40 years of good ol’ Doordarshan Kendra


There was a time in Madras when families sat together to watch black and white television.

They watched the news and programmes meant for children, youngsters and even those for farmers, with great gusto. Madras also learnt Tamil with Ma. Nannan on the tele.

Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Madras, which will step into its 40th year in a few days, offered its viewers quality infotainment.

Seventy-five-year-old Nagalakshmi Balasubramian says her family bought a TV set for Rs. 3,500 in 1980. Her husband would lock up the set so children wouldn’t meddle with its controls.

“The TV was a novelty for us. Many women followed what news reader Shobana Ravi would wear,” she says.

S. Sampath Kumar, former producer with DDK Madras, who is now a professor of broadcast journalism at Asian College of Journalism, recalls how all the equipment failed regularly those days.

“They were very rudimentary. We somehow managed, and the programmes went on air without any hitch,” he says.

Mr. Kumar was also the first person to read the news on DDK Madras.

Apart from the Sunday movies and ‘Oliyum Oliyum’ on Fridays, Western and light music programmes, the sports quiz by Sumanth C. Raman, and ‘What’s the Good Word’ by Shanti Raghavan were a craze among youngsters.

“People saturated with films and serials turn to DDK for news-based programmes and other shows which are informative and entertaining,” says Dr. Raman.

“Dramas were a hit when the station started here in 1975. Actors, including J. Lalitha, Gopi and Nithya, used to be very famous. The storylines were very down to earth and we could connect with the actors. We used to get Vijayavauhini channel from Sri Lanka with the same aluminium antenna,” says G. Balasubramaniam of West Mambalam.

The serials on DDK Madras had fan following too. S. Shivpprasadh, Malayalam film producer and nephew of drama legend R.S. Manohar, recalls co-producing a mythological serial, ‘Narakasuran’, with Mr. Manohar in the lead.

“The serial was aired from August to November, in 1991, and had Carnatic vocalist T.N. Seshagopalan as Mahavishnu, violinist Ganesh as Lord Krishna and actor K.R. Vijaya as Bhoomadevi. Heron Ramasamy, another legend, also acted in the serial,” he says.


Source: The Hindu