Me Thinks

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Radio Memories

For years the devotional songs on the radio was my alarm clock in the morning. My mother always switched the radio on first thing in the morning. I don't know if it was Madras A or Vivitha Bharti. My mother still insists the program in the radio always told her the time and made her stay organized during busy mornings of the week.
7:30 AM - Sangeet Sarita. This program was about "Shastriya Sangeet". For the longest time, I didn't know what the term meant and I always thought "raag yaman" sounded funny. Imagine a raagam named yaman, I thought. Just when this pogram began, Appa used to leave for work.
7:40 AM - Rangavali. They played nice old hindi songs. I guess that kind of programmed our system to listen to old hindi melodies to day.
8:00 AM - Bhakti paadalgal. Nagoor Hanifa songs were very good. We listened to assorted hindu, christian and muslim religious songs then for 10 minutes. When the second song played, my mother left for work. It was always 8:10. 5 minutes of commericials/ads and then our favourite program started.
8:15 AM - Ungal viruppam. I have a feeling no program has ever had a following as big as this one had in Madras. Not even today's radio mirchi.

A brief introduction to Ungal Viruppam wouldn't be out of place now. Readers write to the station asking for a specific song. If many readers ask for a particular song, they play the song. Just before playing, the announcer reads a big list of names - the names of the people who had requested that song. There were no e-mails and even phones were rare then. So interested parties buy a postcard, write a request and mail it. My brother and I always paid close attention to that name list. The name "ICF Aasai Thambi" was the oft-repeated one. "Wow!" we always exclaimed, "He must be the most popular guy in the city. His name is on every song". We were kids then. I wonder where Aasai thambi is now!

Dear ICF Aasai Thambi,

I don't know if the program "Ungal Viruppam" is still alive. But I sincerely hope you are. You probably moved out of ICF colony and bought a house in Anna Nagar or Perambur or Avadi. Thats because I can't imagine you living anywhere outside Chennai. Was writing requests to the station your full-time job then? If not, I salute your enthusiasm. I am sure you are net savvy now. Do you mail all your friends, acquaitances with such alacrity? Sometimes I wish you had a blog. And maybe you'd make a post on the number of songs you had requested, the number played and such statistics for followers like my brother and me. When I come across sites such as this where you request a song and they'd play it for you, I often think of you.

I digressed. Radio was always blaring in the mornings in every flat in the colony we lived in. Wonder if people even listen to anything other than FM radio these days. I listen to talk radio while driving. And everytime I switch on the radio, the memories of the AM radio mornings "flash upon that inward eye, which is a bliss of solitude".


Blogger Oracle said...

Made me feel nostalgic abt an old post of mine:
"Oflate,even nostalgia isnt what it used to be" :)

After that commercial break here comes the real comment:
Amma used to be upset, I sang Nagoor Hanifa's song more often than Seergazhi's!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Vee Cee said...

during the late 70's/early 80's 'villivakkam kubendran' used to be the king. i suppose he passed on the mantle to 'ICF aasai thambi'.

10:08 AM  
Blogger I said...

we shd really coauthor an 80-ish post.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Ajay said...

'indru oru thagaval' was the time i ate my breakfast before rushing to school..i too made the radio my clock..
and yes, the radio was great...such, such were the joys...

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Bubby said...

Superb post, deepz.Happy Engagement anniversary deepz ;-)

Dont remember ICF Aasai thambi. I suppose he is the equivalent of Ayanpuram Sathyanarayana / Revathi priyan, Erode on print.

Oracle : Lol ! Whenever I listen to "Parrtha mudhal naaleee.. " these days from Vettaiyadu, it reminds of me of my school days - 5 am when Amma used to switch on the radio and it goes "Yessu piradhareeee.... mannill yaesu pirandaree.. "[same tune as paartha] and she would go "kaarthalerndu inda paatu.." and frantically change the channel and listen to rather try and listen to Ceylon, trichy and the likes..

8:19 PM  
Blogger Me said...

i was a big fan of dramas on radio...there used be some naradhar drama at 8:00-8:30PM...another drama with a character called ammanji during mornings though not everyday...

..if you had asked me to tell a name.. i wouldn't have remembered any...but after you wrote ICF aasai thambi..the name sounds very familiar ...hmmm

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Bubby said...

Aaahaa.. radio memories.. a cousin of mine went mad everytime she heard the first line of the song "Nooraandu kaalam vaazhga .." (equivalent of "Pirandaa naal indru pirandaa naal" song on ceylon?) which was played everyday on Priya vision-in PriyamaaNA neram with that vanderful vaais of Priya Kishore who is busy selling appalams ,oorugais and vaathals these days in Mylapore (info courtesy : some ladies magazine in tamizh)

Also deepz, I would often visualize M.A.Jahan aara begum of Vividh bharathi as Sridevi of Sigappu rojakkal with round eyes, nalla smile, redd lipshtick and poo poatta podavai. Wonder if she is still with VB.. but I miss Priya Kishore ..vaattaa vaais I say!

1:46 AM  
Blogger Mahadevan said...

Thanks for taking us back to All India Radio days. Binaka Geet Mala in Radio Ceylon at sharp 8 p.m. was the most eagerly looked for programme. Yet to hear a voice as mellifluous as that of Amin Sayani. Similarly, A.M.Raja's Pattu Padhava, Parandhu Chellava or Thanimayile Inbam Kanamudiyuma would send me into raptures. If I remember right, it was Rdio Ceylon's 'Then Kinnam' programme.

Rajkapoor-Mukesh, MGR-TMS, Gemini Ganesan-AM Raja - what a classic combination they were !

8:14 AM  
Blogger Me too said...

Aaha! Veetukku veedu radio potti routine!! I am continuing the 'neyar viruppam' tradition even here! Now you know where I get my inspiration for my FMs!

11:44 AM  
Blogger APAM NAPAT said...

the scott and chasey show?

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's ICF Aasai Thambi for you, me & my sibling had Mary Magdelene. Without fail she would be requesting songs week in week out on Radio 6. We used to wonder the same; whether song requesting was her sole occupation.

3:15 AM  
Anonymous கதம்ப மாலை said...

My favorite program was the 'Suriya Gandhi' at 12.00 noon on Sundays on Trichy, Coimbatore and Tiruneveli stations.
The Neyar Viruppam on the above stations was at 8:20 after the english and hindi news.
Thanks Deepa for reviving those memories.
@oracle - Hanifa's voice had a resounding quality, loved his songs.
@bubby - I remember the Yesu pirandhare song. Another program I remember was on Ceylon - Yesu azhaikkiraar - it continues to this day, now on Vijay TV.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Deepa said...

Deeps, You have truly made me nostalgic. The program I remember vividly is tuning into Ameen Sayani's Binaca geetmala at nights... and his amazing voice! I don't think anyone can match his voice - not even Amitabh. During vacations, We used to wait for our dad to leave for work & then turn on the radio at 8:45am exactly :)

9:24 AM  
Blogger cowey said...

'vivid' barathi

I used to listen to the new movie snapshots equivalent to current day trailers in vivithabarathi...

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Vijay said...

:) ahghhh! the good old days. Thanks for the memory trip Deepa. Brought back so many incidents back!

1:37 PM  
Blogger APAM NAPAT said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:26 PM  
Blogger APAM NAPAT said...

I used to enjoy Indru oru thagaval and the movie trailers in the night. Mottai maadila paai virichi paduthundu transister la paatu kekara naatkal ini thirumbi varumaa.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indha post padichutu Radio kooda yenaku TV memories um nyabam varadhu.Appo yellam DD dhaan ore channel kuripita time varaikum Hindi program then it switch back to regional language programs.friday aachuna chitrahaar,ooliyum ooliyum(tanglish la chinna li periya li iruka???).sunday 4 maniku tamizh padam.Baba segal's super hit mukabla.Thatha madila ukkarndhu partha Sagar's ramayan,chopra's mahabharat.sunday morning S.VE.Sekar's vanna koolangal.Short animation films such as Ek anek,Do not spread rumors. Appuram indha mega serial ku yellam mother aana Junoon.Dekh bhai dekh,Shrimaan shrimathi,nukkad,buniyad,Malgudi days,surabhi,DD la tamil drama,evening vayalum vazhvum ippadi sollinde pogalaam.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Munimma said...

nyabagam varuthey thaan.
The radio was our clock. I don't recall the exact programs, but I had to be out of the shower at 7:25 and brushing my hair for a certain show and gulping down my breakfast and leaving before the 7:50 program (2 songs?) started. My mom had to leave by vividh barathiyin neyar/ungal viruppam.

Then, there was a tough fight with sleep to listen to the movie reviews/previews.

The afternoons were spent with Madras a/b stations listening to hindi songs and then regional songs and then english songs.

3:59 PM  
Blogger vishy said...

I used to listen to indru oru thagaval every day. The worst part was I had to ctach the bus for school at the same time. So pathi naal bus-stand la Teas kadai la ketpen.

ANother interesting program was Cibaka Geetamalai by Abaswaram Raamji (what is he doing now??). Also there used to be a program on sunday afternoons by Dr.Lion Parthasarathy on Jodhidam.

I still remember listing to this song "Paarthen Siriten" sung by PBS every time in the early hours.. when I used to go play cricket in the school. Those day would never be bk.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Deepa said...

I thought tat post of ours was very funny. yeah, is Nagoor hanifa alive now?
"Villivakkam kubendran"?! Never heard of him. mabe you are right. He was probably te guru.
I, enna sudden a you are all "for" teamwork?
Indru ou thagaval was very good. I was a big fan of Thenkacchi.
Thank ou bubby. I know of your love for Piriyamana neram voice.
Me, do you remember the 1 hour drama on sunday afternoons?
Mahadevan Sir, Cibaca geetmala was more popular on radio than TV I think. I used to love that program. How come ou missed Rajesh Khanna- Kishore combo?
MT, inspiration is often used interchangably for suruttufying.;-)

11:28 AM  
Blogger Deepa said...

Rajesh, no NPR sometimes and Conservative talk radio.
Really? Mary Magdalene? Never heard.
Kadamba Malai, welcome. Did tat Vija TV program originate on radio? Interesting...
Deepa, yes Ameen Sayani had no equal.
Cowe, sometimes the even played movies on radio. I dont remember which station though. Isnt it funny that there was an audience for a movie on radio?
Vijay, you are most welcome.:-)
Rajesh, reminds me of Sorgame endraalum song. That song talks about how one could spit or pee or whatever on the road in S'pore. Like that was a vice! remember that song?
Anon, thanks a ton for that link. I love that rumour program. Will have to send that to my brother. Didnt Junoon change the way people spoke tamil in M'ras?:-)
Munimma, I read comments reminiscing such memories...thats when I truly feel nostalgic.
Vishy, the last I heard (knew)Abaswaram Ramji ran a troop comprising of kids and the sang in big functions, weddings etc.

2:06 PM  
Blogger I said...

this rajesh khanna has to be most overrated person ever. Even more than Tendulkar. avana edhukku ippo izhukara?

4:04 PM  
Anonymous கதம்ப மாலை said...

The Jesus Calls program on Vijai TV originated as Yesu Azhaikiraar program on Radio Ceylon.

[The Visitor] has been doing fine. :)

You should read other posts of GB - particularly, BG speaks.

And please, please comment, on the respective posts also, will you??

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Bubby said...

veecee.. yes, I remember Villivakkam Kubendran.. Deepz nee enna sollavara? naanga 80s, nee 90s naa?
naanga 80s naa nee 60s maa! vayasai maraikkadha

12:19 PM  
Blogger Deepa said...

kadamba Maalai, is this your new "avatharam"?;-)
Bubby, looks like Villivakkam Kubendran is more famous. Sorry for the ignorance. (public a maanattha vaangadha)

5:20 PM  
Blogger The Visitor said...

Yes, Latha invited me there - seeing the wonderful bloghopper (vetti) that I am ;)

7:50 AM  
Anonymous deeBlogger said...

My favouite Ungal Viruppam song requester was "Kasimedu Bhasker". I actually did a google search on him recently, but in vain :(. Hope he lives happily wherever he is. Thank you, Mr. Kasimede Bhasker for requesting those old old songs every day.

Thanks for "Rangavali". Had forgotten that name since long.

Very nice post, Deepa - especially the touching letter to ICF Asai Thambi.

1:29 PM  
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6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Deepa, Thank you very much for the good old memories. Do you remember the music that was played before the 8:15 am time was announced? I was searching for that music and stumbled across your blog. Good work :)

1:09 PM  
Blogger maghs said...

Dear Ungal Viruppam Listeners,

Can anyone pl. let me know the details of the title music of "Ungal Viruppam" broad cast by Vividh Bharathi Chennai in those days. An excellent piece of music. Probably an arabic instrumental music.

Pl. help me in getting this music.

I have posted my question in Yahoo and other forums, but no result.

I had even sent number of mails to AIR Chennai - No revert.

Thanks in advance

Suresh Balakrishnan

9:51 AM  
Blogger maghs said...

Dear Readers,

This Blog has taken me back to my Child days.... Nostalgic.

Let me contribute my experience with Vividha Bharathi - All India Radio Chennai.

My remembrance starts with "Ungal Viruppam" in the morning. I remember a song called "Malargalin Raja" in 1970's (doe not remember the singers).

One more popular repeated requester for Ungal Viruppam songs was "Chinnaselam Maulana". He would request almost all the songs. Does anyone remember this name??

I have memories of a program called "Kanmani Poonga" for toddlers on every Saturdays. Another program "Siruvar Solai" for Children on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm where a character named "Radio Anna" used to feature (by Kooththabhiran)who will conduct the show. I remember one such program in which famous music conductor MB Srinivas enacted a forest ambiance with musical instruments. The show also will feature a session on riddles.

Daily at night 9 pm there used to feature a drama (in parts) that too just for 15 minutes. I remember listening to it with a "Valve" (HMV) radio which will take nearly 5 minutes to heat up and giving out sound. Mondays used to be a boring day as there will not be drama and instead there will be a program called "Neyar Kadidham" (nothing but reading the letters of the listeners). Never had i remembered a day a letter criticizing a program was read. May be the programs were so good those days or do AIR pick up only letters which praised them??

The days have gone past when we used to sleep immediately after listening to the drama by which our clock will be at 9.30 pm. (not even evening for boys of the current generations).


Please share your views on the above.

Suresh Balakrishnan

12:28 PM  
Blogger gokul krishnan said...

just saw this page and felt very happy for the all the posts and their remineiences. even I have the same we seldom look clock for the time only each programmes title music gives me the exact time and one such music is the title music of the programme ungal viruppam. still I love to hear the old muusic its as fresh as morning dew. in my days the requesters ask for beautiful songs and I cherish listening to those songs. everyday requesters are adayalampettu aasirvatham, icf colony Kannan. as soons as the ungal viruppam ends at 9.15pm a drama for 15 minutes upto 9.30 pm and thereafter trailers of cinema. being a kamalahasan fan I will listen daily the film trailer "Enakkul Oruvan". at 10 I will change the station to Ceylon for "Iravin madiyil" all beautiful "MOON" Songs and one such song is "Naalai intha Neram paarthu odi vaa nila". those days are gone. I am lucky to be born in this era of P. Susheeela and TMS, MGR and Sivaji, savithri and padmini MSV and Ilayaraja, Kamal Rajini,spb and Yesudoss, nagesh and manorama, kannadasan and pattukottai still I have collections of yesteryears melodies sung by PBS, AM raja and his wife, versatile TMS and Susheela, thathuva padalkal. great days gone, cherished, lived, enjoyed, what not. thanks. Gokulakrishnan

4:49 AM  

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