Tuning again in time – My Radio, My Life


A needle spinning between cities, movie pictures, a wire garland round a photograph of a beloved inventor— and between all of the frames dripping with nostalgia, the radio, an invention that has joined the vintage pile together with fashionable anachronisms like cassettes and VCR tapes.

The radio is the central hero of the documentary ‘My Radio, My Life’, from Timecap documentaries directed by Makarand Waikar and Bidit Roy, which acquired its first screening for invitees on the Nationwide Movie Archives of India on February 13, 2024, a thematically apt presentation for UNESCO’s World Radio Day.

The movie, which runs for an hour and eight minutes, is a throwback to a golden age of radio the place it was the one type of leisure — a center class hero in center class properties. The theme appears sadly apt as India grieves one its most recognisable voices on radio, Ameen Sayani, the much beloved host of Binaca Geetmala, who handed away on February 21, 2024, aged 91.

Nostalgia and coronary heart are at centre of individuals’s reminiscences with the radio. The analysis workforce behind the documentary, headed by Simantinee Bhagwat, sought to faucet into this vein, pulling collectively a set of documentary topics with three core components— ardour, emotion and nostalgia, in search of not a technical or historic method, however a people-first one.

This method befits the radio, a mild presence in many individuals’s day by day lives. As codirector and producer Makarand Waikar says throughout the launch “radio doesn’t intrude in your life…nobody goes to the physician saying they’re hooked on radio.”

Co-director Bidit Roy calls the documentary an attention-grabbing approach to have a look at the connection between radio and other people. His personal method is nostalgic, and he speaks fondly of how his paternal grandfather was so hooked up to his little transistor radio, he used to throw tantrums if its batteries radio ran out.

The movie has notched finest documentary awards or nominations at 80 festivals in 35 international locations, however was screened final week for the primary time for public invitees, and is but to be launched on-line.

Man on the moon

The documentary begins its meandering path down reminiscence lane with a quote from author Peggy Noonan— “TV offers everybody a picture however radio offers delivery to one million photographs in one million brains.”

The primary picture we’re invited to conjure up by the documentary is an thrilling one; it opens with Dr. V Nallathambi, and he is a superb place to begin with, combining twin nostalgias for man’s first touchdown on the moon and the radio. Dr. Nallathambi is the person who introduced information of the 1969 Apollo 11 touchdown on the moon to the Tamil world, as a part of the Voice of America Tamil Service

Initially a Tamil trainer, his radio journey began off at as an announcer at AIR Trichy. Sooner or later, he acquired a name from the American embassy via his director to affix the Voice of America service. He joined the service in March, and shares that there was a construct up of six months of programming associated to the area mission, earlier than the rocket touched down in July that yr. In an interview with The Hindu, he says one of many causes he was chosen was the dwell working radio commentary he had achieved of C.N Annadurai’s loss of life in Madras. He additionally thanks the three different colleagues who have been a part of the Voice of America Tamil service, who let him the chance as a younger 30 yr outdated man.

Each within the interview and the launch, Dr. Nallathambi remembers translating phrase for phrase that historic line— a small step for man, an enormous leap for mankind, into Tamil. Translating different components was not as simple, he says— who knew the best way to clarify geosynchronous orbits, for instance, in French, German or Tamil.

A nostalgic quest

The person who gives the throughline for the whole documentary is Vijay Deodhar, a retired librarian who labored on the Nationwide Chemical Labaratory in Pune. He’s engaged in a extra modest, present-day pursuit— the fixing of the 1964 Bush SW/AM radio that he purchased for the princely sum of Rs. 500 along with his first wage. It stopped working in 2008, and his common restore man handed away, so the radio has lived on the loft until it’s introduced down and dusted off, and Mr. Deodhar units out on a journey via fanatic teams on Fb—just like the Classic Radio Society of India— a newspaper advert and outdated Pune metropolis to discover a approach to carry it again to life.

A nonetheless from the documentary My Radio, My Life

In dialog with The Hindu, he shares that discovering a restore man in Pune was laborious, noting that he obtained responses from locations like Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Hyderabad. There have been additionally many extra fascinated by shopping for the radio than repairing it, he says.

Interwoven along with his story are that of different characters— some extra recognisable than others. Vividh Bharati aficionados won’t want a subtitle to position the 2 announcers who present up on the screen- Yunus Khan and Mamta Singh, the couple for whom radio has been part of life since their school days- however as a occupation.

Even in case you have no idea Yunus Khan, the resonant timber of his voice offers him away early on as an announcer for Vividh Bharati, Mumbai. On the launch occasion, he weaves a spell along with his narration of how he obtained into the world of radio, beginning as a teenage boy collaborating in a youth programme on the native station in Bhopal.

In the meantime, again within the documentary, Mamta Singh, the host or ‘Radio Sakhi’ of the favored programme Sakhi Saheli, speaks about being fascinated with the voice coming from the Murphy Radio which occupied an vintage wood desk in a particular room in her childhood residence, clad in a canopy sewn by her mom

Chatting with The Hindu, Mrs. Singh, says she discovered her voice via radio. And the connection she discovered went each methods— listeners wrote in to ask questions on not with the ability to research additional, as their mother and father didn’t wish to educate women, or they wrote in about love entanglements. And the pleasant soothing voice on the radio supplied recommendation— encouraging schooling, encouraging the postponement of affection until careers had blossomed.

Then, in a lovely suggestions loop, the listeners wrote again, thanking her— Mrs. Singh shares that there have been at instances stacks of letters filling up the room,

It’s HAM Radio Hour

The documentary covers all its bases; together with the professionals, there are the amateurs, and the quasi-amateurs. We’re launched to Bharat Prasad, a Radio HAM from Hyderabad, who says that her solely passion is HAM Radio. Her HAM radio arrange goes past the receiver acquainted to most of the people— she additionally has a transmitter, antenna and energy provide as properly.

A radio transmission dish aloft her terrace in Hyderabad, V2URBI — Mrs. Prasad’s name title— has established contact in international locations over the world; within the documentary, she says she makes 100 contacts in a day. We see her connecting with somebody in Malta and a scholar, Mukesh, in Delhi— she is a HAM coach as properly.

Mrs. Prasad has additionally gone on expeditions, and in a single such expedition in 2004 to the Andaman Nicobar Islands, her HAM radio proved of important significance. On December 26, 2004, when establishing contact with Indonesia and Thailand, she felt tremors in her room, and noticed the ocean change color from “blue to inexperienced to black.” This was the Indian Ocean tsunami. Within the early days put up the tsunami, when there was no approach to talk besides HAM radio, even officers communicated by way of her set.

A brand new lease of life

The documentary traverses throughout the nation, and throughout pursuits. and certainly one of its central figures is Uday Kalbhurgi, a radio restorer in Bangalore

Mr. Kalbhurgi has transformed a part of his Bangalore residence into a brief wave radio museum. Usually referred to as ‘Radio Man’, Mr. Kalbhurgi has restored greater than 185 classic radios, a far cry from his college days the place he stood fascinated in entrance of a radio restore store in Nipani for three-four hours a day. He has tales for a lot of of his radios- whether or not it’s an outdated man remembering his dearly liked spouse or a bomber radio he purchased off a person on the road.

A still from the documentary My Radio, My Life

A nonetheless from the documentary My Radio, My Life

Amongst his assortment we spot a 1963 Grundig Radio, a Chevrolet automobile radio, a secret Congress radio from World Warfare 2, and an R1155 Marconi radio from a bomber, once more from the World conflict 2 period. One other intriguing contraption on his partitions is a little bit machine that locations the All India Radio signature tone composed by Walter Kauffman— on loop in case you don’t cease it.

Within the documentary, we’re additionally transported from time-to-time, nearly with a jolt, to extra fashionable setting, the spotless radio studio room for college kids on the Janaki Devi Public Faculty in Mumbai. Right here, enthusiastic trainer Pradnya Kelkar, accompanied by skilled radio mentor Shantanu Joshi, is making an attempt to create a radio programme with a number of youngsters.

Not solely do the kids provide a stark distinction to the light nostalgia of people who find themselves recounting tales of yore, the programme they’re recording can be future-themed— what life be like in 2122. Including to the nostalgia, one of many youngsters describes the radio onscreen very like one may describe an object within the museum — a field with strains over it, she says, with a socket and an oblong factor the place you see channel numbers. One other boy is extra in contact with the radio— his mother and father and grandparents hearken to it whereas working, he says, incorporating the rhythm of the radio into their workflow. 

Cast and crew of the documentary My Radio, My Life at a screening held at National Film Archives of India on February 13, 2024.

Forged and crew of the documentary My Radio, My Life at a screening held at Nationwide Movie Archives of India on February 13, 2024.

Shantanu Joshi shared throughout the screening of the documentary that he tried to make the radio ‘a hero’ for the youngsters, promoting the expertise of speaking on the radio. He has achieved this not only for college students in faculties— Mr. Joshi has additionally arrange a radio station in jail and a juvenile residence in Pune.

Because the credit roll we see three individuals with no skilled hyperlink to the radio, whose lives have been touched by it— Mr. Waikar’s associates from days of youth. Sunil Shastri speaks of maybe a common expertise for cricket-enthused GenXers— listening to cricket on the radio. He did it secretly although, with a wire connecting a pocket transistor radio to his ear throughout college lessons, with him furtively signalling runs to classmates when the trainer was not wanting. Harimohan Pillai speaks of Amin Sayani and his programme Binaca Geet Mala on Radio Ceylon, which ranked the highest songs of the week. So did his household, and evaluating these rankings made for a pleasant Saturday move time. Mr. Pillai additionally met and gave Mr. Sayani a sketch of him — a crowning second in a radio fanatic’s life. Then there’s Arunabha Sen from Kolkata, who recounts the riveting expertise of attending a recording for a Bournvita radio quiz competitors on the HMV studios in Dum Dum. .  

The documentary ends with a sense of nice nostalgia— a crossword, youngsters taking part in cricket, and the individuals remembering their very own glory days with the radio. In between, watercolours by Yogesh Lokhande envision scenes from the story as they’re described.

Watching the documentary proves that it’s not simply nostalgic for an earlier era. It is usually nostalgic for me, reminding me of sleepy afternoons crouched down in entrance of the radio, scanning for a station that might give me the keenness to complete my homework.

And as I drive residence after watching the documentary, I swap off my Spotify playlist and activate my radio as an alternative.

Extra particulars about ‘My radio, My Life’ may be discovered at https://myradiomylife.com/. The documentary will probably be launched shortly on-line.

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