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As a child of the 1980’s, I like most of my peers had three forms of entertainment. The first were the weekly comic strips that were listed on the last page of newspapers like The Time of India. From Monday to Friday, my friends and I would rush home from school, fling our bags and bottles to one side and grab the newspaper, which for me meant snatching it from my ever loving and kind grandfather, plonking myself on the sofa and with bated breath see how The Phantom and Mandrake battled evil doers and villains. The stark black and white images, which in retrospect seem dull and boring, never once dampened my enthusiasm back then. Shortly thereafter we had a children’s comic newspaper called “The World In Pictures” if I do remember correctly and my brain has not fogged up that badly. Though it did not last very long, it gave us another way to understand the world around us and also something to look forward to each month, in the mail. One might say, though in a poorer way, it gave us a sense of anticipation to watch out for the postman, just like children our age in the U.S.A. did when they waited for their latest comic issues of Batman and Spiderman.
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The second form of entertainment came when the only television channel in the country named Doordarshan, which we kids called “The Big D” lost its sense of being a master of boring content and twice in a year showed a small ounce of mercy by screening a few television kids’ shows during the holiday seasons. These cartoons included He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and G.I. Joe. At those times, even if someone had yelled fire, there was no way any of us would have left our spots in front of the old black and white or in some cases grainy color screens that graced our homes back then. In relation to that the third form of entertainment was in watching movies that aired once a week on The Big D or lo and behold on a VCP (Video Cassette Player) or VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) at a rich relative’s home. Going to the theater was not as accessible to us as it is nowadays. But while we often heard through other friends and family who had either traveled to or settled abroad about the great wonders of entertainment that were on offer in the West, we never felt deprived in any sense. To make up for what was lacking we had outdoor games and shops that sold a range of toys that we could amuse ourselves with. Life overall seemed pretty complete. But then came the economic liberalization of 1991 and with it our lives would never be the same again. With the advent of Star TV and numerous consumer brands entering the country over the next few years, my peers and I along with the rest of India were about to awaken to a new era of what true entertainment could be like and more importantly how we could also play a role in it. Next Take please!
(To Be Continued)