I am watching more than a dozen serials for last few months in TV and really like some of them.
I prefer to see Star Plus serials because of the grandeurs and directions, but Zee and Sony provide various tests of serials.
But the best 3 TV serials I have seen so far are all in DD1, the national TV channel. The best one so far is MAHABHARATA. I can remember those days, when the whole India used to watch this serial, holding all their work. Television was just started entering in middleclass house that time. B R Chopra was excellent in directing the serial and this is best Indian serial so far. It was far better than the slow Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana.
Malgudi Days and Swaviman are another two favorites. Shobhaa de’s Swaviman is first TV serial, which expressed the high society on India. Asutosh Rana and Manoj Vajpayee were major actors in this serial. After this, they got better chances in Cinema.
Malgudi Days was based on Twentieth-Century Classics by R. K. Narayan (Author), exquisite representation of ground reality of India. The child character, Swami, was smart and impressed me a lot in my childhood.
Some of the favorite serials in my childhood were Ham Hindustani, Bagle ki Duniya, Mungeri Lal ke Hasin Swapne, Fauji(Shah Rukh Khan’s debut: He started his career in 1988 by appearing in the television series Fauji playing the role of Commando Abhimanyu Rai. He then played a minor role in the serial Circus), Santi etc.
Slowly the changes happened in Indian TV serials. From short story based or one episode based serials it evolved as a continuous story line, which last as long as viewers want it and ends soon the demand is less. Ekta Kapur’s K series serials are the pioneers in this serial era. The most demanding one were “Kyunki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu thi”, “Kahani Ghar Ghar ki”. Some more are “Kahi to hoga”, “Kasauti”, “Kumkum”, “Karam Apna Apna” etc all in Star Plus.
New generation of Indian Serials are mostly based on Leading Female Characters of Elite business families. Be it Tulsi, Parvati, Kosis, Prerna, Kumkum, Gauri, Priyanka (Virasat), respectively. These characters are the main force to drive the continuous story line. These are no where related to normal Indian middleclass society. The family dramas are sometime so much exaggerated that often it loses the credibility of the viewers.
But the central characters are ideal and framing the mindsets of common Indian, remembering our traditional values in the age of Globalization and shaping today’s Indian families to some extent. I like some of them specially their unique way of handling situation at the time of family crisis.
My best serial now is CID (detective serial) and I like history based TV serials, like Ravana and Prithiraj Chauhan.
But since TV serials are now more focused on this kind of storyline, our film directors can go for different one.