There’s an overwhelming variety of television to watch these day. While that’s great, sometimes you just want to watch something tried and tested. Like the Hindi TV shows from the 1990s and 2000s that brought such joy. Some of them are streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. Here’s a handy guide.
‘Sarabhai vs Sarabhai’
In the hilarious sitcom Sarabhai vs Sarabhai (pictured above), the posh and la-di-da Maya Sarabhai (Ratna Pathak Shah) sassily taunts her scatter-brained and inherently middle-class daughter-in-law Monisha Sarabhai (Rupali Ganguly). The two constantly indulge in a battle of words and wits (that Maya usually wins) due to the fact that they epitomise two ends of the socio-economic spectrum. Maya’s husband Indravadan (Satish Shah), son Sahil (Sumeet Raghavan) and mama’s boy and aspiring poet Rosesh (Rajesh Kumar) get caught in the crossfire.
Creators: Jamnadas Majethia, Aatish Kapadia
Directors: Deven Bhojani, Aatish Kapadia
Cast: Satish Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sumeet Raghavan, Rupali Ganguly, Rajesh Kumar
Seasons: 2 (2004, 2017)
Khichdi is a tongue-in-cheek look at the Indian joint family system through the eccentric and affable Parekhs. They’re firmly united under the family patriarch, Tulsidas Parekh (Anang Desai), who is resolutely against selling the ancestral home, Mohan Niwas. Thus, the entire family is stuck together. While all the Parekhs are idiosyncratic and silly, the funniest of the lot are Tulsidas’ eldest son, Praful (Rajeev Mehta) and his wife Hansa (Supriya Pathak), both of whom are notoriously stupid.
Director: Aatish Kapadia
Cast: Anang Desai, Rajeev Mehta, Supriya Pathak, Vandana Pathak, Jamnadas Majethia
Seasons: 3 (2002, 2005, 20018)
‘Shararat –Thoda Jadu, Thodi Nazaakat’
Loosely based on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (the 1996 American sitcom, not the Netflix show), Shararat –Thoda Jadu, Thodi Nazaakat, as the name suggests, is a fantasy sitcom with magic at its core. The show follows Jiya (Shruti Seth), a young Indian fairy who tries to live a regular teenage life even as she’s surrounded by magic. But with a fairy mother (Poonam Narula) and fairy grandmother (Farida Jalal), Jiya can forget about being normal.
Director: Rajiv Mehra
Cast: Farida Jalal, Poonam Narula, Mahesh Thakur, Shruti Seth, Karanvir Bohra
Seasons: 1 (2003)
‘Shakalaka Boom Boom’
Ever wanted magical powers wherein you could draw something and BOOM! it would come to life? Sanju (Kinshuk Vaidya) from Shakalaka Boom Boom finds a magical pencil and boy does he go on a drawing spree. Of course, like every hero, he uses the powers of the magical pencil only for good and even travels to the future to save his family.
Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya
Cast: Kinshuk Vaidya, Hansika Motwani, Reema Vohra, Madhur Mittal, Mamik Singh, Sonia Singh
Seasons: 3 (2002, 2002, 2003)
Some of Bollywood’s leading writers and directors have cut their teeth on this show (a hidden gem) which is an anthology television series showcasing heartwarming, hilarious and poignant stories. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, Imitiaz Ali, Parvathi Balagopalan and Hansal Mehta among others, Star Bestsellers is a trove of stories. One, in particular, titled ‘Ek Shaam Ki Mulaquat’, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and starring the late Irrfan Khan and Tisca Chopra stands out for its direction, acting and narrative.
Directors: Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sriram Raghavan, Hansal Mehta
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon, Rajit Kapur, Tisca Chopra, Sushma Seth, Divya Seth, Suchitra Pillai, Sureka Sikri
Seasons: 1 (1999)