Not many will forget listening to radio dramas on All India Radio. For many, it is a vivid memory from childhood. The sheer brilliance of the art form, artists and the making, have given radio dramas by AIR a special place in the hearts of many. And if you wish to relive the experience, here's your chance!
Ever since the lockdown started, the regional divisions of AIR have been making their most popular radio dramas available online. In Kerala, All India Radio’s Thiruvananthapuram division has made available 13 of its iconic Malayalam radio dramas available through its YouTube page.
From the Shakespearean classic Othello to the highly acclaimed Malayalam novel Oru Sankeerthanam Pole by Perumbadavam Sreedharan, the radio dramas made available to the public are the best ones produced by AIR so far.
“It is for the first time that we are making such special AIR programmes available on a public platform like YouTube where anyone can, at any time, listen to them. When the lockdown started, our Chief Executive Officer gave directions to upload the iconic radio dramas online for people. So far, we have uploaded 13 such plays which express the heart and soul of All India Radio. In the coming days, as per the direction, we will be uploading more,” programme executive S Narayanan Namboodiri told TNM.
Many prominent actors of Malayalam cinema have also been part of these radio dramas which were recorded over several years.
One of the radio dramas, Ithilkanni, recorded in the 1960s, has leading Malayalam actors of the time like Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Miss Kumar, Adoor Bhasi and so on, lending their voices.
In the radio drama Jeevanulla Prathimakal, actors like Mohanlal, Jagadish, and dubbing artists like Bhagyalakshmi, have participated. The story is about a nomadic tribe and their wanderings. It is a symbolic representation of the love for nature, states the description of the play.
Narayanan also adds that each radio drama uploaded on the YouTube page has its significance.
“The radio drama Pazhassi Raja - on the life of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of the Kottayam royal dynasty who fought against the British - has been made by K Padmanabhan Nair, a veteran broadcaster who has a prominent place in the history of AIR,” says Narayanan.
The playwright of another radio drama Valarthu Malsyangal, which is about a man who tries to be himself but is tagged as ‘abnormal’ by the society, is none other than P Padmarajan, the iconic Malayalam filmmaker and story writer. Incidentally, Padmarajan started his career as an announcer in AIR before becoming a full-time filmmaker.
Many who have been spending days confined to their homes during the lockdown, have received this initiative of AIR's with open arms.
“I stumbled upon the YouTube page of All India Radio Thiruvananthapuram recently during the lockdown and discovered the radio dramas. I have been an ardent listener ever since. I didn't have a chance to tune in to the live programmes on the radio earlier. Now with these being uploaded on YouTube, I can tune in any time and listen,” says Subin, a businessman from Alappuzha.
The other famous radio dramas which have been uploaded on AIR Thiruvananthapuram’s YouTube page are: Omanathinkal, on the life of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma who was the king of Travancore and a noted musician; Upayogasoonyamakunna Sabdarekhakal, on the life and work of an officer of All India Radio; Chilappathikaram, a radio adaptation of the Tamil epic Chilappathikaram; Yudhavum Samadhanavum, on the Russian novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.