Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
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New Delhi: There are only so many TV shows that see a huge demand for re-telecast years after they go off air. One among them is M.A.D aka Music, Art, Dance.

When many of us were locked inside our homes during the pandemic-induced lockdown last year, fans of this popular show, which once ruled the Indian television, reminisced about it and demanded its re-telecast. Demands were made to bring back Harun Robert aka Rob, who hosted M.A.D., the art and crafts show on Pogo channel

This Sunday morning show is still etched on the memories of both millennials and the Gen Z generation.

“M.A.D. was truly a mad ride, filled with fun, creative and interesting things. I liked how Rob turned waste materials into aesthetic things and even taught us to do that. That was the time when we used to exchange handmade cards on birthdays and actually invested our time into making them. I remember making a pop-up card that I learnt from the show and gifted it to my best friend, who has kept it safely even today,” said Varun Bhardwaj, a 21-year-old computer engineering student from Chandigarh.

But people also remember the show because of Rob, his French beard and cool headgear. A graduate of the National Institute of Design, he took viewers on an interactive and creative journey, transforming ordinary materials into pieces of art and craft.

At times, he would don a magician’s hat, making science projects all the more cooler for children, and on other days, he would just splash colours across a floor or on canvases to make three-dimensional paintings. From making a center-of-gravity toy to a flying balloon and pendulum toys, this show made science principles fun for children.

Rob recalled how his journey with the show began. “I was working with an animation studio when I got to know that a TV production company was looking for an artist for a kids’ show. But I later realised that I also had to be in front of the camera which I had never done. However, I auditioned for the role. As it usually happens, they had given me a script for audition but I made my own skit for it and performed. They got impressed and I got the show, and the rest is history,” he told ThePrint in a telephonic interview.

The show was created by Miditech, an Indian television production company. The first season was aired in 2005, which became an instant hit. There were six seasons in total before it went off air in 2010.

Manvi Sachdeva, a PhD student at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology, said, “My younger brothers and I were crazy fans of the show. Never missed a single episode and his (Rob) science projects were my favourite. I remember I once recreated a volcano he taught us, in a school science exhibition. The show also helped me realise how science could also be fun.”


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Best out of waste

Armed with simple craft tools like pencils, paintbrushes, crayons and paper, Rob would explore various possibilities of creating art out of ordinary materials. Whether it was with plastic bottles, discarded floppy disks, or newspapers, children discovered nothing in Rob’s world was considered waste.

“As a curious child, I loved experimenting with new materials and mediums. This curiosity led me to become who I am today. I get inspired by everything and anything around me. Nature itself is my best inspiration. If you just stop everything you’re doing and take time to just look around you, you will realise that there are so many things that can inspire you,” Rob said in an interview.

He also said that his ideas were simple enough for kids to understand and the techniques could be utilised by adults for complex projects. His target, however, was children because he wanted to build a strong, creative foundation and expand the horizons of their imagination.

“I have had parents and grandparents telling me that, thanks to my show, kids are spending time with them at home creating things. It is a very rewarding feeling,” Rob told ThePrint. “We were trying to change the mentality that art is just a hobby. I believe that creative people are better problem solvers.”

He added, “Parents used to come up to me and say that because of me, the household waste was recycled.”

‘Show reminded of simpler times’

M.A.D. was also a masterclass on DIY (Do It Yourself) products — a booming trend now.

“There weren’t many shows at the time that did what I did. The ones who are doing it on digital platforms now have grown up following my work. So it’s great that I can connect with them and discuss ideas,” said Rob, who popularised DIY through M.A.D in India.

But there was a whole team working alongside Rob. “For one season, I had to come up with 100 quirky ideas. But it is a dream come true for an artist. If you have a great idea and someone is ready to fund it, there is no better feeling than that. If I wanted to break two autos and join them together to make a dinosaur, the team assured me I could do that without worrying about who’ll pay for the broken autos,” Rob told ThePrint.

For some, the show is also a reminder of simpler times, before computer and laptop screens took over people’s lives.

“I have spent many holidays trying to make art and crafts. There was one show on Doordarshan named Tarang, where Arvind Gupta, an IIT-Kanpur graduate, would teach how to make simple toys, and the other was M.A.D. — a more cooler version of an art class,” Neetu Yadav, a postgraduate student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, recalled.

Yadav added, “The show just reminds me of those times when I could play in mud for hours, mother would bring aam panna or nimbu paani during summer holidays, and I would just read a comic or watch these shows. When dad would come home from work, I’d display what I learnt through TV like (it was) a proud accomplishment.”


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