From ‘Shaktimaan’ to ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh’: Best Indian television shows from 90s

The 90s was the decade when the Indian television industry stepped into the consciousness of the masses with the arrival of shows that brought new ideas and concepts to the living rooms of the viewers. Before the arrival of the daily soaps, Indian television was less focused on melodrama but on wholesome entertainment. 

This is the list of the best shows that the 90s had to offer:

Tu Tu Main Main, DD Metro and Star Plus

Tu Tu Main Main was sitcom starring the late Reema Lagoo and Supriya Pilgaonjar which used to air on Star Plus. The show followed the daily domestic arguments between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in law. It was a refreshingly non operatic twist on the Saas-Bahu serials and delighted audiences with its humor and moments of heartfelt emotion. Lagoo and Pilgaonjar portrayed their characters without any leaning into the melodramatic antics and were lavished with praise and love from the viewers.

Shaktimaan, DD1

Shaktimaan was dubbed the “Superman” in the Indian households when it first in 1997. Starring Mukesh Khanna in the career defining role of Pandit Gangadhar Vidyadhar Mayadhar Omkarnath Shastri, who’s a superhero in disguise of a photographer, the show was very popular among the audiences. Shaktimaan still remains a cultural icon for many and is one of the most identifiable characters from the 90s television shows. The show was similar to superman, but took a more comedic tone toward Gangadhar’s adventures. 

Hum Paanch, Zee TV

Hum Paanch was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 90s. It was the story of a middle class working father, Anand Mathur (Ashok Saraf) who has trouble living with his five daughters and wife but finds happiness in their company. The episodes began with the sisters attempting something new, and then stepping into hilarious problems. The actors who appeared on the show; Vidya Balan, Rakhee Tandon, Bhairavi Raichura, Vandana Pathak gained popularity and were recognized as icons of daily television and are still fondly remembered through their characters.

Dekh Bhai Dekh, Zee TV

A sitcom about three generations of a family residing in Mumbai suburbs, Dekh Bhai Dekh was an instant success on television because of its relatable themes and humor. The show starred respected acting thespians like Sushma Seth, Farida Jalal, Navin Nischol, Shekhar Suman and who brought gravitas to their characters while still performing comedic scenes for the audiences.

Boogie Woogie, Sony TV

This dance competition show set the template for all entertainment and competitive shows on the Indian television. Javed Jaffery acted as the judge, while Naved Jaffery and Ravi Behl were the hosts of the show. Along with showcasing dancing talent from all over the country, Boogie Woogie also started the trend of having Bollywood celebrities as guests and even taking part in the competition.

Byomkesh Bakshi, DD National

A detective series based on the character written by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, and played by Rajit Kapur, Byomkesh Bakshi became one of the most popular and acclaimed series of the 90s. The series constituted of episode centered on mysteries that Byomkesh had to solve with the help of his sharp intellectual and detective skills. Byomkesh was concerned with truth, and always attempted to understand the reason of the crimes rather than putting the criminals in jail.

Chandrakanta, DD National

A fantasy show based on the novel by Devaki Nandan Kharti, Chandrakanta enchanted the viewers with its tales of heroism and sacrifice with lush visuals. The show starred Shahbaz Khan as Kunwar Vikram Virendra Singh and Shikha Swaroop as Princess Chandrakantaa. Their love story and chemistry was a big reason for the popularity of the show. The show was a staple for all the fantasy shows that were broadcast in the next decade.

Captain Vyom, DD National

A futuristic drama thriller directed by Ketan Mehta and starring Millind Soman in the titular role, Captain Vyom was a blast of fresh something new to the Indian households. The sleek and stylish look of earth by 2123 and the intriguing plot that mixed space adventure and action with comedy and crime drama kept the audience hooked and made the show a big hit.

Shrimaan Shrimati, Doordarshan

Shriman Shrimati took the universally acknowledged statement of “Love Thy Neighbor” and twisted into comedic gold as a pair of couples tried to woo each other’s spouses. Starring Jatin Kanakia, Rakesh Bedi, Reema Lagoo and Archana Puran Singh in the lead roles, the show made use of ideas like love and marriage and used them to showcase how normal people react to unexpected infatuation with other people.

Surabhi, Star Plus

A cultural show hosted by Renuka Shahane and Siddharth Kak, Surabhi was concerned with showing the diversity of India and its culture. It was praised for bringing in cultural awareness to the homes of people, and even featured in the Limca book of records for accomplishing the largest audience response ever in Indian television history. Renuka and Siddharth received plenty of letters with queries, which clearly shows the impact of this venture. 

Tara, Zee TV

Tara was about the struggles of a woman in an urban society, and how she’s able to balance her personal life with her professional aspirations. Tara became renowned for its positive and liberal perspective of a modern day woman. Navneet Nishan’s performance was recognized for its subtle nuance, and the plot involving other female characters was also praised by the viewers because of its progressiveness. 

Swabhimaan, DD National

Directed by Mahesh Bhatt and written by Shobha De, Swabhimaan was a tale of a woman on the crossroads of life. Kitu Gidwani played Svetlana, who must face the society as the mistress of a rich tycoon, and deal with his legacy. Swabhimaan was a modern soap opera that dealt with themes like infidelity, and materialism. The plot was filled with twists and dynamic characters and villains. Bhatt’s directorial sensibilities and De’s writing made Swabhimaan a must for the Indian audiences. 


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