During the lockdown, TataSky channel number has been showing re-runs of old 70’s and 80’s TV sitcoms like “Different Strokes”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Sherlock Holmes” and “Mind Your Language”. I tried watching “Different Strokes” but couldn’t get back to it with the same enthusiasm. Watched a few episodes of Charlie’s Angels and then gave that up.
The two sitcom re-runs that Krishnan and I have been watching regularly are Sherlock Holmes and Mind Your Language. I absolutely love watching Mind Your Language. This was a three season sitcom shot during 1977 and 1979. Its about foreigners in London trying to learn English. It has students from India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany and France. Interestingly, there are two people from India – Jamila (who wears a cross, but claims to be a Buddhist with a Muslim name and a Hindu last name !!!) and Ranjeet (a Sikh from Punjab).
It was sad to see that Ranjeet introduces himself as being from Punjab and not India, especially given the fact that the Brits had left India less than 30 years before this serial was made. But it doesn’t take away the comedy from the show. Its a great cast. What is also sad is, all major religions are spoken about except Hinduism :). I expected a Brit TV show to have more information about India during the 70’s, but I guess I am mistaken. They were as clueless about us as always ! The nice thing though is Jamila wearing a sari in every episode.
China – as portrayed in 1977
Su-Lee, the student from China is portrayed as a Chinese diplomat, a communist, and an atheist who always carries around a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book from which she quotes extensively. She also has the habit of switching her l and r sounds. Mr. Brown, the English teacher often dismisses her Mao-isms by saying “That’s a matter of opinion.”
According to Su Lee, China was a democracy while all the “decadent” Capitalistic Western countries were dictatorships :):). China still seems to think that way !
I particularly like the constant bickering that happens between Su Lee of China and Taro of Japan.
Do catch this sitcom. Its clean fun and everyone is making fun of everyone else, so no reason for a particular country or religion to feel offended. That’s refreshing and sometimes it feels that we Indians need to loosen up a bit.
Read about the entire cast of Mind Your Language.