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6 Iconic Indian TV Shows

Nov/30/2022 / by Pratika Yashaswi

Great old programs that you can binge-watch right now

Picture courtesy of BBC

South Asian cinema is almost synonymous with Bollywood. Lesser known globally is its glorious history of TV serials. The soap operas we see on Indian television today have tired characters, cringey dialogues and trite plots. But it wasn’t always like this. Go back as far as the 80s and you will find amazing shows with well-woven storylines and richly detailed characters. And the best part? Many of these are now available online and some are for free! Take a trip down memory lane with 6 handpicked shows to curl up with this weekend.

1. Buniyaad

“Buniyaad” tells the story of Haveliram (played by Alok Nath), who is uprooted from his home in Lahore during the partition, and attempts to make a new life in Purana Qila, Delhi. It was directed by Ramesh Sippy, who also directed the iconic film “Sholay.” The show is said to be a near-perfect portrayal of the period between 1916 and 1978, which it is set in.

2. Circus

This program is unmissable for hardcore Shah Rukh Khan fans. Aside from the also iconic “Fauji,” it represents SRK’s earliest work. The 19-episode long show follows the lives of the artistes belonging to a circus troupe, as they struggle to stay afloat in trying times.SRK plays Shekharan Rai, the reluctant owner of Apollo circus, and the show begins with him trying to sell it off.

3. Shaktimaan

He-man, Shaktimaan, Krrish, Mr India — these are some of India’s most iconic superheroes but nothing makes you swoon and giggle like Shaktimaan does. Arguably the first Indian superhero, Shaktimaan is a human being who attains superhuman strength and power through deep meditation. He is constantly up against the evil Tamraj Kilvish, who is his arch nemesis.

4. Byomkesh Bakshi

Byomkesh is like Sherlock Holmes, except Bengali. Based on the cult-classic books by Sharadindu Bandhopadhyay,the series follows whip-smart, soft-spoken detective Byomkesh Bakshi and his sidekick Ajit Kumar, as they go around solving Calcutta’s most puzzling mysteries. Bakshi is played by theater great and national award-winning actor Rajit Kapur.

5. Sarabhai vs Sarabhai

The sitcom “Sarabhai vs Sarabhai” revolves around the lives of an upper class Gujarati family who live in a posh apartment building in upmarket South Mumbai. Featuring an ensemble cast, the show has been regarded as being ahead of its generation in terms of its concept, writing, popularity at the time of its initial release. It is now a cult classic.

6. The Kumars at No. 42

(Purchase on Amazon or stream on Apple TV)

“The Kumars at No. 42” is a classic, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning comedy show that ran for over 50 episodes in the early 2000s. It follows the story of a British Indian family of four including Sanjeev, the son of the family who dreams of being a television presenter. This show has had Greek, Armenian, and Latin American adaptations, all with varying levels of success.