Exhibiting love for Radio and Vividh Bharati in age of amazing gizmos may make me appear a strange creature in the eyes of readers but that’s a reality and I am not at all ashamed in disclosing my eternal love for them. Why should I hide my feelings for them when they have been my side in good and bad times with right sort of vibes ? At least, they shared my feelings in a genuine way. It’s time to share some memories associated with both of them and so I take a trip down memory lane.
The occasion is quite fitting one as we are celebrating the birth anniversary of Vividh Bharati, which came in existence on October 3, 1957. It would be interesting to state that Vividh Bharati is brainchild of Pt. Narendra Sharma, who conceived it to curb the growing popularity of Radio Ceylon. Anyway, it soon turned out to be one of the most wonderful sarkari (government) institution, which struck an intimate chord with masses. We all know that masses remain at a safe distance from anything labeled sarkari be it sarkari hospital or sarkari school!!
I was raised in a family of radio lovers, which has developed a unique samskara (tendency) of spending few qualitative hours in presence of radio. My maternal grandfather was very serious listener of Akashvani ( All India Radio) News. In fact, he was such a serious listener that there was a spare radio set apart from the one which he carried with him all the time only to ensure that news item does not get disrupted in case the radio stopped functioning. Above all, he had also a cute, huge as well, Philips Valve Radio set , which was the cynosure of all the eyes. This set in those times was a prize possession. We naughty kids made this elegant set attain a colourful identity by listening latest movie songs secretly in Nanaji’s absence!! After all, the inventors of radio did not introduce radio only for the sake of listening news!! That’s the way I came in touch with radio in early 80s.
I still remember stopping at every shop, playing the cricket commentary be it paanwalah’s shop or garage owner’s shop, after returning to home from the school. I don’t think that pleasure I gained imagining Marshal’s bouncers and Kapil Dev sixers after listening the stylish descriptions of it in the radio commentary would ever be gained again. Listen the dull and pathetic present age Hindi or English commentary on Doordarshan to realize that we are living in Kaliyuga !! You will feel start feeling about getting moksha( liberation ) as early as possible!! Anyway, we all today have TV sets but there was a time when T V set was not that common sight and in those times it was mother of all the questions for any radio listener: ” Score kya hua hai ?” ( what’s the score? ).
In my childhood, after finishing the homework I spent my most of the time before the radio which was placed on my study table. It was small elegant red coloured Murphy radio set. It was my darling and soulmate in those days. Anyone daring to move near it in my absence was brutally punished by me when news of trespassing was informed to me later, usually by a person denied an opportunity by the trespasser to share the pleasure of listening the radio. By the way, did I tell you all that radio, watch and bicycle were the prominent dowry items in yesteryear marriages. Many of the silver hairs turn nostalgic when asked about their bicycle!!
How can I forget the Sanskrit news, which I listened each morning even though it was beyond my comprehension? Samprati vaartaaha shruyantam… ” (You are listening to the news.). Just before penning this article I came to read about Baldeva Nand Sagar- the eminent Sanskrit news reader. This real gentleman has done a lot to promote the cause of Sanskrit in other parts of the globe. How can I forget the impressive voice of Devakinandan Pandey delivering Hindi news with such a perfection? I still remember how the radio did the time check at regular intervals with a mind blowing tring tring beat. It was an usual habit to set the time in our watches once the radio confirmed the hours, minutes and seconds !!
Those were the days when programmes like Chitraloka, Manchahe Geet, Sangit Sarita, Chaaya Geet, Jayamala, Hava Mahal and Binaca Geet Mala presented by Ameen Sayani were the hot favourites. They were always in the minds of listeners and it was no less than a result of bad karma to miss anyone of these programmes. These programmes in their newer versions are still part and parcel of my life. They help me mitigate the sorrows of life and being a loner I find myself very close to these programmes. I think going by the letters of listeners in “Patravali”, I can easily intercept this great truth that it’s not only me but there are many listeners who have established a deep intimate bond with Vividh Bharati or radio to rise above the ironies of life.
I am not against rise of newer modes of entertainment nor I am against the introduction of new radio channels but I still feel gone are the days when radio programmes evoked sheer joy. May be the life in those times was not as complicated as it has now become. May be the music in those days was not incoherent pieces of computer generated beats!! May be the radio broadcasters in those days had better knowledge of Hindi language !! They had better capability to strike a bond with listeners as these broadcasters remained tuned to the happenings of ordinary life in a conscious way.
The radio broadcasters of present age like Kamal Sharma, Nimmi Mishra, Mamta Singh, Yunus Khan, Ashok Sonavade, Amarkantji, and Rajendra Tripathi, to name a few, have set high standards in an age when it’s tough to remain above commercial interests or , for that matter, remain above populist measures. Vividh Bharati has made lots of changes not to lose its relevance. It’s still “Desh Ki Surili Dhadkan” (Melodious beat of the nation). However, I must say that commercial interests are fast overtaking the interests of listeners. There are unwanted commercials in the middle of the song and when the commercials end the song has given way to another song!! Even the Havamahal is not able to live up to expectations with fresh jhalkis (radio drama). However, the programmes like Ujaale Unki Yadon Ke , Vishesh Jayamala and etc. are coming up with interesting episodes related with legendary movie personalities.
I must say that Vividh Bharati is instrumental in refining my taste related with music. Where else can you listen Bhimsen Joshi, Manna Dey, Shobha Gurtu, Parveen Sultana, Chhaya Ganguli and Talat Mahmood so frequently other than on Vividh Bharati ? It’s still a best place not only to listen “Bhoole Bisre Geet” (rare forgotten songs) but also to take note of forgotten words of Hindi. It’s still promoting good Hindi in a silent way. That’s the reason why I have kept my intimate bond with radio in a good shape. It’s my first love. Though I now own newer version of Philips after my previous Murphy Two-in-One became virtually irreparable, the love never changed its intensity. Love for radio and Vividh Bharati would remain the same. After all, the love for beloved keeps increasing with each passing day. Long live Vividh Bharati and radio.