No Records of India’s First Soap Opera ‘Hum Log’: Seema Pahwa

While yesteryear popular shows Ramayana and Mahabharata are being re-run on Doordarshan during the lockdown, that option just does not exist for India’s first soap opera Hum Log which aired in 1984. The series started rolling when the then Information and Broadcasting Minister, Vasant Sathe got inspired by a Mexican TV series, that used entertainment to spread education and awareness.

Writer Manohar Shyam Joshi was roped in to create the show, while P Kumar Vasudev came on board to direct it. Hum Log featured actors like Vinod Nagpal, Abhinav Chaturvedi, Seema Bhargava Pahwa, Divya and Sushma Seth, who later went on to become household names because the show became hugely popular. According to records, Hum Log had an average viewership of 50 million per episode.

Unfortunately, the show itself has not been preserved or archived by Doordarshan. Speaking to The Quint, Seema Bhargava Pahwa, who played the role of Badki in Hum Log says, “The kind of stories that were made during that time, that honesty should reach people. Such a big story was told in such a simple manner, whether it was the direction or acting. The number of shots or the technology did not matter, what mattered was the content. The reason why people still remember Hum Log fondly is because of its story. So, I would definitely like it to be re-run (on Doordarshan), but unfortunately as far as we know, there are no records of Hum Log in India. It was India’s first soap opera, but there are no episodes of Hum Log saved with Doordarshan or with any of our private channels.”

Seema Biswas in Hum Log.

You can watch Seema Pahwa’s full interview here:

According to a report in 2009, Kamalini Dutta, who then headed the Doordarshan Archives, had said, "We don't have Hum Log in our library as we don't have the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) of the serial. It was a sponsored programme and was produced by outside (external) groups."

However, Satish Garg, who was the executive producer of Hum Log and retired from Doordarshan in 1994 says that the national channel did have the tapes till he retired. As of now, only the first episode of Hum Log is available online on YouTube:

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