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An episode in history

It burst onto the Indian teleision screen 25 years ago and changed it forever.

Hum Log,the serial that revolutionised Indian television started on July 7,1984. Twenty five years later,Divya Seth Shah,one of the prominent actors in the serial,reminisces on the era gone by

It burst onto the Indian teleision screen 25 years ago and changed it forever. The pioneering soap of the country,as the name Hum Log suggests,was all about the struggles and aspirations of the quintessential middle-class Indian family of the 80s. It not only went on to become the most memorable serial in Indian television history,it also gave birth to some legendary characters,which have stayed on in the hearts of the masses ever since. If you remember Hum Log,you can’t forget the character of the second eldest daughter of family,who aspired to be an actress. As the serial celebrates its 25th anniversary today,TV actor Divya Seth Shah aka Majhli,who is now settled in Pune,speaks about the serial,the character essayed by her and the changes that the industry has gone through over the years.

On being known as Majhli
I don’t think people still know me as Majhli. But yes,the popularity gained by Hum Log and the strong shades of the various characters made the serial unforgettable. Since the storyline was so brilliant and close to reality,people could actually relate to one or the other character of the family.

The dream role
It was the first year of my college and I was just 16-years-old. During my summer holidays,my mother (Sushma Seth — who played the character of Dadi in Hum Log) informed me about this role which the production house was looking out for. Although I had not taken any formal training in acting,I was actively involved in my mother’s theatre group. I think that helped me get the role.

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The Hum Log experience
Everything was remarkable about the serial,the cast,the crew,the story and the dialogues. It left its imprint on the Indian television industry. All actors were amazing people to work with and we were like one big family. We all got along very well with each other. It was like a dream come true to work with such talented people. I consider myself lucky to have got such an opportunity at such a young age.

On the most memorable incident
I remember we were shooting for this episode where Majhli runs away with a con guy; when she comes back home,she has to show the stigma she experiences through her expressions. I did it once,but after the shot,director Kumar Vasudev was not impressed with the scene and asked me to, ‘act like the character Majhli and not Divya.’ In the next shot,I just let it flow. After the shot was over,the director forgot to say ‘cut’ and when I turned around,everyone,including my mom was in tears.

Changing face of television
Technically,the industry has grown a lot and has reached a different level altogether. Whether it’s the lighting,camera or costumes – everything is well-organised and co-ordinated. Money-wise,it’s well paid. But unlike earlier,when story used to be the king,serials being made today are way away from reality. There are serials which portray the woman character getting up early in the morning,with embroidered saree,jewellery and full make-up. These serials are not for everyone. There is a section of women who want to lead such lives and they are the ones who make good viewers of such soaps.

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Old ties
There are some fond memories of working with the team of Hum Log,which I will cherish forever. We may not call up each other on a regular basis,but yes we do remember each other and whenever we meet at a party or an event,we have a good time together.

Celebration time
I am currently not in India,so I would not be able to attend the celebrations,if there are any. However,it would have been great to attend such a function.

First published on: 07-07-2009 at 03:46:43 am
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