Sunday, 6 April 2008

Listeners' Choice

Vividh Bharati, the commercial service of All India Radio, turned fifty this year.

As part of their Golden Jubilee celebrations, Vividh Bharati is now airing a very interesting programme where listeners write in, describing how a certain Hindi film song which they heard on radio at a certain critical moment in their lives, had a deep and lasting impact on them. Most are simple but poignant tales where a song reminds someone of an old friend, a parent, or spouse who is no more. For others, they bring back the carefree days of campus life. Some talk about how a particular song rescued them from the depths of depression or even, suicide. For some, a song provided the inspiration for a new beginning or a new outlook on life.

This may all sound a bit trite and self-serving to you if you have not heard this programme. Interspersed as it is with songs requested for by the listeners, the whole show is hosted by a man/woman team, who read aloud the letters with no small amount of empathy, adding their own comments or observations at the end. What amazes me is that these letters are not just from the Hindi heartland as you would normally expect, but from all over India, from places as far apart as Ambala, Guwahati and Vijayawada.

I listen to the programme whenever I can for two reasons: one, they mostly play melodious songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s which I love; two, some of these songs which I have been listening to since childhood, unleash in me by virtue of their association, a strong sense of nostalgia.

Recently, they played the Mukesh song “O mehbooba, O mehbooba” from the movie Sangam. Suddenly, a mental search engine starts working overtime and within a few seconds throws up myriad ‘pages’: Raj Kapoor movie; 1964 release; music by Shankar Jaikishan; you saw this movie for the first time in Alankar Cinema in Bangalore; you sang this song in a music competition in Class 5 with such disastrous results that you never dared to sing in public again...

I think you should tune in. Who knows, you may catch them reading my letter one of these days.
And that should definitely change your life forever! :-)


S said...

Uncle dearest! just delurking after all this time to tell you that I check your blog daily (but you already know that since you have stalking tools!)and that I love what you write!

Please don't stop! One of these days when i have caught up on sleep and have more energy than lowly paramecium, I will write too! Till then, you're my inspiration!

Amrita said...

Funnily enough, I was thinking about the golden oldies that I loved just before I came here - I guess Vividh Bharati scooped me!

Rada said...


Looking forward to resumption of your blog. Then hopefully, the family can approach Subhash Ghai to make a film on us, titled "Bloggers' Park"!


Thanks for the comment! Indiequill is on my blogroll now. Did you notice? :-)

Thiruvengadam said...

I must admit that you have revived those nostalgic moments. Vivid Bharati used to be my favourite companion since time immortal.... churning out those ear-soothing melodies ... day-in & day-out. Alas, I lost the touch after landing in Chennai. But after reading ur article I am rushing to retune my radio back to the golden era. Who can forget Amin Sayani with his sugar-soaked voice and a perfect diction inviting us all to the world of "filmy" songs.


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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.