lead: Vinod Nagpal, Jayshree Arora, Seema Bhargav
- Episodes: 154
- Directed by: P. Kumar Vasudev
- Description: When this started it became a huge hit and also went on to run for a long time. A total of 156 episodes were shown which was pretty historic even by international standards at that time.
- Why do I remember this: The character of Majhli is my favorite. The best social drama depicting the life and times of middle-class of the eighties.
Buniyaad is the first Indian soap opera
13| Karamchand (1985 - 1989)
- Lead: Pankaj Kapur, Sushmita Mukherjee
- Episodes: 72
- Directed by: Pankaj Parashar.
- Description: The much-loved series couldn't entertain the audience much when it came up with a sequence in 2007 which was aired on Sony. Of course, original is indeed original.
- Why do I remember this: The ever famous munching of the carrot, his funny assistant, and the dialogue "Shut up Kitty".
14| Mr. Yogi (1988)
- Lead: Mohan Gokhale, Pallavi Joshi, Om Puri
- Episodes: 12
- Directed by: Ketan Mehta
- Description: The show which had an NRI American trying to search a well-cultured bride in India. He goes on to see 12 girls each belonging to a different Rashi. Funny yet thought-provoking. This was narrated by Om Puri in his unique style.
- Why do I remember this: I only recently watched this on YouTube and it was funny. This tries to shed light on the customs and practices that take place in Indian marriages. I can understand the impact it would have created at the time of its release.
15| Mahabharat (1988 - 1990)
- Lead: Gajendra Chouhan, Nitish Bharadwaj, Mukesh Khanna
- Episodes: 94
- Directed by: Ravi Chopra
- Description: The story of the biggest war according to Hindi scriptures was shown in much detail. Many actors went on to make a successful career after this.
- Why do I remember this: The song at the start is awesome by the vocals of Mahendra Kapoor. The grandeur, though, might not excite when compared to today's special effects. Nevertheless, this made audiences hooked onto their seats every Sunday morning. This taught so much to the audience about Indian mythology.
16| Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne (1989 - 1990)
- Lead: Raghubir Yadav
- Episodes: 52
- Directed by: Prakash Jha
- Description: Raghubir Yadav, a common man who gets to hear bad from every other person. But Mungerilal has a viable way to get around this - by daydreaming.
- Why do I remember this: This has given many people a new phrase to scold daydreamers. Often times, as Mungerilal Uth, Sapne Se bahar aa (Mungerilal, wake up from your dreams)
17| Mowgli - The Jungle Book (1989 - 1990)
- Lead: Of course Mowgli!
- Episodes: 52
- Directed by: Fumio Kurokawa
- Description: The fascinating story of Mowgli and Sharekhan. The best part of this was the continuing script, unlike other animated series.
- Why do I remember this: As I was writing this my mom reminds me "You used to be mad about Mowgli". And tell me who hasn't recited the famous lines: "Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai Pata Chala Hai.....Chaddi Pahenge Phool Khila Hai Phool Khila Hai". The title song is composed by Vishal Bharadwaj, lyrics by Gulzar and the singer is Amol Sahdev (Photo Link)
18| Malgudi Days (1986)
- Lead: Shankar Nag, Manjunath, and many others.
- Episodes: 54
- Directed by: Shankar Nag
- Description: This is based on the book by R.K. Narayan which he wrote in a long span of 20 years.
- Why do I remember this: Do you remember Swami and Friends? My views on Malgudi days is that it is the greatest T.V series ever in India. Goosebumps on watching this.
A truly great story and is a must for every human being.— TheGuardian.com on Malgudi Days
Awesome Is the Word
Malgudi Days - Episode 1 - Swamy And Friends
19| Nukkad (1986 - 1987)
- Lead: Dilip Dhawan, Avtar Gill, Sameer Khakar
- Episodes: 100
- Directed by: Kundan Shah
- Description: This tried showing the story of a neighborhood which was more or less similar to every metro city.
- Why do I remember this: The mere mention of the name Nukkad brings forward the image of Guru (Dilip Dhawan), Kadar Bhai (Avtaar Gill), and Khopdi (Sameer Khakkar).
20| Potli Baba Ki Kahani (1991)
- Lead: Potli Baba
- Episodes: 20
- Directed by: Sanjit Ghosh
- Description: Fairy tales which had a relevant social message. Gulzar penned this series and is now also available as a book which will be fun to read for kids.
- Why do I remember this: The title song "Aya Re Baba, Aya Aya"
This Was So Frustrating
21| Padosan (1995)
- Lead: Jatin Kanakia and his home furniture.
- Episodes: 99
- Directed by: Kapil Kapoor
- Description: The story of a large and extended family living close to each other. Then one fine day, a heroine comes as a neighbor, and the comedy ensues.
- Why do I remember this: A serial which is etched in my mind because of Jatin Kanakia's unusual conversation with furniture around his home. Whenever I see Jatin Kanakia it brings a smile on my face.
22| Ramayan (1987 - 1988)
- Lead: Arun Govil
- Episodes: 78
- Directed by: Ramanand Sagar
- Description: Bow your head down to take blessings of Lord Ram. The best way to watch this is to get the complete DVD set as videos are not uploaded on YouTube or any other site.
- Why do I remember this: Without this, how would many people like me ever know the story of Lord Ram, I wonder.
Ramayan is the world's most viewed mythological serial: Limca Book of Records
23| Raja Aur Rancho (1997 - 1998)
- Lead: Ved Thapar and Rancho
- Episodes: 103
- Directed by: Murli Nalappa
- Description: Another crime detection series where a monkey played the role of an assistant.
- Why do I remember this: This was also fun to watch. Rancho amazed all of us, isn't it? The good news is that all the episodes have been uploaded by Ultra Hindi on Youtube.
24| Space City Sigma (1989)
- Lead: Krishan Kant, Savita Bhatia, Mita Vashisht
- Episodes: Unknown
- Directed by: Ashok Talwar
- Description: India's first ever sci-fi series.
- Why do I remember this: Yes, it was the first of its kind. As well, Savita looks so cute. Where is she now, no one knows.
25| Shri Krishna (1996)
- Lead: Swapnil Joshi
- Episodes: 221
- Directed by: Ramanand Sagar
- Description: Hugely popular mythological serial on Lord Krishna.
- Why do I remember this: Another series which was impressive and informative.
26| Shrimaan Shrimati (1994)
- Lead: Jatin Kanakia, Reema Lagoo, Archana Puran Singh, Rakesh Bedi
- Episodes: 143
- Directed by: Rajan Waghmare
- Description: A small-time heroine comes to stay as a neighbor much like the serial Padosan. Both Shrimaan Shrimati and Padosan are products of Balaji Telefilms.
- Why do I remember this: My favorite comedy show of all time. I have watched all the episodes and I recommend you should as well in your dinner time. Jatin Kanakia was a gem.....R.I.P.
Who is your favorite character?
27| Shaktimaan (1997 - 2005)
- Lead: Mukesh Khanna
- Episodes: 520
- Directed by: Dinkar Jani
- Description: The superhero that so man children liked. Shaktimaan started when other T.V channels had forayed in the Indian Market.
- Why I remember this: You might not like but I didn't have much fun watching it. May be because I had grown-up by the time this happened, and it seemed childish to me.
28| Surabhi (1990 - 2001)
- Lead: Siddharth Kak, Renuka Shahane
- Episodes: 415
- Directed by: Abhilash Bhattacharya
- Description: This became a popular cultural show with a positive impact on society. Has the prized distinction of being the longest-running cultural show as well featured its name in Limca Book of Records for getting more than 10 lakh letters in a single week.
- Why I remember this: This was in the news when they entered Limca Book of Records.
29| Shanti - Ek Aurat Ki Kahani (1994)
- Lead: Mandira Bedi
- Episodes: Unknown
- Directed by: Adi Pocha
- Description: Mandira Bedi made her debut in the industry with this dark reality-based serial. She plays the character of Shanti the lead actor who aspires to be a journalist. And boy see the stark differences of her looks now. She definitely looks much bolder and I must say she carries it incredibly well.
- Why I remember this: All because of Mandira Bedi. She went on to do many more serials and movies after Shanti. The transformation she had after the 2003 Cricket World Cup is impressive.
30| Tu Tu Main Main (1996)
- Lead: Reema Lagoo, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Mahesh Thakur
- Episodes: 169
- Directed by: Sachin Pilgaonkar
- Description: Pun on Saas-Bahu relationship.
- Why I remember this: The unique way of telling "Action" before the start of the episode is one thing I recall which was quite distinctive. The camaraderie and sweet little arguments between the lead actors were awesome. Reema Lagoo and Supriya Pilgaonkar have some great fun irritating each other. Where is all the love lost between the Saas-Bahu? (I'm talking about the recent shows)
31| Tenali Rama (1990)
- Lead: Vijay Kashyap, Anant Desai, Sandhya Sudhakar
- Episodes: 12
- Directed by: T.S. Nagabharana
- Description: The on-screen adaptation of Tenali Raman stories.
- Why I remember this: I had read the book as well so watching this was good.
32| Udaan (1989 - 1991)
- Lead: Kavita Chaudhary, Shekhar Kapur, Vikram Gokhale
- Episodes: 30
- Directed by: Kavita Chaudhary
- Description: The story of a woman who beats all odds and hardships to become an IPS officer. So insightful, apt, and still relevant today.
- Why do I remember this: The strong-willed character portrayed by Kavita Chaudhary.
33| Vikram Betal (1985)
- Lead: Arun Gohil, Sajjan
- Episodes: 26
- Directed by: Prem Sagar
- Description: Brought to life stories that were written nearly 2500 years ago. The story of King Vikramaditya and Vetal. Each story was narrated by Beetal to the king which ended with a question that the king answered correctly.
- Why do I remember this: There are internet memes still being created on this one.
34| Wagle Ki Duniya (1988 - 1990)
- Lead: Anjan Srivastav
- Episodes: 104
- Directed by: Kundan Shah
- Description: Anjan Srivastav's most remembered series of all time. An adaptation of R.K Laxman's famous cartoon series Common Man.
- Why do I remember this: A script showing struggles of a common man.
35| Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984)
- Lead: Shafi Inamdar, Swaroop Sampath, Rakesh Bedi, Satish Shah
- Episodes: 67
- Directed by: Kundan Shah
- Description: This is a complete family entertainer.
- Why do I remember this: Comedy is my preferred genre, so how can I miss mentioning this mild slap-stick kind?
Did You Know?
Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi is the first Indian comedy serial.
36| Zabaan Sambhalke (1993 - 1994)
- Lead: Pankaj Kapur
- Episodes: 106
- Directed by: Rajiv Mehra
- Description: The story of Mohan Bharti who is booted from his job as an engineer. To make ends meet he teaches how to speak Hindi at a local institute. However, he gets frustrated by his students who don't even follow simple lessons.
- Why I remember this: Even the second season was great as it largely had the same cast and crew.
37| Zu Mountain Saga - Aired on Home TV (1997 - 1998)
- Lead: Ekin Cheng, Adia Chan
- Episodes: 40
- Directed by: Unknown
- Description: Originally made in the Chinese was dubbed in Hindi for the Indian audience. This was a mix of sci-fi, magic, and a love story.
- Why I remember this: The was one of my most loved shows while growing up. I'm sure you too are a fan of Rocky, Yinglam and do remember Aadamkhor, Kala Jadudar, Shaitaini Haath. Unfortunately, the CD/DVD is not released.
Should Old Doordarshan Shows be Re-Telecasted?
More Serials That You Will Like
Air Hostess - Kitu Gidwani
Phir Wahi Talash - Poonam Sarin
Captain Vyom - Milind Soman, Tom Alter
Chunauti - Suchitra Krishnamurthy
Indradhanush - Urmila Matondkar, Karan Johar
Jai Hanuman - Raj Premi
Kahan Gaye Woh Log - Dheeraj Kumar
Katha Sagar - Sharmila Tagore, Shammi Kapoor, Om Puri, Utpal Dutt
Luv Kush - Arun Govil, Swapnil Joshi
Mirza Ghalib - Naseerudin Shah
Farmaan - Kawaljit Singh
Neem Ka Ped - Pankaj Kapoor
Rajani - Priya Tendulkar
Subah - Salim Ghouse
Swabhimaan - Kitu Gidwani
Talaash - Alok Nath, Moushumi Chatterjee
Tamas - Om Puri, Amrish Puri
Tehkikaat - Vijay Anand
The Stone Boy
The Sword of Tipu Sultan - Sanjay Khan
Phatichar - Pankaj Kapur
Alice in wonderland
Kacchi Dhoop - Bhagyashree
Chip n Dale : Rescue Rangers
He-man and the Masters of Universe
Daane Anar Ke - Neena Gupta
Idhar Udhar - Ravi Baswani, Rachana Pathak, Supriya Pathak
Bible Ki Kahaniya
Aur Bhi Gham Hain Zamane Mein
The Great Maratha - Irrfan Khan
Kashish - Sudesh Berry, Malvika Tiwari
Om Namah Shivay
Sea hawks - Anup Soni
Katha Sagar - Sharmila Tagore, Shammi Kapoor
Kile Ka Rahasya
Ajnabi - Danny Denzongpa, Annu Kapoor
Junoon - Mangal Dhillon, Archana Puran Singh, Kitu Gidwani
Earth Matters - Host Mike Pandey (Educational Program)
Doosra Keval - Shah Rukh Khan
Yeh Duniya Ghazab Ki - Rakesh Bedi
Gul Gulshan Gulfaam - Parikshit Sahni, Kunal Khemu
Kakaji Kahin - Om Puri
Banegi Apni Baat - Madhavan
Shrikant - Farooq Sheikh
Yug - Javed Khan, Sudesh Berry
Param Vir Chakra - Puneet Iswar, Kanwaljit Singh
Suraag - The Clue
Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan - First Indian Talkshow
Chunauti - Suchitra Krishnamoorti, Ali Asgar
Intezaar - Rajendra Gupta
Reporter - Shekhar Suman
Phoolwanti - Archana Joglekar
Thank You Doordarshan
Questions & Answers
© 2014 Kannan Reddy