Shanti Swaroop - A pioneer who brought stories to life

Whether breaking news or a feature story, Shanti Swaroop’s distinctive voice and impeccable diction set him apart as a legendary figure in the broadcasting world

April 05, 2024 04:36 pm | Updated 04:36 pm IST

File photo of Shanti Swaroop being honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award during an awards function in Secunderabad
Photo: Nagara Gopal

File photo of Shanti Swaroop being honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award during an awards function in Secunderabad Photo: Nagara Gopal | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

In the early 1990s, when this writer met him as a journalism student, Shanti Swaroop made a prescient observation: “The launch of satellite telecasting would catapult newsreaders into positions of power, making them influential figures within society.” Prophetic indeed!

Shifting from All India Radio to Doordarshan represented a significant transition for Swaroop, especially as the first Telugu newsreader on television. When we persisted in knowing the difference between the two experiences, he patiently explained, “In radio, it is all about my voice – getting the pronunciation right, modulating it effectively to convey the message. But stepping into the realm of television brought a whole new dimension. It is not just about what I say but how I look and present myself. From the gaze in my eyes, the subtle tilt of my head, to the positioning of my lips – every visual element matters, alongside maintaining the correct pronunciation and modulation.”

Setting the path

Shanti Swaroop’s contributions to Telugu news reading undoubtedly played a crucial role in shaping the Telugu media landscape and leaving a lasting impact on an entire generation. His passing on April 5, 2024, at a city hospital due to a heart attack marks the end of an era. He joined Doordarshan in 1978 and was selected to read the first Telugu news bulletin on November 14, 1983. Swaroop’s unique approach to news presentation, devoid of a teleprompter, showcased his innovative style and technique. Without a precedent to emulate, he chartered his course and demonstrated exceptional skill by memorising extensive amounts of news content in an era before teleprompters. Swaroop’s deliberate and measured pace while reading his lines may have irked some people, but this unique style eventually became his USP and gained widespread acceptance.

Swaroop gained popularity on Doordarshan through diverse programmes like the talk show Muchatlu and the widely-loved spiritual programme Dharma Sandehaalu, alongside his prime-time news bulletins and celebrity interviews.

Swaroop, a BSc graduate from New Science College in Narayanaguda, was deeply rooted in his Hyderabad origins despite his parents’ migration from Andhra. Named after the eminent scientist Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar by his father, who had worked alongside the renowned figure, Swaroop’s interests extended beyond his professional life. During his college years, he found solace and passion in arts, literature, and theatre, a side of him that often went unnoticed amidst his broadcasting career.

He penned diverse books such as Raathi Megham about the Bhopal gas tragedy, Craze, a fiction work on cricket, and Ardhangi, which criticises the practice of Sati.

Swaroop met and married Roja Rani, his late wife, while working at Doordarshan. She was not only his colleague and co-anchor but also a child actor in the 1965 Krishna-starrer Thene Manasulu. Swaroop is survived by two sons and grandchildren.

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