The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Platinum edge for archives
- AIR Calcutta, 75, reaches out for literary, folk song stock-taking

The platinum anniversary party at Akashvani Bhavan is set to shift outdoors — to the remote corners of rural Bengal, and beyond.

The second oldest radio station in the country, which turned 75 on August 26, has undertaken twin projects to add value to its rich archive. And if the bouquet of special ‘replay’ programmes broadcast over the birthday week was a blast from the past, these new projects have been planned with an eye to the future.

AIR Calcutta intends to build up a complete stock of Bengal’s folk music repertoire. Says station director Asim Kumar Rej: “We have a responsibility towards preserving the cultural heritage of our land. These projects are an effort towards that end. There is a good stock of folk songs in our collection. We intend to build on that, so that the range is comprehensive.”

The 39-episode project has been divided into two parts. The more ambitious one will involve sending OB teams to villages in search of folk strains. “We will record the rarest forms of the genre, sung by the singers in their natural environs,” Rej points out. The state has been divided into three zones — north, south and central — with 13 episodes dedicated to each. Thus, to record bhatiyali, sari, jari, tarja and panchali, the teams will have to travel to the south Bengal districts, while the folk fare from central Bengal will include baul, bhadu, tusu, jhumur, gajan and alkap. Again, bhaoyaiya, palatiya, chotka, gambhira and bolan will be recorded in the villages of the north. The other section will involve indoor recordings of established and upcoming A-grade artistes.

The second project is a literary one. Thirteen authors have been identified across the country and prose works selected from their oeuvre will be adapted for dramatisation. “We want to give an all-India feel to our drama section. So far, we have worked with only plays of non-Bengali authors. This is the first time that we are going for adaptation of their prose works,” Rej points out. The list of the chosen authors comprises the brightest stars of India’s literary firmament — Rabindranath Tagore, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (Bengali), Amrita Pritam, Munshi Premchand (Hindi), Laxminath Bejbarua (Assamese), Guddapati Venkatachalam (Telugu), U.R. Ananthamurthy (Kannada), Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi (Oriya), Vaikkom Mohammed Basheer (Malayalam), Pannalal Patel (Gujarati) and Rajendra Singh Bedi (Punjabi).

The Prasar Bharati directorate has given the nod and work will start by the month-end.

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