When a man named Ajit Bhattacharya retired as duty officer from All India Radio in Kolkata a few years ago, he had a tough time adjusting to his new life as nobody recognised him at his workplace of decades. Another AIR staffer, Swapnomay Chakraborty, wrote a short story about Bhattacharya’s struggle that was converted into a 29-minute radio play for AIR’s audience, Batil Record of AIR Kolkata. On Friday, the story won the award for the best radio play on AIR for 2014.
Batil Record was one of more than 65 awards given at the Akashvani Annual Award ceremony for the years 2014 and 2015 by Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu. The awarded shows were broadcast in Bengali, Malayalam, Punjabi, Kannada, Odia, Urdu, Telugu, Konkani, Manipuri, Tamil, Haryanvi and English, Hindi. The categories ranged from radio play to musical production to science programme to family welfare, to count a few.
One awardee, M V Sasi Kumar, spoke of the intimate role AIR played in the lives of so many Indians. He spoke of a letter from a woman called Mathu, who was of the Cholanayaka tribe in Wayanad district. Her letter said that without any electricity in Mathu’s village, the radio was the only medium of entertainment for her and her neighbours, and so she wanted to request some songs. Kumar was intrigued and he set out along with his team to meet Mathu and the villagers and recorded their life to do a piece.
Kumar said AIR got many calls and requests like Mathu’s, and they often go and meet their listeners. “These people,” he said, from villages and cities, “are all connected through AIR”. The show that was produced from his trip to meet Mathu won his team the most innovative programme award for the year 2015.
The best science programme for 2015 was about the dwindling number of vultures in and around Bhopal. The 20-minute broadcast was produced by Sachin Bhagwat of AIR, Bhopal. It was called Geedh Garh, named after a village near Bhopal from where the vultures are vanishing. Bhagwat told The Indian Express that as a former science student and a Bhopal resident he was aware that vultures were becoming extinct in the area.