16 Brilliant TV Shows From The 90s, When They Still Cared About Quality

I’ve had a strange experience with Indian television. Back in the 90s when I grew up, I remember me and my family enjoying hilarious, clever comedies and the intense, mature TV serials of the time. We then moved abroad, and had no clue what Indian TV was up to. But on coming back to the country in the 2000s, I couldn’t understand what had happened. I had grown up, sure. But um, wasn’t TV just way more…awful than it used to be? Was it just me?


Turns out, nope. TV had taken a weird turn somewhere and well, quality just wasn’t a priority anymore. And all we can do now is look back at the era with a longing and several sighs. Here are just some of the greatest TV gems of the time!

Dekh Bhai Dekh

Koi lauta de mere comedy ke din. Hey, remember when it wasn’t all slapstick but instead about witty situations and well-developed characters?

Saans

An affair and its many consequences. Neena Gupta – that brilliant lady wrote, directed and starred in this superb television show that honestly took the nation by storm. She also won several awards for it. People even sent the producers heartfelt letters on what the protagonist, Priya, should do next.

Family No. 1

OH GOD. If I could transport myself to my happiest childhood memories, it would probably be to catch this show! A single mom and a single dad – who have three kids EACH, find themselves forced to live in the same house. What joyful chaos!

Swabhimaan

Svetlana isn’t someone you instantly like – she’s a pampered mistress of a business tycoon. But this is her show. And you know what, you come to relate and sympathise with her, because that’s what well-made shows make you do.

Hum Paanch

So, it’s hard to imagine it now. But this is where Ekta Kapoor started her journey. Yup. One of our all-time family favourites is an Ekta Kapoor serial. And good god, was it hilarious! In the best way possible.

Just Mohabbat

Why don’t they make shows like this anymore? Do people not go through puberty anymore? This show was funny and mature in equal measure and made for the perfect watch for people who found themselves in a stage of life they don’t understand.

Star Bestsellers

This show was honestly a gift to the Indian audiences but I’m not sure it was ever fully appreciated. An anthology of stories from all kinds of different genres, this show was also the launching pad for directors like Imtiaz Ali and Tigmanshu Dhulia.

Malgudi Days

A wonderful, adorable, poignant show based on R. K. Narayan’s series of novels. And don’t even get me started on the catchy title theme.

Where are all the good days gone?

Flop Show

What would the 90s have done without Jaspal Bhatti’s brand of humour? This show was one of his biggest platforms to showcase the silly but serious satires that he came to be loved for! Here’s just one of his sketches.

Tara

This one is still remembered as one of India’s first feminist ventures in television. Progressive, opinionated and centered around the contemporary urban women, Tara was way ahead of its time.

Hasratein

I honestly cannot imagine a show today that would be able to handle the themes of love, marriage and its many complications the way this show did back then.

Shanti

This one is quite a cult classic today. Unlike female characters today, Shanti was a strong, independent, opinionated woman all set to take on society as it tried to bring her down.

Gubbare

A little-known anthology, this was a well-made, feel-good series that dealt with the many facets of human relationships. It’s also on YouTube, if you ever feel like giving the whole 24-episode series a watch!

Saaya

Remember a time when TV shows used to portray girls as well…people? Two friends, from radically different backgrounds, find common ground as life takes them through a journey of love, pain and power.

Chanakya

There’s classics, and then there’s this show. Critically acclaimed and widely heralded as a “milestone for Indian Television”, Chanakya is a show that needs to be watched to be believed.

I feel so much smarter just by watching this video.

A Mouthful of Sky

This little-known show was the first soap opera in English to be produced in India. A brilliant story, lined with some top-notch actors like Milind Soman, Rahul Bose and Samir Soni.