I have always seen people around me mock the content on Indian Television. Some say it’s inane and banal, while some find it way too regressive and absurd. But it was not the case two decades back. 20 years ago in the late 90s and early 2000s, Indian Television actually had a lot to offer, and it was fun and yet meaningful and progressive. So here is Whims and Quirks with Top 5 Indian TV Shows with a universal appeal that everyone can binge on this quarantine.
1) Just Mohabbat (Sony Entertainment Television – 1997)
Writer – Vijay Krishna Acharya , Director and Producers – Deeya and Tony Singh (DJ’s A Creative Unit)
Cast – Harsh Lunia, Alefia Kapadia, Kavita Kapoor, Saleem Shah, Ravi Baswani, Ashok Lokhande, Manoj Pahwa, Anita Kanwal, Frank Anthony, Aaditya Kapadia
Just Mohabbat has to be the most quirky and imaginative show I have seen. The show revolved around a 10 year old kid named Jai Mehrotra (played superbly by Harsh Lunia) and how he navigated through people around him that included his family and extended family, school friends and teachers, and also his imaginary friend, Gautam. The show dealt with husband-wife relationships, parenting, teen-age dilemmas, and touched upon human feelings like jealousy, greed, love and lust. It talked about how adults sometimes complicate things unnecessarily and how it impacts their kids in the process. I loved the treatment of the show, it was largely slice of life but at the same time took creative liberties and became totally wacky. Being a coming of age dramedy, it gave the audience the best of both genres, and as a result you laughed and also cried with the show. It is by far my most favorite Indian TV show ever. A special shout out to the entire cast that did a swell job throughout.
Where to binge watch today – SET Youtube Channel
Just Mohabbat – Episode 1
2) Hip Hip Hurray (Zee Tv – 1998)
Writer and Director – Nupur Asthana, Producer – UTV
Cast – Nilanjana Sharma, Pamela Mukherjee, Rushad Rana, Preeti Narayan, Nauheed Cyrusi, Purab Kohli, Sharukh Barucha, Zafar Karachiwala, Candida Fernandes, Mehul Nisar, Samantha Tremayne, Sveta Salve, Kuljeet Randhawa, Peeya Rai Chowdhary, Vishal Malhotra, Kishwer Merchant, Vinay Pathak, Sanjay Mishra, Beena, Suchitra Pillai, Sulbha Arya
Hip Hip Hurray was a teen age drama that revolved around a bunch of 12th grade kids and their life at their school, DeNobili High. The show had a very realistic portrayal of teen age emotions and the characters were super relatable. It talked about the importance of friendship in a highly competitive school world. The show also tackled a lot of social issues like pre marital sex and pregnancy, drug abuse, internet addiction, child marriage, depression, poverty, feminism during the course of its two years run. The majority of the cast was new and the raw energy and freshness came across in each frame. Also the camaraderie among the cast members was brilliant. If you want to feel nostalgic and reminisce about your school life, please give it a watch.
Where to binge watch – ZEE5 and Zee TV YouTube Channel
Hip Hip Hurray – Episode 1
3) Dekh Bhai Dekh (Doordarshan – 1993)
Director – Anand Mahendroo, Writer – Liliput, Producer – Jaya Bachchan (Saraswati Audio Visuals)
Cast – Navin Nischal, Farida Jalal, Shekhar Suman, Bhavna Bhalsaver, Sushma Seth, N K Shivpuri, Vishal Singh, Natasha Singh, Deven Bhojani, Aryan/Sunny Singh, Karishma, Urvashi Dholakia, Amar Upadhyay, Divya Seth, Daisy Irani
Number #3 on my list is the family sitcom, Dekh Bhai Dekh. The show was based on the story of Dewan Family, a joint family living in urban India. In every episode, the family dealt with a new problem and tried to find solutions in their own unique way, as one big team. The writing was super sharp as the humor came mainly from the witty dialogues. Each character was brilliantly casted and the ensemble cast soon became the perfect or ideal family of the 90s. Dekh Bhai Dekh believed in looking at life through a positive lens and not take everything seriously. Here, too, the chemistry among the ensemble cast is adorable leaving the viewer longing for a joint family. If you happen to binge watch the show, watch out for the London Episodes. They were my favourites growing up.
Where to Binge Watch – Dekh Bhai Dekh’s official Youtube Channel
Dekh Bhai Dekh Episode 1
4) Hum Paanch (Zee Tv – 1995)
Director – Kapil Kapoor, Writer – Imtiaz Patel, Producer – Ekta Kapoor and Shobha Kapoor (Balaji Telefilms)
Cast – Ashok Saraf, Shoma Anand, Vandana Pathak, Rakhi Vijan, Bhairavi Raichura, Amita Nagia, Priya Tendulkar, Vidya Balan, Priyanka Mehra, Ritu Deepak, Sujata Sanghamitra, Suchitra Bandekar, Pushtie, Pamela Mukherjee, Aruna Sangal, Sudha Chandran
Ekta Kapoor’s sitcom Hum Paanch is at number #4 on my list and it has to be one of the funniest shows ever. As the title suggests, the show revolved around 5 sisters each with their own quirk, and how they drove their father crazy in each episode, with their everyday experiments. The daughters were shown as a bunch of rebels with/without a cause, who did not mind taking risks sometimes with law and order, either for money or fun. In contrast, the father was a righteous middle class man who was averse to anything illegal. The interactions between the father and the daughters was brilliantly executed by the actors. Also the father’s dead first wife added a supernatural twist to the show.
Where to Binge Watch – Zee Tv’s YouTube Channel
Hum Paanch – Episode 1
5) Baat Ban Jaaye (Zee Tv – 1997)
Director and Writer – Ajit Pal , Co-Director – Chitraarth, Producer – Kosha Pal (Headline Entertainment)
Cast – Rohit Roy, Niki Aneja, Rakhi Vijan, Kunal Vijaykar, Bhairavi Raichura, Ranjeet, Kashmira Shah, Eva Grover, Kanchan
Rounding off my Top 5 is the Zee Tv sitcom ‘Baat Ban Jaaye’. This uber cool 90s show, based on the hit American sitcom – Three’s Company, revolved around Amit (played by Rohit Roy), a rich unemployed youth, whose only source of income was the rent that he got from his flatmates Niki and Rakhi. The rest of the show was based on how they navigated through adulthood together as friends living together in Mumbai and also how they dealt with their neighbour Khanna. The chemistry among Rohit Roy, Niki Aneja and Rakhi Vijan was a treat to watch in one of the select few Indian shows that celebrated adult friendship. If you have liked American Sitcoms like Friends and The Big Bang Theory, you will like this one too.
Where To Binge Watch – Zee 5 or Zee Tv’s Youtube Channel
Baat Ban Jaye – Episode 1
Honorable Mentions – Family No 1, Hum Sab Ek Hain, Shaka Laka Boom Boom, Khichdi, Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, Banegi Apni Baat, Papa Ban Gaye Hero, Hum Sab Ek Hain
Authored By – Abinash Gupta
(Disclaimer – I do not own the rights to the images displayed on the page. The rights remain with their rightful owners. The images are sourced from various public online sources to provide references to the TV Shows.)