Coronavirus pandemic

Reruns of TV classics in India to keep older folk at home

MUMBAI • India's state-run broadcaster will rerun TV classics from the 1980s and 1990s to keep its older citizens, most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus outbreak, at home during a nationwide lockdown.

Beaming twice a day will be Ramayana, based on the Hindu epic of the same name, which was first broadcast in 1987 and reportedly became India's highest earning television programme.

Then, few Indians had TV sets, and the only channel on offer was the state broadcaster, but the streets would be empty during showtime.

Some people in smaller towns would even garland TV sets in awe, and tales are still being swopped about how the actors playing Lord Ram and his consort Sita would often be treated as gods in public.

Other rerun options being offered to the house-bound populace this year are Mahabharata, also a mythological epic, as well as Byomkesh Bakshi - the Indian detective series which was first aired between 1993-97.

Fans of Shah Rukh Khan can watch Circus, the show that introduced the Bollywood star to the world in 1989. Circus follows the lives of the artists of the troupe, unravelling different shades of characters as they struggle with tricky realistic situations, according to an IMDB entry.

The reruns effort is to motivate Indians to stay indoors during a 21-day lockdown that was announced with little prior notice by Prime Minister Narendra Modi late last Tuesday.

While Indian TV today offers a plethora of choices, shooting and production schedules have stopped because of the virus outbreak and millions of professionals working from home threaten to choke Internet bandwidth.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2020, with the headline 'Reruns of TV classics in India to keep older folk at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe