Radio Dramas Make a Comeback in a New Avatar
If Trevor Horn of The Buggles, who worded the famous ‘video killed the radio star’ song, could meet Anooradha and her team of RJs from 92.7 Big FM, he would surely give them a pat on the back for finding new ways to prove him wrong. For starters, the radio drama that they are airing currently is a step in a direction that Horn would have approved. A first in Chennai (and perhaps in the country as well), for that matter, they are serialising a 24 episode audio drama based on Indra Soundar Rajan’s popular novel Shivam. It deals with spiritual mystery in a conservative village. The author’s other works have already been turned into soap operas like Marma Desam and its sequel, which were well received by the TV audience.
“Our initiative is a combined result of an attempt to tap the serial watching viewership that television enjoys, and to make the younger generation interested in reading books again,” explains Anooradha, who has simplified the novel for the listeners and made it more radio-friendly. The process wasn’t easy, of course, and involved three long months of studying their listener’s psychology and coming up with the right sounds. The RJs from Big FM, like Girish, who hosts the breakfast show, and Lavanya of the Solla Marandha Kadhai fame have lent their voices as the leads in this radio drama, with other RJs like Ranjit and Mridhula playing other key roles.
Drawing parallels between radio and books, she adds, “Unlike television where the video is at your face, both books and radio have the quality to leave something to be visualised and inspires us to use our imagination.”
Indra Soundar Rajan is quite enthusiastic about the idea. He points out that the radio drama has opened a new door to ensure that his book reaches out to more people. “Radio has a more personal approach. People tune in to radio in their cars on their way home from work, housewives play it in the kitchen and youngsters can tune in through their mobile phones as well,” he adds.
While one might call the radio drama a not-so-original approach to compete with the TV ratings, since programs like Shurthi Natak have existed for a long time, this glossed-up and the dramatised attempt to spread the scope of today’s FM radio is sure to create some airwaves in the city.