Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi released and Gandhi became an International star. Later the movie would be shown on Doordarshan every Independence Day from many many years to come. Doordarshan went national in the early 80s. Salma Sultan was reading News. Sitting in front of T.V sets, people used to reply back to her Namaskars. Ustad Bismillah Khan was on the shehnai every Independence day. Along with national broadcast came: the Antennas on the T.V set and on the rooftops. Color T.V came to India in 1982 with the Asian Games held in Delhi. Then we had serials like Hum Log of 1984 and some years later we got the megadrama: Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan ran from 1987 to 1988. Soon came Mahabharat that ran from 1988 to 89 - the story of 23 day war was told the entire year and people developed an interest in history. A serial named Kille ka Rahasya made me a claustrophobic that I am. However, that is another story. Surf and Lalitaji were names that glued themselves to consumer's brain. Yet consumer's brain had space for more names, names like Amul, Nirma, Dabur, Favicol and Dalda. Polymer science gave us Lakhani chappal or maybe it gave us Relaxo chapal - only Salman Khan or Dara Singh would known. Bata was a biggest footwear name, Action, Force, Liberty came later. People drank Campa Cola or maybe GoldSpot using straws, straws that later littered the floor of Halls hosting marriage receptions. Vicks ki goli lo…People were popping in Vicks lozenges after smoking a Cavanders. If that didn’t get rid of the smoky smell, they considered brushing the teeth using Ajanta tooth ‘burush’ and white Colgate toothpaste, or may be just chew on some toothpowder sold in red headed white tin containers. Mouthwash! sellers and buyers had no need for it yet. Raju was content with Dabur Lal Dant Manjan that guaranteed pearly white motiyo jaisay daant.
Deodorant! Who needed them when we had Vaseline hair oil, the smell didn't offend anyone yet. Vaseline the perfumed hair oil, may be they were competing against Bengali Cantharidine.
Deodorant! Who needed them when we had Nycil ‘powder’. However, Nycil had no perfume to talk of, it was unperfumed, but it worked magic on scratchy Indian backs. For shoulder to shoulder good smell we had Shower to Shower.
Khaitan gave common man something that only the White man of pre-Independence days could easily afford: Cool air without manual labor - Air Power. Hand Crafted Hand-held fans retired to some corner of the house, but were retrieved everytime electricity went dead, and that happened just as often as it happens now. Kerosene lamp was still kept in some corner of the house, a back up. When electricity was on, most houses were lit yellow by incandescent Surya light bulbs. Bulbs controlled by big black Knobs. However Tubelight with its pure white light had arrived illuminating the freshly Nerolac painted walls.
Kerosene stove slowly made way for the LPG stove. Food cooked in a Hawkins pressure cooker ‘looked’ good. MDH masala was used in cooking. Kayam churan, Hajmola or Sawad ki goli was to be poped in after eating at the in-laws. For some of certain age, Isabgol was the laxative husk to be mixed in milk and to be drunk just before going to bed at night. Beds in cold areas warmed by hot water bottles. Tin cans like the one of P mark oil, Lipton tea etc. were used to store sugar, salt, garam masala, pepper, tea, nuclear waste and other useful things. In homes, a Singer sewing machine was the ruler of women's gadget world. Girl’s wanted Lacto Calamine to get that rosy tone. Boroline was the antiseptic creamy answer to skin problem under the shirt. For under the pants problems of men, we had B-Tex lotion. Lifebuoy made life a lot less messy for pure-impure-unpure conscious, right-handed middle class Indians. Rosy pink Lux for aging beauty queens had competition from Lemony green Liril for girls who enjoyed frolicking under waterfalls. Waterfall…Mandakini showered under a waterfall wearing just a transparent white sari. Men still watch her bathe...keep googling her ram maili image up. Some smart people liked Smita Patil, but she too had to dance in the rain. Some people were kept busy by Bo Derek. While some were kept busy by Rambo…everyone waned to workout and get those muscles.
The other thing that kept men busy was the newest gadget. Hamara Bajaj was the national pride and ride- model was Chetak. Besides it we had LML Vespa. Casio calculator with LED display was Pure technology. Also, Wrist watch that could do mathematical calculation was the in gadget. It was again a marvel from the house of Casio. I you had a VCP in 80s- you were rich, if you had VCR you were Super Rich. Radios in leather bound covers became a dying breed but they were still around with old men who clung to them. Vinyl Cassettes were the revolution. Portable cassette players along with a stereo speaker set were pure indulgence for music fanatics who swore by Boney M. What did people hear ?
Gurdas Maan was a singing star with a dafli in hand. Runa Laila of Bangladesh found an audience in India and Lal meri was the song. Nazia Hasan of Pakistan was the new fresh sound. People were listening to comic lines of Moin Akhtar, the Pakistani comedian. Ghulam Ali, The Ghazal Maestro of Pakistan became a star in India. Everybody was listening to him chupke chupke raat din. Besides people bought music cassettes. Sports...India found Cricket in a new sense, but that a whole different story. In addition, we can name P.T. Usha. One more name I would like to name is that of Sergey Bubka. When Sergey Bubka pole-vaulted to a record in 1983, we in India celebrated. Remember, India was still friends with Russia. That again is another story.
Movie, another Indian passion. Sunday movies on Doordarshan were a big draw. One day the Doordarshan people decided to show 'art' movie for some weeks. It didn't last. People hated the idea.
' Uski Roti! What!...just telecast Rajesh Khanna ki Roti. We would rather watch black and white screaming electron bugs fight it out on the signal down blue screen. We would rather watch the multi- colored bars and listen to the single longest electronic beep. What the hell is Uski Roti! The slow churning of Doordarshan logo to the sound of some dying instrument, tuu-uuuu-tuu-uu-tu, during the first early morning telecast is more interesting than Uski Roti. Uski Roti! Kiski Roti! '
Ramsay Brothers were making Horror movies like Purana Mandir by the dozen and these films were, let’s use the bollywood term - Super Duper Hit. Besides Horror movies we had numerous celluloid versions of soap operas and these were called family dramas. Amitabh Bachchan
was the Shahenshah and so he remains to this day. Serious people and Cinema had a movie like Ardh Satya to catch. Times they seemed like changing. But that’s another story. Nothing changed.
Mr. India had everything…a super watch, a super invisible power, more than a dozen kids, a girlfriend that could sing-dance and look sexy in the rain wearing a synthetic sari, and he also had a super villain, a Mogambo to be blamed for all the troubles in life. It was the culmination of every male Indian fantasy.
Children, little children had other things on mind.
Owning a Hot Wheel Car or a Barbie was a dream for young boys and girls respectively, just as owing a Maruti 800 was for adults universally . Indrajal Comics brought with them syndicated comic books like The Phantom , Mandrake, Flash Gordon, and Buz Sawyer. Besides these it also had original graphic stories. Chandamama and Amar Citra Katha introduced Indian Mythologies and tales from other cultures to the growing children of the 80s. Target Magazine was the all time Best English Magazine for Children. It had the best feature stories and the best original content. Gardhab Das is what an idiot could aspire to be and yet be proud of himself. He could have stood an election and won on children vote, only if they could vote. Children had syndicated cartoon shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Also, we had one cartoon show about flying magical ponies. Children had trouble understanding what the hell Nirodh was…why all the rain and the singing and the pink umbrella. Grown up had trouble understanding it too, the population kept growing in spite of all the talk and wall painting by the Family welfare department…Jacha Bacha Bachoo ka Baap sab khush, all happy under the one big palm. That, again, is another story.