Ekta Kapoor has entertained us since the mid 90's and her serials were not that highly glamorous back then. They were more entertaining and worth watching. Besides Ekta Kapoor, there were other makers as well who entertained us during the prime time. I still remember the days watching Zee TV for 2 or 3 Hours back back in 1992 when it first started airing in India. Zee TV was perhaps the first fully owned Indian Satellite TV Channel to be aired on our cable networks. It started on 2 October 1992 and was aired from 7.30 PM to 10 PM for the trial run. One Nepalese or Chinese TV Serial was aired in the evening along with some locally made TV Shows. Slowly ZEE TV commenced airing 24x7 and Sony TV and Star TV and Home TV also joined in. Back in the 90s, DD Metro and DD1 also enjoyed huge viewership. We bring you some of the most popular TV Channel Serials in India back in the 90s.
1. Hasratein (Zee TV)
Hasratein starred Seema Kapoor who was later replaced by Shefali Chaya as Saavi. Harsh Chhaya played Savi's boss 'KT' and Dharmesh Vyas played the role of Savi's husband. The show was a reflection of society and many people could relate to Savi's character. In Hasratein, Savi is married to a professor but later falls in love with her boss (played by Harsh). The serial was in the news for its portrayal of the adulterous relationship between Savi and KT. The title song "Hasratein Hi Hasratein hai aur kya hai" was extremely popular. The full series is available on Zee TV's YouTube Channel. All of you who enjoy serials with great acting and a good story line, must watch Hasratein. Seema Kapoor played the character of Savi for the 1st 108 episodes. She was then replaced by Shefali Chhaya, whose work earned her the Zee Woman of the Year award in 1997. Hasratein was directed by Ajai Sinha and for 208 weeks (208 episodes). Hasratein started in 1996 and ran through 1999.
2. Aur Shama Jalti Rahi (Zee TV)
Yet another serial that was liked by many, Aur Shama Jalti Rahi revolved around a Hyderabadi young girl married to an old man. Serial didn't go down well with many but was still appreciated by critics for its brilliant acting. Aur Shama Jalti Rahi was directed by Lekh Tandon.
3. Tara (Zee TV)
Directed by Raman Kumar and starring Navneet Nishan in the lead role as Tara, this serial was famous for its ending suspense. The serial used to end with a shock value and the next day episode used to make us all laugh because of the trivial suspense. The serial was aired at 9 PM on Zee TV from February 1993 – 1997. So at 9:29 PM, viewers were witness to this kinda scenes in Tara:
eg. 1: There is a serious conversation going on and suddenly the landline rings (We didn't have Cell Phones back then). Navneet Nishan answers the call and is shocked. Serial ends there. Next day when the serial resumes, we hear a postman calling to find the address.
eg. 2: One person kills the other, suddenly the door bell rings, an actress opens the door and is shocked. Serial ends there. Next day we find out that the Doodhwala had rung the bell.
Stupid melodramatic suspense endings aside, the serial enjoyed massive popularity in India. Amita Nangia who played Sheena was widely loved and so was Alok Nath and Deven Bhojani who played a gay character in this serial. The serial had Ratna Pathak, Shefali Shetty, Benjamin Gilani and many talented actors. Tara was about Tara, the central character and her 3 friends - Kanchan, Arzoo and Sheena. It was the first Hindi language drama series that ran for about 5 years.
4. Banegi Apni Baat (Zee TV):
Zee TV had so many serials that are still fondly remembered and Banegi Apni Baat is one of them. This show brought freshness to Indian TV back then. With a catchy title song, this serial was famous among youths and elders alike. Banegi Apni Baat aired on Zee TV from 1993 through 1997. Written by Pranay Singh and directed by Tony Singh & Sunil Prasad, Banegi Apni Baat starred Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan, Alyy Khan, Surekha Sikri, Aman Khanna, Bollywood actor R. Madhavan, Firdaus Dadi, Ikhlaq Khan, Rakhee Tandon, Sandhya Mridul and many other actors. Ironically, the Hunky Raman Trikha failed to encash on his popularity.
Banegi Apni Baat focused on the College life of its lead characters, the flirtation, the campus masti and then showed the journey of the college students, their family, their complex lives and explored many other issues.
5. Campus (Zee TV):
This was one of the most watched TV serials on Zee TV. I still remember the melodious opening number "Aaaksh yahi hai apni udaano ka...yeh gulshan hai apne armaano ka..campus..campus". Campus was a college based serial aired on Zee TV and starred actors like Arif Zakaria, Mahesh Manjrekar, Ninad Kamat and Milind Gawali in the lead roles. As per Milind Gawali, Campus remains his favorite TV Serial till date. Milind mentioned in his blog, "Campus will always remain very close to my heart, 4 years of television success, and all the work on television which I did that is more than 3000 episodes is all because of Campus, the character Ravi Bhatnager is still remembered by many." Campus was directed by Sanjeev Bhattacharya. Sanjeev also directed the popular TV show Amanat. Sadly he died of a cardiac arrest in 1998.
Dillagi wasn't that popular but it was entertaining for those times as we didn't have many channels to surf through. Very little information is available online about this serial. If my memory serves me right, then this serial starred Benjamin Gillani who played the CEO of a company and then there was a parsi/christian? woman who played his cute and funny secretary. I remember an Essel World cartoon character called "Kadamba" who used to always appear on the TV show. It was a way to popularize Essel World owned by the Zee TV group.
Directed by late Sanjiv Bhattacharya, Amanat was perhaps the most popular Indian TV Serial of the 90s. It had the highest TRP back in the 90s. It premiered on Zee TV on August 21, 1997. The story was about a traditional Indian man, Lahori Ram, who holds a strong set of values and beliefs. His life revolves around his 7 daughters: Santosh, Dinky, Bala, Guddi, Bunty, Munni, and Totey, each with her own peculiarities and problem. Pooja Madan's character was veyr popular. She played Santosh, the eldest daugther. Gracy Singh played Dinky (2nd eldest daugther) and her character was quite popular. She was cast in Lagaan opposite Aamir Khan and she left the serial. Post the success of Lagaan, her career didn't really take off. We had seen this trend where TV actress quit TV shows post getting a role in Bollywood movies, but every actor cannot be Shah Rukh Khan.
8. Hum Paanch:
Mathur family made us laugh for many years with their Hum Paanch serial on Zee TV. This serial was about Ashok Saraf who played Anand Mathura, his second wife Shoma Anand and Priya Tendukar who played the hilarious deceased wife giving her one liners from a photo frame and their 5 daugthers, Meenakshi - The Mahila Mukti girl, Radhika -partially deaf, Sweety - Dimaag Ka Screw Dheela girl, Kaajal - Female Gunda and Chutki - little fat gossip queen. We all remember Sweety (Rakhee Tandon) for her exciting door opening scenes with her song and dance. The show was up to date as it focused on recent events. I remember in the late 90s when then "Teen Mundi wali aurat" scare had frightened Mumbaikars, the show depicted the event very hilariously. Similarly the show ignited the feeling of patriotism during Kargil war where Kajal Bhai volunteered to fight for the nation. This was a show where the characters never sat, it was like a stand-up comedy. The show first aired in 1995 and ran till 1999. The series returned in 2005 and ran till mid-2006 but was taken off air due to poor TRPs. Vidya Balan played Radhika Mathura in some episodes.
9. Phillips Top 10/ Colgate Top 10:
This Bollywood countdown show was aired for an hour once a week on Zee TV. It was hugely popular and was sponsored by Philips and later by Colgate. The countdown show was started in 1994 and used chart ratings as collected by Music India Ltd., an association of music labels in India. The show was popular primarily because of good comedy timing of Swarup Sampath. She is undeniably the best comedian that Indian TV has produced.
10. Zee Horror Show: It started with Saaya where a woman's head is served on a dinner plate and then went on to become the famous Zee Horror Show made by Ramsay brothers. The music was very haunting and the episodes were extremely interesting. The ghost didn't look cartoonish and were scary enough to frighten us all.