This Early 90s Doordarshan Serial Makes The Perfect Feminist RomCom Even Today

Do you remember this old Doordarshan serial Kashish? A lazy browse on YouTube led me to this vintage gem of a TV show which left me with some unanswered questions.


Do you remember this old Doordarshan serial Kashish? A lazy browse on YouTube led me to this vintage gem of a TV show which left me with some unanswered questions. Read on.

It’s strange when you have so many choices staring at you, there’s nothing that holds your interest anymore. The paradox of choice has come into play with my current TV viewing behaviour. The more choices you have, the more the content gets scattered and diluted in its essence.

Growing on a diet of original content-rich old Doordarshan serials in my childhood, it’s not a surprise that most of them can still hold my attention from start to finish even today.

Some of my favourite serials from that bygone era are Mr. Yogi, Tehkikaat, Byomkesh Bakshi, Udaan, Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne, Potli Baba Ki Kahani, Tandoori Nights, Celeste, Oshin, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Mind Your Language, and more.

Doordarshan serial Kashish

Recently, while browsing through YouTube, I found one such lost love. Kashish featuring Sudesh Berry and Malvika Tiwari.

This serial is so deeply engraved in my memory that I still remember the female protagonist’s name, ‘Mona’ distinctly, the light pink cotton saree that she wears for her audition, her first encounter with Rahul, the male protagonist, in the elevator. I sat through the eight episodes with no break in-between.

While it was a satisfying watch, the end left me wanting so much more. The show’s called Kashish, and the focal point of the story was the attraction phase only. Another way of looking at it!

The characters are well-etched. I loved how feisty Mona was, despite her dainty exterior. I had a massive crush on Sudesh Berry back then, and it’s not changed watching him again after many years in this memorable role.

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A clean love story with depth

There’s another adorable parallel love-story, stitching in the backdrop – Priya and Dr. Merchant. Their relationship dynamics are entirely different from Mona and Rahul’s, which makes it interesting to watch. There’s also the statuesque Kalpana Iyer, who steals the show as Rahul’s mother.

Interestingly, there are no antagonists in this love-story, typical of love stories in the past. The only character who’s battling with his inner demons is Rahul, and Mona comes as his sweet reality check. There’s an ego-tussle that adds to the simmering tension between the two.

Kashish is a clean love-story, which doesn’t resort to gimmicks of sex, and yet the intimate chemistry of the lead pair scorches through stolen glances, unspoken words, and resigned sighs.

Compare with the toxic ‘heros’ today, like Kabir Singh

Compare Rahul Anand with Kabir Singh, modern-day romantic hero, and you are rudely awoken to the fallen standards in the romance genre.

Kashish was a class apart, a timeless romance. Despite his towering ego, occasional bouts of the foot-in-the-mouth syndrome, and paranoia, Rahul has an endearing earnestness, humility, and integrity as he stays faithful to Mona, even in the trying times of their romance.

Kabir Singh, on the other hand, goes around sleeping with anything prancing around in a skirt, in Priti’s absence, and yet freaks over Priti’s virginity. Double standards! Kabir Singh, the character, is a ‘horror of horrors’, and women can date and marry him at their own risk.

Strong, memorable female characters

The female characters in Kashish display clarity and courage to confront their male counterparts directly and take on them. Women like Mona, Priya, and Mrs. Anand represent the modern-day Indian woman. And they shot this serial in the early 90s.

There’s one scene which I liked in particular when Mona goes to collect her pay cheque, and Rahul slut-shames her due to his paranoid assumptions of her having a romantic affair. She refuses to take her salary, and tells Rahul, her boss, to keep her salary, and buy some humanity for himself with it. These are the kind of women protagonists I miss seeing on screen in mainstream media, who call a spade for what it is, and can stand up for herself.

Watch Kashish for a nice, cozy cover of romance in the wintry months. In the meanwhile, any leads on the below questions?
When did our filmmakers completely lose the plot and ‘it’?
When did the birds and bees stop humming?
Do you watch old Doordarshan serials online as well? Which ones would you recommend?

First published here.

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Tina Sequeira

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