Bombay Doordarshan was launched on October 2, 1972, with two hours of programming. This included four major children’s shows that catered to Bombay’s cosmopolitan audiences: Santakukadi in Gujarati, Kilbil in Marathi, Khel Khilone in Hindi and Magic Lamp in English. Magic Lamp aired on Sunday mornings and initially featured Nandita, a ventriloquist and her puppet Tikku. Its earliest producer Kunwar Sinha admits he was primarily, 'a news and current affairs man with no expertise in children’s programming.' To capture children’s hearts, Magic Lamp needed a complete makeover.
Cue in US-educated and WGTV public broadcasting honed Shukla Das. Das had witnessed the caliber of children’s television content in the States and was particularly blown away by the Jim Henson’s American children’s classic Sesame Street. She had also participated in their Children’s Television Workshop (CTW). Two years after joining Doordarshan, in 1974, the then Director General VS Shastri asked Das to take over Magic Lamp. He threw her a challenge – 'Transform Magic Lamp into a star programme for Bombay Doordarshan'.
This image gallery tracks Magic Lamp’s outstanding turnaround after Das’ takeover from 1974 up to 1979 through a series of quotes by Das herself as well as Rashmi Lamba, one of her assistants on the programme.