In this article we have listed some of the popular Hindi TV serials of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000 which were very popular and ahead of their time. For once they did not fall in the saas-bahu (daughter-in-law, monher-in-law) melodrama. Read on and enjoy. You can watch most of them on Netflix, Amazon Prime and ofcourse Youtube.

Indian television industry thrives on “Saas-Bahu aur Saazish”, but that wasn’t the case always. There was a time when the youth was just as appreciative of serials as the older generations. The 80s and 90s pioneered shows that became ground breaking for the Indian audience. The legacy of these serials lives on till date and makes us realize that Indian T.V. wasn’t always lazy, non-creative and repetitive.

1) SARABHAI V/S SARABHAI (2004-2006)


This Indian classic attempts an urban take on the typical “Saas-Bahu” relationship. Maya Sarabhai, (mother-in-law) the sophisticated, rich snob unfortunately has Monisha Sarabhai as her daughter-in-law, who just happens to be tremendously middle class. The show revolves around this comical family being based in a wealthy neighbourhood in SOBO, where their clashing lifestyles lead to daily struggles. The show has five main characters (the Sarabhai family) and certain reoccurring ones.  It won many hearts as it was first of its kind and refreshing to watch because of the great acting, well-written characters and of course the comic timing.

2) FAUJI (1989)

The show which led to the eventual launch of Bollywood’s biggest superstar was another great creation of the 80s. It was a coming of age show about the lives of young trainees who worked hard for their induction into the solider troops. Apart from their work struggles the show also focused on their personal dilemmas and how they overcame them to become the best versions of their selves. This was one of the few shows that showcased men going through emotional difficulties.

3) SPECIAL SQUAD (2004-2005)

The show often known as the superior version C.I.D, was a thriller detective show. This was and is preferred over CID for non-sloppy character writing and better story-telling. Another reason why it lives on as one of the greats is because it was succinct and ended precisely with 52 episodes and a clear message, unlike CID which ran on Television for more than 500 episodes and ended with losing its charm.

4) TARA (1993-1997)

This was the first Indian soap opera to have a female character as the protagonist with a rich character history and meaningful existence, which was contrary to the otherwise typical portrayal of women in television and movies at the time, where the sole purpose of a female lead was to be a side kick to the “hero” who was central to every story and was the sole sufferer of trials and tribulations in life.  The show, being a huge hit ran for five years and was perceived as probably the first attempt in entertainment industry that talked about feminism. It showed  how Tara(the lead) dealt with her daily life struggles that came with being a woman and how she fought the unjust society to create a place for herself as an independent woman living the urban life.


Khichdi-Popular Old Indian TV Serial

The show revolves around the dysfunctional joint family of “Parekhs” who are only a joint family because of their interest in the ancestral property which the grandfather of the family refuses to divide. The show is a take on the lighter side of Indian joint families’ daily ventures and the love-hate relationship. This was also the first show to appear in seasons. The family sitcom has been in the T.V. industry for a whopping seventeen years and been a childhood memory for almost two different generations. The first season premiered in 2002 and ended in 2004. The second one titled “Instant Khichdi” aired in 2005 and ended in 2006. Due to the huge success it attained in only two seasons, the producers came out with a movie in 2010 based on the show titled “Khichdi: The movie”, which ended up being equally successful. And thus the show runs till date.

5) SHANTI (1994)

This show had one of the most unexpected plot twists tied with several social messages to the end. The story begins with Shanti, a young journalist arriving at “Shanti mansion” to write the biography of two of the biggest Bollywood producers/directors; Kamesh Mahadevan and Rajesh Singh. The real story begins when the truths from their dark pasts are unfolded one by one showing their true selves that turn out to be quite different from their nation-wise revered personalities. It also throws light on their dysfunctional families and their hidden secrets. But the darkest secret of them all is Shanti, an illegitimate child of either Kamesh or Raj whose mother, a laborer working during the construction of Shanti mansion, gets raped by both Kamesh and Raj. The show instantly became a huge success due to its exceptional writing. It was one of the first shows to focus on an issues like extra marital affairs, adoption, crimes as grave as rape and also on mental issues like depression and drug abuse.

Indian entertainment industry has always had creative fervor and these shows are proof. Though there is no denying that this creativity seems to be vanishing with time. But it is never too late for a revivalist movement! Right?

Written by Sugandha Singh

A student of History(Hons) from Hansraj College,Delhi University. Sugandha loves writing on contemporary ideas specially in fields related to Heritage, modern-day dilemmas, nature and more. A Netflix enthusiast and lastly a hardcore GenZ.

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