Doordarshan Sorry for the Interruption

Those were the heady days of Doordarshan – when ‘Sorry for the Interruption’ became the most watched programme in the history of television. So much so that even ‘Krishi Darshan’ provided instant relief and ‘Chitrahaar’ was pure salvation. As I went on a trail for the Nirma girl, I remembered a few more people that made ‘it’ happen.

Nirupama – The Nirma Girl

Washing powder Nirma, washing powder Nirma
Dudh si safedi, Nirma se aaye | Rangeen kapda bhi khil khil jaye
Sabki pasand Nirma | Washing powder Nirma





If you have been hearing this for the past 25 years, there has to be something special attached. Maybe it is the fact that the brand name is derived from Nirupama, the company owner’s daughter who died in a car accident but whose image has become iconic with the brand.


2. Karen Lunel – The Liril Girl
La la la la la la la la laa la laa.

Karen Lunel Liril ad Alyque padamsree
Quite simple isn’t it. When Alyque Padamsee decided to shoot an ad for Liril with a relatively unknown model, Karen Lunel who was wearing a lime green bikini in the icy cold waterfalls near the Guna caves in Kodaikanal, not even the folks at HLL would have thought it would become such a phenomenon. Not only did it capture the imagination of an ultra-conservative Indian society, it also multiplied Liril’s sales figures. So much so that McCann Erickson, the agency who was handed over the Liril account recently from Lowe India (formerly Lintas) who has held it for the last 30 years will have the ominous task of creating a new vigour in the brand.

Karen Lunel worked as an airhostess for Air India (apparently she was on duty in the flight when Rajiv Gandhi celebrated his birthday on his way back from USSR in 1988) and later became a DJ for Times FM. She is married to Tibetan Tashi Hishey and has a 18-year old son, Scott.

Bhai saab, aagar itni saari safedi yadee kaam dam me mile to koi yeh kyoun le, yeh na le“.
An obvious reference to the the cheaper competitor, Nirma(once available for Rs.3 per Kg) by Lalitaji, posing as the ‘typical no-compromise, quality conscious, bargaining Indian housewife’ set the momentum for Surf as a brand that stands for quality at an affordable price.

Kavita Chaudhary went on to achieve more fame in the television saga ‘Udaan’ portraying the real-life story of Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya, Kavita’s own sister who become an IPS officer overcoming the odds. Kavita is also a gold medalist from the National School of Drama. For a while she got into making corporate and ad films and did not have much success with her forays into screenplay and dialogue for movies as well as a socio-drama called ‘Your Honour’. Apparently, she is now planning to direct one.

Salma Sultan and her red red(or was that pink?) roseSalma Sultan Doordarshan news newsreader

Salma Sultan’s famous rose brightened up her otherwise cold renditions of the government press releases praising their own achievements. Set to retire in 1984, legend is that she was granted an extension after shedding a tear while reading the news about the Prime minister Indira Gandhi’s death.

Having got her first chance as a newsreader only because her compatriot Gopal Kaul came with a completely shaven head to avoid reading the news, her long association with Doordarshan continues even today after producing serials like ‘Panchatantra’ and ‘Jalta Jawal’ for DD under her production house Lensview Pvt Ltd.

These are the days of celebrities Anthony and Bani as they say and sometimes I miss those ‘Sorry for the Interruption‘ boards. Especially during reality shows.