I was born and brought up in Chennai, with the typical English as first language and Tamil as second language, education. I didn't see the need for knowing Hindi then, and neither did my parents. In fact, there was absolutely no discussion or confusion about what my second language should be in primary school (we had 2 options - Tamil and Hindi). The reasoning was simple - mom and dad refused to enrol me in for a subject they wouldn't be able to help with at home. But, that didn't stop us from listening to Hindi music and going for Hindi movies. The former is still manageable but imagine three pure-bred Tams sitting in the cinema hall watching a Hindi movie set in deep rustic Uttar Pradesh. Actually, don't imagine. Just think about how we didn't even have Wiki to read up the story later on. We still managed to enjoy the movies because we most often than not went for the sake of them songs. Those were the days! Anyway, I digress.
I did struggle though. I liked (still like) humming songs, and my idol A R Rahman was becoming big in Bollywood. Which means I had to, had to, hum Hindi songs. And, become the butt of all jokes in school because of those mean girls in the other sections who had Hindi as their second language, and also looked North Indian (white, you know; if you don't, read this). So, I was always on the lookout for learning Hindi words, in bits and pieces.
And, I got the perfect tool for that in that '90s Doordarshan world, when Tamil DD didn't even have serials of its own. We used to get serials dubbed from Hindi, titles included. Which means Junoon became Pidivatham (adamancy), Imtihaan became Sodhanai (challenge), Dard became Anbai Thedi (in search of affection), Shanti stayed Shanti and Tu Tu Main Main became... I don't remember. I still don't know whether those Hindi titles really match in meaning to their Tamil counterparts, but they are still stuck to memory.
The serials themselves were not noteworthy, and if I remember right, many of them were never taken to completion. Not that my parents let me see any of them, except for those snatches in between after dinner time when I had furnished sufficient evidence of completing my homework and revisions. However, I did insist that I would watch "Dekh Bhai Dekh", which I think aired every Thursday from 9.30 pm to 10 pm. That's when DD would decide to throw a bummer. Half the time, the tamil version wouldn't get telecast, leaving me alone with the Hindi version. Which meant I spent half an hour watching Shekhar Suman prancing up and down an elaborate joint family set, while Farida Jalal would put in guest appearances on and off with some wisecracks (I think so, because the serial would have that silly laughter track running when someone said something funny).
Sundays were a different deal though. There was Shaktimaan and Jungle Book on TV and I was "allowed" a couple of hours after getting up in front of the idiot box. Do you know who my first crush was? It was Captain Vyom, of the Captain Vyom fame. Did you click through and figure out who that is? Had my head in the right place even then, didn't I? Why don't they make such gorgeous looking serial heroes anymore on Indian television?!
P. S. This post is the nineteenth in the A-Z blogging challenge series for April.