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Radioactive India celebrated on Ranchi stage
- Musical medley & folk dance mark 87 years of airwaves at Akashvani event

In the year 1927, on July 23, something magical happened to Mumbai.

Booming airwaves of what was then Indian Broadcasting Company were heard at the flick of a knob in the colonial megapolis as the Bombay radio station made its debut, tuning in a new era of sound for the country.

To mark these 87 years, All India Radio (AIR) or Akashvani in Ranchi staged a special programme at Mayuri Hall in CMPDI Complex on Wednesday evening.

It included a musical bouquet — Bengali Shyama Sangeet, Urdu ghazal and Odisha’s folk songs — as well as a folk dance as bonus.

Calcutta-based vocalist Krishna Majumdar, opening the programme in her powerful voice, rendered Shyama Sangeet and Narzrul Geeti.

Accompanied by Shyamal Kanjilal from Calcutta on the tabla and Ranchi’s Mukul Roy on the synthesiser and Shantanu Mukherjee on the Spanish guitar, Majumdar made timeless songs such as Ekbar birajo mon hridi-kamalasane and Uchatan mon ghare roy na resonate with nostalgia.

Sima Parveen of Indore sang ghazals, including those by Mirza Ghalib. Srijit Chatterjee on the tabla and Sanchali Nag on the harmonium, both Ranchi-based artistes, gave Parveen able support.

Utsab Charan Das of Cuttack led an 11-member troupe to perform the lively ghoda naach, an Odia folk dance. Dancers swayed to songs that described the playful banter between a couple, keeping the audience riveted.

“It was a balanced programme. We heard some beautiful compositions in Bengali and Urdu as well as Odia folk songs and dance. The dance was really eye-catching,” said Debabrata Choudhury, a member of the audience.

Though broadcasting in India began on July 23, 1927, from Mumbai, a radio station in Calcutta opened on August 26 the same year. The then Indian Broadcasting Company was authorised to operate only two radio stations according to an agreement with the government.

Right now, India’s public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati runs both AIR and Doordarshan.

Radio, which enjoyed incredible popularity till the 1970s as the country’s main source of home entertainment and information, was dethroned by TV in the 1980s.

As the skies opened to satellite television in the 1990s, countless TV channels seemed to push the airwaves towards oblivion. But privatisation — and a slew of FM channels — brought the radio alive to a new generation.

Only, earphones pushed bulky sets out of circulation.