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Collage from India of the 80s

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 departmentJacha Bacha Bachoo ka Baap sab khush, all happy under the one big palm. That, again, is another story.



  1. It was wonderful reading through your collage. I'll cross post that on my blog.

    One thing that I noticed that, in the 80s people were shown drinking carbonated drinks through straws. Nowadays, it's only right from the bottle. It was Thums Up which brought our lips in direct contact with the rim.

    Target - my favouritest magazine ever. I still curse the people at Living Media for closing down such a wonderful magazine and coming up with something like Teen's Today.

    And Gardhab Das has so many contemporaries in our political class and the journalists who blabber around from the idiot box.

    With the silence that engulfed living rooms whenever Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua played in a TVC, I understood that I shouldn't be asking questions about this ad. The same also was true for sanitary napkins.

    And thanks for taking up my cause at Passion For Cinema.

  2. Thanks for the comment and looking forward to seeing it getting cross posted on your wonderful blog. Your blog actually gave me an idea. I have a 1970s edition of Readers Digest with lot of Ads in it, I stole is from an Uncle of mine. I am going to scan them up. But it’s going to take a lot of time as I have to first search and remember the place where I have kept it.

    About that PassionforCinema thing. I thought it was the only right thing to do. Glad to be help.

    Sanitary Napkins.
    Sanitary Napkins were a mystery to me for a long long time. Those ads were always
    about “un dino ke liye”….much later the Ads became graphic with “bahav”. I might be wrong but I think the Sanitary Napkin ads started only in the 90s(on PTV the ads started around the end of the 90s). May be you give some info.

  3. Its very nice reading thru this article of both soumyadip and vinayak. Really went to that good old days. I think people have to out with these ideas. But very few are seen. Anyway soumyadip's Curring the Chai" was very wonderful and very piece of work. nothing more than that

  4. I remember an ad in which a guy walks into a medical store and is not able to say what he wants and finally a guy walks in and in a thundering voice asks for Moods.
    I was mystified by the little packet that finally exchanges hands. I thought it was a new brand of shaving blade…couldn’t understand the guy’s reluctance to speak out the words.

    I also remember the other Brief Ad: uske pass kya hai jo meray pass nahi.

    And, the hot ad for Garden Sarees.

    Any body remember the ad for Topaz shaving blades…it used to sneak into the movie on video cassettes. Also, the ad for Ajanta tooth brush…papa ka mummy ka aur Ajanta mera.

    And the ad for Amritanjal Balm.

    And the ad that made eggs and chicks cool…meri jaan meri jaan murgi ke anday

    And the MRF ZIGMA ad with a gigantic flying tyre with white Disco lights acting as space ship…probably influenced by the serial Sigma.

    These were not just ads but a reflection of changing time.

  5. Wow..! Simply wow. Brilliant post. Those lovely 80s. Does anyone remember the Sigma?

  6. Sigma the one in which bad aliens had lemon protrusion on their head.
    The hero was a half-man named Shakti and the main bad alien was named Jazzakhoo.
    I remember a line from a popular ditty of that era:
    Sigma par Jayenge
    aur Jazzakhoo ki khopdi kay nimboo nichodangay

    If i remember right MRF Zigma ad (the one with a giant flying Tyre that resembles a UFO with lights coming out of it) used to play just before the serial.
    The wonderful serial was the Indian answer to Star Trek.
    Thanks for the appreciation and reminding about Sigma!

  7. Amazing write up, these are things which make anyone smile and remember the "good ol' days". and i am even more happy that one vinayak felt exactly like the other one. :)

  8. You have NO IDEA how important this post is for me. Working on a project on cinema and society in the 1980s... and came across this post! Gives me a better idea about that era :-)

  9. I do have some idea as this blog has been of help for a couple of other such interesting projects :)

  10. Hi, It's been nice to come across to your blog, really mind full stuff in today's era, I sometime really juggle as whether now a days would people be so calm and relaxed to live their moments. This I can easily be understood with difference in our Sunday afternoon routine, earlier were the days when you eat something home cooked followed by afternoon TV serials and evening movie stuff. The cozy and calm days indeed,

  11. I felt wonderful reading your post on doordarshan days and travelling back in Time !!! Incidentally I am putting up a website on DD1 Nostalgia at

    I would be happy if you could provide me a copy of your posts or permission to use them so that I can include it on my website. This might require slight modifications but I would be happy to include it on my site under your own name. Do let me know what you think about it.

  12. Hi Vinayak,

    I absolutely love this blog and keep reading it repeatedly every month :)
    Would it be possible for you to change the page colours as the white text on black background is not the best as far as readability is concerned? Maybe you could try with black text on white background?

    Best Regards,
    Ashwin Bhat

  13. Felt very happy and nostalgic after reading this in year 2020.

    I was a kid when all of that was happening


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