Children’s show



‘We would sing this song in the school van all the way to school and woul try to imitate alibaba and even potli baba…”, Nevedita Mukherjee laughs out loud while remembering her childhood days.
She was talking about the popular children’s puppet TV series Potli Baba Ki aired in Doordarshan in 1991. It became a major attraction among elementary and primary school-going children as it featured various popular fairy tales in simple language and used to give good moral messages to children. The above mentioned song was composed by legendary Hindi and Urdu poet and lyricist Gulzar. It was directed by Sanjit Ghosh and Gulzar and was produced By Children’s Film Society of India.[2] it was a one –hour show aired each Sunday morning and the children were greeted by a long- white breaded old man, a n oriental story teller called Baba, who had stories in his “Potli”. He was rumoured to be living in Ghungar Village, and His prime occupation was to collect stories and fables which his mother had left hidden under the rocks. The present generation might only know about a certain Benjamin Button but Polti Baba was in most of our knowledge the first man who was born as an old man and was growing young through the process of the serial and was to die as a young. The most interesting feature of the show was the use of Indian made puppets which would teach good manners and values and solve problems in their own ways; this would largely take place in the first half of the programme. The second half would narrate the stories like Alibaba and forty thieves; and Sindbad the sailor.

“My most cherished all time Hindi serials are Malgudi Days,( Nukkad and Mirza Ghalib)- I would love to watch them again and again”-commented b yMr. Masood Akhtar.
Mr. Majoj Swami-“ …malgudi days was one of my favourite all time TV serial.
Both of them were referring to Malgudi Days, an Indian television series of 38 episodes aired on Doordarshan based on the works of R.K. Narayan. The series was directed by actor and director, Shankar Nag while Carnatic musician L. Vaidyanathan composed the score; Narayan's brother, R. K. Laxman was the sketch artist. The series was made in 1986 by film producer T. S. Narasimhan and included Anant Nag as the lead actor. The serial was so popular both among children and the adults that due to popular demand it was re-telecast on Doordarshan and later on Sony Entertainment Television. The viewer felt at home with the idyllic setting, innocent characters having small problems, and only imaginary demons to contend with, leave one wishing for such a laidback life. Be it swami’s tautness to escape from studies, his friendship with Mani and Rajam, their much hipped cricket match, every episode seemed dear to the audience.[3] The title music ‘tana na nanana, tana na nanana’, was a signature tune of the show, just in case one could not recall the name of the show, they would immediately refer to it with the music. Even the cartoons of the famous statue and of swami and the other characters coming along the initial credits endeared the kids so much that one of the art teachers interviewed commented that at that time suddenly every enthusiastic child wanted to learn cartoon drawing. They would call it “the malgudi cartoons.”
Shaktiman was the Indian answer to the western superheroes. It had started in 1997 on Doordarshan and continued for about 300 episodes for seven years. Shaktiman was quite similar to Superman in its format.[4] Gangadhar Viyadhar Omkarnath Shastri’s hidden identity was Shaktiman, a superhero who drew his powers from yogic practice. If Superman had Louis, Shaktiman had Gita Viswas, a lady reporter of a Hindi newspaper. During 2005 POGO Channel had planned to make a rerun of the series and Mukesh Khanna who had acted as Shaktiman said that the rerun would faster in its narrative than the original telecast. The bad man of the serial was Kilvish, the dark lord of evil and nearly in all episodes Shaktiman had to combat his retinue of evil followers. Unfortunately Shaktiman promised too much protection to the children, his faithful fans.[5] Kausalya Santhanam, in the article, “Copy Cat Drama” that appeared in The Hindu, wrote- “The Shaktimaan serial telecast a few years ago had children trying to dive down buildings resulting in fatal accidents. "Learning by imitation is a method followed frequently by people and children are no different," says Calcutta based clinical psychologist Dr. Rajyasree Bandhopadhyay.”[6] In a letter to the editor of The telegraph, Kolkata edition, K.C. Karmakar wrote, “Television has hardly proved to be an unmixed blessing for people. Many programmes have often had calamitous effects on the lives of children and their families. In trying to emulate their action heroes, Shaktiman and Superman, from the TV, many children have faced dire consequences. Many children have actually lost their lives under the delusion that they might be successfully able to imitate these TV heroes. For parents, allowing children to have a bit of such unalloyed fun has amounted to playing with fire. The government must impose restrictions on TV channels to relieve parents of such worries.”[7]
Saka Laka Boom Boom- flooded the market with the magic pencil. All of a sudden all birthday girls wanted it and boys craved for it. Kids who had it would show it off to their friends. Children would keep it along with them all the while even went to sleep with it by the pillow.  If in a problem quite significant to them, they would hold on to the pencil and call for help, a red glow( a red bulb fixed at the end of the pencil’s back) and the kids believed the magic is on. A housewife found it very difficult to pacify her 4 years old son who came face to face with the reality but refused to believe that Sunja and his pencil was fictious. Sunju was our Harry Potter. Devoid of muggles and hobbits though, Saka Laka Boom Boom was full of magic and wizardry. Aired on weekdays on STAR plus,the main plot comprised of Sanju and his magic pencil. Like any other boy his age, Sanju is a normal student until he discovers a pencil by accident. The pencil, he soon finds out, has extraordinary magical powers. What follows is a tale of Sanju and his adventures with ‘his new friend’. He starts using it to help people. In the process, he develops an everlasting bond with the pencil. They are inseparable through thick and thin and as the story unfolds, it’s a one-way ticket through the fantasy world of children. However, like all fairy tales, this one too has a dark side. Enter the anti-heroes: Tiger, Sweety, Kalicharan, Changu and Mangu, who are out to grab the pencil. But all their attempts fail miserably, leading to immense mirth and entertainment for the young viewers.[8]

1)    The song was provided by Subhasis Chakraborty.
2)    The inputs about the serial was provided by Mr. Masood Akhtar off the record; i.e, apart from his main interview.
3)    The Tribune, spectrum, Television, Longing For Laughter-Randeep Wadera; Sunday, April 2, 2006.
4)     The Telegraph Screen On & Off,  Shaktiman back , Sudeshna Banerjee, Wednesday, June 15, 2005
5)    Times of india- Shaktiman stunt kills schoolgirl-22 June 2004
6)    The Hindu- KAUSALYA SANTHANAM,”Copy Cat Drama”,Saturday, Nov 13, 2004 .
7)    The Telegraph- Letters to the Editor,15th march 2004
8)    The Tribune: There is magic in the air, Mukesh Khosla ;Sunday, August 11, 2002.