Before the ascend of premium satellite channels, it was Doordarshan that kept us entertained.
DD National became a great platform for creators, writers, and artists to portray their talent in the form of television series and for the most part, they did an excellent job.
The kids and the younger generation of today may have missed out on the 80s and 90s classic Doordarshan shows but they can always relive those moments using the advantage of the current digital era.
Well, DD National aired several great shows during the late 80s and throughout the 90s but only a handful are available on the digital platform. That is a pity, but something is always better than nothing. Here is the list of a few of the best Doordarshan shows from the 80s and 90s that you can experience online.
Best Doordarshan Shows of 80s and 90s on Online Streaming Platforms
If you are not a fan of the current trend of Saas-bahu dramas, then I would suggest the following list of must-watch Doordarshan shows from the 80s and 90s era.
For those who are not aware may get surprised to know that Shah Rukh Khan made his debut with the television serial Fauji aired on DD National in 1988.
Fauji, as the name suggests, is a television serial focusing on recruits as they are trained to become commandos in the Indian army. Directed by R.K. Kapoor, the show draws our attention towards the life of recruits while training and his transformation as a commando.
The series did not last long though and was only 13 episodes long. The entire series is available on Amazon Prime.
Zabaan Sambhal Ke (Prime)
Zabaan Sambhal Ke is a Hindi sitcom based on the British sitcom Mind Your Language. Directed by Rajiv Mehra, the show had a successful run in its first season with 54 episodes on DD Metro.
Later, Season 2 was premiered on Home TV in 1997-98 with 52 episodes. The series featured a talented cast including Pankaj Kapur as the Hindi tutor, Shubha Khote as the Principal, whereas Viju Khote, Tom Alter, Tanaaz Irani, Anant Mahadevan, and Vivek Vaswani and others played his students in the series.
The first season of Zabaan Sambhal Ke is available on Amazon Prime.
Shaktimaan is often credited as the first live-action Indian Superhero and it became one of the first Superhero characters who debuted in a television show and later made his appearance in comic books.
Created by Mukesh Khanna himself who also donned the superhero character in the series, Shaktimaan exceeded his expectations as the superhero became a household name and quite popular among kids. Although he was disappointed with the quality of special effects in the series, Shaktimaan did serve its purpose and officially gifted India its first superhero.
The entire series consisted of 450 episodes followed by an animated series and a television film. The series is available on Amazon Prime.
Malgudi Days (Prime)
Based on the literary works of R.K. Narayan, Malgudi Days premiered in 1986 on DD National under the direction of Shankar Nag. R.K. Narayan’s young brother cartoonist R.K. Laxman was roped in as the sketch artist for the series.
Each episode in the series is based on the novels and short stories written by R.K. Narayan. The bibliography used for the show includes the novels Swami and Friend and The Vendor of Sweets as well as the short stories collection titled Malgudi Days, An Astrologer’s Day, A Horse and Two Goats, and other short stories.
Kavitha Lankesh directed the 4th season following a hiatus of 17 years. All 4 seasons of Malgudi Days are available on Amazon Prime.
Raja Aur Rancho (Prime)
Raja Aur Rancho is an Indian detective series directed by Murali Nalappa and RajanWaghdhare. The show features Ved Thapar as the detective Raja and his pet monkey as his sidekick Rancho.
Both solve a new case every episode in the series. The show aired on DD Metro contains 103 episodes. The first 15 episodes of the series are available on Amazon Prime.
Ye Jo Hai Zindagi (Prime)
Ye Jo Hai Zindagi is a Hindi-sitcom created by the trio of Kundan Shah, Manjula Shah, and Raman Kumar. Ye Jo Hai Zindagi is an Indian sitcom featuring Shafi Inamdar, Swaroop Sampat, and Rakesh Bedi in lead roles.
Satish Shah, TikuTalsania, Sulbha Arya, and Vijay Kashyap play pivotal roles in the series. The first season of Ye Jo Hai Zindagi follows the story of the couple Ranjit and Renu, and Renu’s younger brother Raja played by Inamdar, Sampat, and Bedi respectively.
Versatile actor Satish Shah also earned fame by playing different characters throughout the series. Created by comedy writer Sharad Joshi, the series focused on everyday struggles and problems faced by a middle-class family in the city of Mumbai during the 80s. The first 25 episodes of Ye Jo Hai Zindagi are available on Amazon Prime.
Junior G (Prime)
Directed by Ghanshyam Pathak, Junior G follows the story of a 12-year old boy with superhero powers.
The main protagonist in the series is Gaurav Ray. The 12-year old orphan is blessed with magical divine powers when he finds himself in the middle of a crash between two asteroids. His superhero alter-ego is Junior G.
He uses his abilities to fight crime, especially his archnemesis and evil wizard Fyomancho. The series is available on Amazon Prime.
Mahabharat (Pen Bhakti YouTube)
Talking about Indian television series is baseless without the mention of the 1988 Mahabharat created by B.R. Chopra and directed by his son Ravi Chopra. As the name implies, the series is based on the Indian epic Mahabharat by Veda Vyasa.
From 2nd October 1988, the series aired continuously every Sunday till 24th June 1990. The Indian roads went empty for an hour when the show aired on DD National. Well, that was the impact of this epic series then. During the recent lockdown in India since 24th March, Doordarshan aired the show again.
It became the second most-watched Indian show after Ramayan that also aired during the lockdown. If you missed it, then you can watch the complete show on YouTube’s Pen Bhakti Channel.
Byomkesh Bakshi (Doordarshan YouTube)
The classic character created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay became the base for Byomkesh Bakshi. Directed by Basu Chatterjee, the series features Rajit Kapur in the titular character, whereas KK Raina plays his sidekick Ajit Kumar Banerjee.
The 1993-97 Byomkesh Bakshi series is probably the first television adaptation based on the detective. Although Byomkesh Bakshi is famous as the Indian version of Sherlock Holmes, there is a significant difference between the two characters.
While Bakshi seeks the truth even if it means letting the perpetrator die, Holmes aims for justice by legal means. The entire series is available on Doordarshan’s official channel on YouTube.
Jaspal Bhatti’s Flop Show (Doordarshan YouTube)
Jaspal Bhatti’s Flop Show is a 10-episode Hindi sitcom written and directed by Jaspal Bhatti. While the show only lasted for 10 episodes, I feel the series was ahead of its time.
Jaspal Bhatti played the lead role while his wife Savita Bhatti, who also produced the show, played his reel-life wife. Vivek Shauq, Rajesh Jolly, and B.N. Sharma also played different characters throughout the series. Each episode in the series features a satire on the socio-cultural problems faced by the common man in India.
The show initially premiered in 1989 on DD National. Later, the show got a rerun on the same channel during the 2020 nationwide lockdown, thanks to the 2019-20 Coronavirus Pandemic. You can watch the entire series on Doordarshan’s official channel on YouTube.
Circus (Doordarshan YouTube)
As mentioned earlier, Shah Rukh Khan began his career on the television platform and later got a break in films. His second television appearance came in 1989-90 series Circus.
Directed by Aziz Mirza and Kundan Shah, the series revolves around a circus troupe. Besides SRK, the series featured many versatile and talented actors like Makarand Deshpande, Pavan Kumar, the Lagaan fame Ashutosh Gowariker, Neeraj Vora, Hyder Ali, Renuka Shahane, and many others.
The series follows the struggles of a failing circus company and the challenges faced by Shekharan, played by SRK, who did not fancy the idea at first but later empathizes and tries his best to keep things running. The series ran for 19 episodes and now is available on Doordarshan’s official YouTube channel.