Indian TV soaps were more progressive in the 1990s – 15 shows to watch out for

When I was younger, I used to look forward to progressive shows like Saans, Hasratein, and Astitva as well as other Indian TV soaps like Hum Paanch, Tehkikat, Shriman Shrimati, Byomkesh Bakshi, and Chitrahar (despite the fact some of them were much ahead of their time and so out of my league).

That was a phase when everyone would sit together and enjoy watching Indian TV soaps. We saw He-man, Chip-Dale, and Duck Tales on Sundays, along with our favourite breakfast.

In the 1990s, progressive television shows like Hasratein, Tara, and Saans portrayed strong, independent women who lived their lives on their own terms. Astitva was a story about a career-driven woman getting married to a man who was almost ten years younger than her, which was not common at that time. In the story, Saans, a housewife whose husband falls for another woman, makes the decision to alter her course of events and become independent.

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What has happened to Indian TV soaps now?

But, when I look at Indian TV soaps now, I just feel creativity has gone under the carpet. In a show, Simar transforms into a fly to avenge the family’s vamp. Naagin, one of the most popular shows features a woman who can transform into a serpent. Nowadays, women on Indian TV soaps never seem to have their own identities. They seem to view their husbands or in-laws as the focus of their world. The Indian TV soaps nowadays revolve around getting married, pleasing their husbands, and also plotting against their daughters-in-law. Dollops of make-up on their faces and wigs make them look unappealing and also scary.

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Due to their inability to progress, Indian TV soaps are excruciatingly pitiful. They are still using stale narratives, formulaic speech, and fixed formulas in 2022. They appear to be struggling to come up with concepts, ideas, and creativity that are wholly original.

It was wonderful to grow up in the early 1990s. Back then, the content was great, and the people appeared to be likeable. Now, there has been a noticeable shift away from television to OTT platforms as it offers more engaging content. Characters from the 1990s TV series Banegi Apni Baat, for example, were real and skillfully portrayed a variety of relationships.

Here are some amazing Indian TV soaps from the 1990’s that you shouldn’t miss, if you haven’t watched them yet.


One of Zee TV’s first daily Indian tv soaps was Tara, which starred Navneet Nishan as Tara and Amita Nangia as Sheena. The first dramatic TV show in Hindi, titled Tara, lasted for roughly five years. The storyline also focused on a modern urban woman and her best friends.

The protagonist of the show was Tara, who develops feelings for Alok Nath who was married. Tara was never accepted by his adolescent daughter. Every other character in the show had a relationship with the main character.

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2. Shanti

The plot centres on Shanti taking revenge on two guys for raping her mother. To solve the crime against her mother, “Tulsi,” who is played by Mohini Sharma, she employs her career as a tool, and she works to make apologies for their misdeeds.

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3. Hasratein

Zee TV broadcast the Indian soap opera Hasratein in the middle of the 1990s. It is adapted from the Marathi novel “Adhantari” by the late Shri Jaywant Dalvi. Hasratein places a strong emphasis on successful extramarital relationships. The main character of the story is Savi, a married lady who has an extramarital relationship with a married man while both of their spouses are aware of it.

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4. Saans

Saans was a breath of fresh air for the TV audience with its contemporary perspective on adultery, relationships, and also dissolution of marriages.

Neena Gupta played the female lead in Saans. Neena’s on-screen husband falls in love with another woman. She must now decide whether to start a new life and love, or give up on both. She chose to go the second route, unlike the majority of women at that time. In addition to travelling the path of self-discovery, she works very hard to achieve financial independence.

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5. Astitva

Niki Walia and Varun Badola’s Astitva, one of the top Indian TV soaps, was outstanding. The storyline of the show had an older woman getting married to a younger man, which I feel is still considered as a taboo in our nation, but the show significantly contributed to the normalization of such marriages.

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6. Kora Kagaz

Renuka Shahane plays Pooja, a bride who experiences her husband’s desertion shortly after their wedding. She strives to get her life in order with the help of her brother-in-law and mother-in-law. Pooja’s decisions and her adjustment to reality serve as the heart of the show.

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7. Tu Tu Main

Even if pompous saas-bahu shows dominate the TRP numbers, we still enjoy watching the well-known 90s sitcom Tu Tu Main Main.

It featured Reema Lagoo and Supriya Pilgaonkar as the domineering mother-in-law and the vivacious daughter-in-law, respectively, and it hilariously depicted their love-hate relationship. The lovable and humorous qualities of this Indian TV soaps were due to its simplicity and hilarious plot. They dressed simply, just like any other typical middle-class saas bahu, in contrast to today’s nani, dadi, and sasu maa who wear a lot of makeup.

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8. Hip Hip Hurray

If you were a child in the 1990s, you undoubtedly watched a lot of Indian TV soaps like this one. Hip Hip Hooray, which debuted in 1998, became an instant hit with young people across the country. The show used a combination of humour and emotion to evoke memorable moments of school and childhood.

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9. Banegi Apni Baat

The longest-running fiction show on Indian television is “Banegi Apni Baat.”The first teen soap opera in India, including topics like premarital sex and pimples.

It’s the story of a group of college students’ transition into professional lives, which is the central theme of the narrative. The narrative depicts both their enjoyable undergraduate years as well as the crucial practical decisions they make in their professional careers.

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10. Dekh Bhai Dekh

Dekh Bhai Dekh is one of the most funniest things to ever appear on Indian television. Watch it for the never-ending supply of oh-so-relatable humour and the fantastic cast. This is still regarded as one of the best Indian tv soaps.

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11. Shaktiman

Shaktimaan, the first superhero, was India’s answer to Superman, Batman, Spiderman etc. Pandit Gangadhar was a superhero at night and an innocent, nerdy photographer during the day. All of us children of the 1990s love this series. Being able to sing the theme song off-key is the ultimate sign of loyalty.

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12. Alpviram

The story of Amrita, a 21-year-old who was raped by her doctor while she was in a coma, is told in one of the most horrifying yet progressive presentations of its time. In comparison to today’s mindless TV series, the series’ treatment of problems like rape is far superior.

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13. Byomkesh Bakshi

One of my all-time fav Indian tv soaps is this one. Byomkesh Bakshi is a skilled detective. Going on a crime-solving, or rather “truth-finding,” binge with him was a lot of fun.

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14. Hum Paanch

It is quite challenging to constantly be surrounded by six ladies, and nothing did a better job of capturing the dad’s or husband’s struggle than Anand Mathur. All the girls had incredibly diverse personalities, and they got into various types of trouble in each episode. This show became a part of our daily lives.

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15. Shriman Shrimati

It was a lot of fun to see the characters in Shriman Shrimati, a sitcom about two neighboring couples whose husbands admire each other’s wives. You must not miss one of the top Indian TV soaps.

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By Poonam

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