Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Space City Sigma, 1989

A strange new deadly creature has sneaked aboard the ship. The latest maneuver of  Zakhakoo to take down Commander Tara and his city, the last hurdle to his plans of adding earth to his galactic kingdom and the universe. This time he sent a small Blob, strangely, much resembling a stinky wet Upla, a throbbing pack of  cow-dung . The Blob is given to jumps onto its unsuspecting victims and sucks the life force out of them. Soon, this 'death-on-contact-with-skin' creature starts making victims out of helpless citizens of the Space City who have no clue about the nature of these new deaths. As the word slowly spreads,there is mayhem, in this mayhem the Blob zeros in on what could be its most prized victim - Shakti. As a doors open (automatically, woosh-pause-woosh), Shakti walks in only to be attacked slyly by the Blob. In the manner of its previous killings, this time too, Blob goes for the face, sticking to the face of Shakti who for a moment seems to be in the grips of death itself. There is a struggle, but by now it has already dawned of the viewers - Blob stands no chance, this was a brilliant stroke of luck (or genius of its makers). Stupid Blob had gone for the metal half of Shakti's face. Shakti will survive and kill the Blob. Space City Sigma was safe again, Zakhakoo had again been defeated.


With the end of each episode, its young viewers would often run out of their homes singing a new ditty of unknown origins, 'Sigma Par Jayengay aur Zakhakoo Ki Khopdi kay Nimboo Nichodangay' (We will go to Sigma and maybe squeeze those lemons of Zakhakoo's skull)


First telecast on May 21, 1989, Space City Sigma marked Indian television's first foray into Science-Fiction. The inspiration was obviously Star Trek but instead of making a straight copy, it makers came up with 'Sci-Fi Soap-Opera'. Unlike Star Trek, Sigma had a villain and the story, each episode was woven around 'Good Vs Bad'. Interestingly its makers admitted to not targeting people who had already seen Star Trek, instead they were hoping to capture the imagination of small town audience.

The Plot:
Sigma, a space city (running on fusion energy) docked at a Galactic frontier, is the last stand of humans against an even more technologically superior alien race ruled by one ZhakhaKoo.

The crew of Sigma:
Commander Tara with Heeri

Commander Tara (Krishan Kant, from drama background, ran a theater group in Delhi called 'Sakshi'): the leader of Sigma. The Captain Kirk, but lot less melodramatic and more 'man-with-a-responsibility' kind.

Heeri and Shakti

Shakti (Sanjeev Puri, already worked in Ashok Talwar's 'Police File Se'): the Indain Mr. Spock, only a Cyborg and not an alien.
Heeri (must say looks totally space punk)

Heeri (Savita Bhatia, a familiar face on Doordarshan back then, had worked in serials like 'Tasveer Ka Dusra Rukh', 'Zindagi Zindagi' and India's first color serial- 'Dadi Maa Jagi' ): the beautiful communication officer.





Tiba (1. Mita Vashisht, went on to be quite famous, still into drama): the scientist who might be having a thing for Commander Tara.

Varey (2. Kishore Dang): the engineer who obviously has a thing for Heeri. His creation, the robot 'Gogo' is programmed to serve Heeri as its top priority mission.

Dr. Luka (3. Anand Sharma): the Doctor who often questions Commander Tara's leadership but is devoted to Sigma.



ZhakhaKoo
ZhakhaKoo (Shailendra Srivastava, still active in Bhojpuri Cinema): the humanoid-mad-scientist-alien having an ambition of dominating the universe.
Make-up session for ZhakhaKoo
Directed and Produced by Ashok Talwar and Bizeth Banerjee
It seems I still recall the 'Blob' episode of Sigma. I was seven and gowning up in Srinagar.

I recently managed to get my hands on a 1988 issue of 'The Weekly Sun' dedicated to Sigma (which hadn't yet hit the small screen, so this was more like a 'getting the word out' thing). The images (originally clicked by Naresh Suri  )  are from that issue. Enjoy! (No I don't think there is hope for a video.)
-0-

41 comments:

  1. When 'Space City Sigma' was running on TV, I once declared that it was my favouritest thing ever.

    Only to be told by the neighbourhood know-it-all that the series was based on 'Star Wars'. He maintains that he said 'Star Trek', but I am sure I remember correctly.

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  2. I remember there was a feature on Sunday Times too on Sigma.. One of the things i remember is that the production team put up a good bit of effort to bring in sci fi effects.

    Eg. The turning chair panels of the control room would malfunction after a couple of twists and needed repetitive fixes.

    "Yeh hai talaash nai Duniya ki, Nai gyaan ki, Nai Shanti ki"

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  3. @bheema
    funny story. The fact that Sigma was about Good vs Evil so in that way it was kind of similar to Star Wars.
    @Nagesh
    you are right, the team did put up lot of efforts into special effects, In fact they tried to incorporate at least one new effect in each episode. And thanks for the intro. text!

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  4. I was too young to remember Space City Sigma, but the name still rings. I can almost see the architecture floating in space. But I clearly remember a later such serial called, Captain Vyom, starring Milind Soman and Krittika Rane (possibly!). Looks like the little memory I have has got jumbled up between these two. Thanks for blogging this one though.

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  5. Thank you SOOOO much Vinayak..I was trying to remember the name of the series for the last couple of weeks. Couldnt search for it either..as it was just in my mind !! You're a star :)

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  6. WOW MERE BACHPAN KI YAADE TAZA HO GAYI MAI US VAKT SIRF 9 SAAL KA THA

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    Replies
    1. same here even i was 9, it use to come after mahabharat, there was one more serial neev base on life of school children in hostel

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  7. This is a great coincidence. Couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone about another sci-fi/fantasy serial - Indradanush (apparently Karan Johar's debut) and this came up. Great post Vinayak.

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  8. Swagatokti
    Captain Vyom started with quite a promising premise. I am sure a decade from now the 90s generation will be reminiscing about it.

    @Sharon
    you are welcome!

    @Rohit
    Indradanush not only taught us basics of AI, time travel but also how to setup a Dynamo using a bicycle :)

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  9. @Vinayak - And Indradhanush also taught us how to create a circuit board using a piece of plastic and a brush, which would ultimately end up inside a homebrewed computer!

    I had an old Target (that old children's magazine) issue with a feature devoted to Space City Sigma - probably from '89.

    Needless to say, these two creations were what led me into science fiction.

    Do you know if it's possible that the Indradhanush episodes would be available somewhere? Maybe Doordarshan archives?

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  10. Didn't know Target (an old issue from 1988) covered them too. In a way I too was led to science fiction by them. This particular article laments lacks of Science Fiction from India, in Cinema and literature. The things that came to my mind were film 'Wahan Ke Log' (1967) (alien invasion of India! video) and Satyajit Ray's fantasy/Sci-Fi sotry collection 'The unicorn expedition and other stories'.

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  11. Oh yes - I have that movie!
    And Professor Shonku is an old favourite.

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  12. The apparatus on Zakakoos Chest looked more like an Intercom Device....Yes!! They could time travel too..the phenomenon was termed as .."Teleporting" in the Serial. Zakakoo would teleport to year 1988 and landup at India Gate and shower lasers at Innocent People.
    In one episode Shakti teleported to 1988 with sufficient quantity of 50 Carat Gold sticks called "Ebhu Dhatu" by sigma residents. Gold at Space City , a metal as useless as Aluminium for Sigma but gets Shakti arrested by 1988 Delhi Police. Shakti dosent use any of his 2050 Superpowers against 1988 Delhi Police.

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  13. One thing that amuses me to this day is a practice called "Brainwashing" followed by both Sigma and Zakakoo.

    Zakakoo would capture Sigma inmates and brainwash them into evil minds and vice versa by Sigma.

    There were special Brainwashing Chambers... a room with lots of overhead pipes and ducts and a control panel.

    The brainwashing victem would be tied and two pipes (looked like EEG probes) would be be inserted into foreheads. And a red coloured liquid would do the brain washing....You could see the liquid do the gushing in overhead pipes & ducts..

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    Replies
    1. Bro is there any chance of any video? I have been searching for the videos for more than 20 years.i remember 1 episode when a fake commander tara was created by zakhaku.

      Delete
  14. Yes ! I remember a Target issue carrying a feature on Sigma...with Interviews of Krishna Kant Singh.. (Jokingly referred as Krishna Can't Sing in Magazine)...

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  15. @Dipen

    "Ebhu Dhatu" and 'Brainwash machines'... you really remember it in all the details brother :) I recall putting shoe boxes under my shirt to pass it off at Zakakoo's stereo-on-chest device.

    Also, this article did in fact mention Sigma citizens travelling to India gate and getting into all sort of trouble.

    Krishna Can't Singh...Target always had a sense of humor.

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  16. I remember a virus came to Sigam. Which was like a half of tennis ball. It was breathing. It jumps and sticks on the face of people and people get die! Nice concept.

    Thank you for sharing all!

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  17. Please please if any government i.e. doordarshan employee sees this post; please remember that you have now failed to be in race of the channels. People watching doordarshan as they have no way. Ask the people if they have choice, they won't opt for DD. Quality has been a matter of rare thought in your media. It simply tries to be alive. The things are done just to show that you are doing your job. Not a single programme worth a watch. Just open the old gold before it gets stolen.
    Anyway, we have now learn to get inferior service. Govt. work=Zero quality. If you ask for some money, the people will openly accept in a vague hope that you will improve.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ah... and the scrolling text (star wars, anyone)...

    Gala varsh 305... Fusion yug aarambh!

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  19. This is pure nostalgia...was a hugge fan when i was a kid :)) thanks a ton for taking me back to those days :)

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  20. Incidentally the space blob sticking to your face episode is the only one I remember now of this show. I haven't come across a video of this show either. Would be fun to watch it again on Youtube or somewhere.

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  21. It's a serial, I'm looking forward to watch again. I would be grateful to anyone who finds me a CD of this at least.

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  22. No surprise that I too remember the blob episode. There was something about that episode.

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  23. hi....i have been trying since long time to get dvd or internet download link.....plz plz plz provide it if anybody has it.....and i too remember blob episode....

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  24. join my facebook community"bring sapce city sigma back" to get it back on tv.....

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just remembered one line "sigma fisal raha hai" from that robot....i googled for it...and after few searches, landed on this page...just felt good to see so many people miss the serial

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  26. I remember 1 episode when a large piece of rock kind of a thing was sent by zakhaku to sigma.some lightning was coming out of it,it was targeting citizens of sigma and was making them like robots.also recall 1 episode when tara and zakhaku joined hands to oust 1 alien named rozado from sigma.can anyone recall?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually that rock was not by ZK, it was sm powerfully alien life form which came in and parked along with Sigma. It used to communicate to sigma ppl by using someone from sigma (I remember some female) in robotic way. 'HUME TUMHARA PURA SAMPLE CHAHIYE, AADHA NAHI"
      And incidentally, the 'alien' for whom ZK came to sigma was from future (earth probably) who use to have forcefield around him emanating from his belt. Since ZK was someone who could produce energy from his body, he could remove his belt some or something similar was the funda why he joined hand with Sigma.
      PS: Admin, I'd never have written a comment where there is no option for entering just name/website or Anonymous is possible. Its just that I've typed so much and don't want to waste it now.

      Delete
    2. thanks abhishek kohli for your insight,I was only 7 then so have fuzzy memories.Do you remember the episode when tara,sakti and dr.luka went out of sigma to a rocky region and started climbing when they encountered some dwaef like creatures whose face were covered.I think shakti fired lazer at one dwarf.Can I get the video anywhere on earth?

      Delete
  27. Pure nostalgia!! :D great job dude!!
    I was six when this serial was aired on DD. On next day in school after class me and my pals sit around and discuss about the episode aired on Sunday. Funny enough, I still remember in each episode the the alarm went off for space city sigma. "Chetavni!! Chetavni!!" LOL

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  28. i could always remember mrf tyre ad but not the series name it is good to finally know the name of the tv series but where two more sci fi series after this but do you have ay videos

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  29. I remember an episode in which zakhaku sent tezaab ka badal towards sigma. It completely melted a planet in way of sigma and then it started moving towards sigma. it appeared as if sigma was doomed. Sigma crew tried firing lasers on tezaab ka baadal but it didnt work. Then in the end the sigma crew fired laser on another planet and the laser rays bounced off that planet and hit tezaab ka badal. This changed the direction of tezaab ka baadal and sigma was safe agajn.

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  30. I can only say O MY GOD. Sigma, the serial timing was i think 11 am on sunday. At that time we had no tv in our home. We used to watch it in the home of our landlord, we i.e. I and my elder brother. Later we got bw Dyanora wooden door tv in our home. Sunday was a real treat for us. He man, ghayabaya, stone boy, sigma, hum panchi ek daal ke, chamatkar(ek do teen char charo mil k sath chale to ho jaye chamatkar), spiderman, freinds please remind me more complete nostalgia. Thanks for such a blog.

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  31. remember 1 episode when a clone of commander tara was sent to sigma by zakhaku,he fired lazer on the legs of real commander tara(krishnakant).can any1 recall?

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  32. Wow such great memories.. frm quite few days Sigma was hovering in my mind..wen i wasnt able to slp today..I googled zakhaku and sigma n landed up on this nice blog.. lol I also remember only that blob episode.. esp that scene in which a blob attacks Shakti's face n he then poke it with an injection n throw it.. other blobs stick on that blob and then they were thrown to deep space by opening door suddenly.. I remember that the human part of shakti dies in that attack.. thanks for creating this blog.. quite a nostalgic feeling.. n ya others programs of that era were simply awwsome. . Like chitrahaar.. he-man..Mahabharat.. we used to wait whole week to watch these programs :-)

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  33. is there any chance of DVD of this series?

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  34. I recall the blob episode. But was it sent by Zakhakoo? or they just picked it up from somewhere.
    Also there was one episode in which Zakhakoo helped Zigma.
    I remember the dwarf episode, and the Time travel to 1988. Some lady proposed to Tara or Shakti in that episode.

    The stun rays were very unique too. I remember, them being shaped as large red rhombus!!!

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    Replies
    1. can u enlighten me on that dwarf episode?

      Delete
  35. Can someone help me with this SERIAL NAME PLEASE !

    A STORY BASED ON A STEEL BALL , which eats all lot of things , and a kid taking care of that , finally it goes back to its alien ship where there are 1000s of steel ball .

    ReplyDelete

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