Home Top Stories The Madras that loved Oliyum Oliyum and Chitrahar

The Madras that loved Oliyum Oliyum and Chitrahar

The Madras that loved Oliyum Oliyum and Chitrahar


Lilting numbers: Oliyum Oliyum, the most popular programme on Friday nights, beamed in Tamil film songs, often a blend of the old and the new.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

These are days when entertainment often ripples from our palms, thanks to omnipresent mobile phones. A movie, some music, a YouTube video of a biker or a slice of sporting action can all be consumed on the go as long as there is connectivity. It also causes a problem of choice and mindless scrolling.

If these are days of transient attention spans, back in the Madras of the 1980s, we were all part of a captive audience glued to good old Doordarshan (DD). There was one channel initially which oscillated between content from Madras and Delhi. Yet, every programme had a loyal viewership.

Multi-spoke antennae

Still for the adventurous, craving for more, the trick was to buy an additional multi-spoke antennae, place it on the terrace, and connect it to the television, usually a Solidaire or Dyanora or the government-produced EC TV. At night, this antenna would be turned a bit, someone at the basement will keep an eye on the idiot box and holler: “signal irukku”.

And then it was time to consume Rupavahini from Sri Lanka with excellent Tamil programming, be it movies or songs. This was akin to that phase of keeping an eye on Pakistani Punjabi serials from Indian Punjab. However, DD had its charms, even if we were all held hostage and a bit of Stockholm Syndrome came into play.

Perhaps, the most popular in this city was Oliyum Oliyum on Friday nights, which beamed in Tamil film songs, often a blend of the old and the new. Wednesdays were meant for Chitrahar that telecast Hindi songs. During weekends, there was Malarum Ninaivugal that did nostalgic interviews with celebrities, often from tinsel-town. And if Saturday evenings were reserved for a Hindi film, on Sunday, it was Tamil’s turn.

Feedback zone

There was even a programme for farmers called Vayalum Vaazhvum, but perhaps the most unique was Ethiroli. It was similar to what you see in newspapers, the letters to the editor section, just that on television: you had an anchor opening inland letters and dipping into postcards and reading out viewer responses that ranged from bouquets to brickbats. A senior DD official sagely responded and this feedback zone had its loyal fans too.

There was some unique ideation too and once DD organised a freewheeling chat between Sunil Gavaskar and Kamal Haasan. There was banter, sport and celluloid in the air. Later, DD 2 popped up, and as the years receded, cable connection became the norm as MTV and Channel V sauntered in.

Now, we live in a digital era, digging into our entertainment fix through laptops, cell phones, and smart TVs. DD still remains, offering an old-world feel, while viewers of a certain vintage have moved on.


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