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Signature Tune of Doordarshan and the Montage

Doordarshan montage, collageIn 1973, the signature tune of Doordarshan was first brought to life by Ustad Ali Ahmad Hussain Khan during his shehnai recital in an hour and a half long inauguration ceremony of Doordarshan Television Channel held at Vigyan Bhava in new Delhi. Ustad Ali Ahmad Hussain Khan was the one who first breathed life into that sad sounding tune.

As more and more cities started receiving the signals of Doordarshan, the number of its viewers kept increasing. It became a truly powerful medium. But, a medium of what - this was yet to be decided. Indira Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister at the time, understood the power of this new medium. A common sentiment of the public during the turbulent 70s was: Nehru was a visionary, Shastri a revisionary, and Indira Gandhi a televisionary. Indira Gandhi knew how to wield and harvest the power of television. Indira Gandhi wanted the signature tune of Doordarshan to be based on the national song of India - Iqbal's saarey jahan se acha.
The task of composing the tune was entrusted to sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. But, he realized that the actual tune of saarey jahan se acha was of a bit longer duration. Working with Ustad Ali Ahmad Hussain Khan, Ravi Shankar finally came up with a variation of the original tune and created what can truly be termed the 'National tune of India'. A slow mournful sounding tune that became a cherished memory for generations of Indians. A memory twisted in swirls...the swirl.


Doordarshan Montage (originally designed at NID) 

You may also like to read my earlier post about signature tune of AIR
the freedom run torch song of Doordarshan


  1. heyy..i sooo want that freedom run video (aka the Torch of freedom video)..please ddo find it for me ..or let me know what i can do to get it..

  2. Anony,
    This is your luck day. I finally found the video.
    Look for it at my updated post here:
    Torch of Freedom

  3. Great job man
    Keep It Up..
    I had been looking for it for many days..
    It reminds me of my childhood...
    Thanks bro...

  4. Prabhdeep,
    thanks for the nice comments!

  5. Internet is a funny place. I saw the introductory text of this post about the story of signature tune of Doordarshan copy-pasted on a couple of blogs. I am flattered.

  6. Thank you very mych, It brings memmories of my childhod and our old TV set.

  7. great blog brother! arrived looking for target magazine and couldn't help commenting on the doordarshan intro post..i'm also a great admirer of the simplicity, honesty and earthy creativity of our "good old" but in this case was heartbroken to watch Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 movie "vertigo"..the opening credits have the same hypnotic beats and swirls forming into the doordarshan emblem - the circle with 2 rounded leaves. the shehnai part seems to be our only fig leaf of originality.
    I could never understand why they had to make this blatant lift. Any ideas?

  8. I claim to be a Hitchcock fan mostly because I got to see his TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents on a Pakistani station while growing up. But this I didn't see coming. I guess someone at NID must have got "inspired". This is actually sad. But yeah India hai, what to expect. Or maybe that swirl is just the manifestation of a mathematical function, a generic Logarithmic spiral, that both Saul Bass and the guys at NID found interesting.

    Okay, they just lifted the idea. Damn, one more pure goodness desecrated!

  9. wow bro...good job...i had download AIR N DD1 -S signture tune..

  10. "Who composed the dhoordarsan music?" This question was asked in NEENGALUM VELLALAAM ORU KOODI (in vijay tv) but the partisipant cant answer the question. The question was "Who composed the dhoordarsan music?"-- Ans: Pandit Ravi Shankar.......But he tried his level best.......hats offf.......This question is the 1 crore th question

  11. woowww i like that question...


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