Andhra Pradesh

The doyen looks back

Shanti Swaroop, Telugu television’s first-ever anchor, recounts the baby steps of the small screen.  

He witnessed the birth pangs of Telugu television and was part of its early, tentative steps. More than three decades after he presented the first Telugu news bulletin on Doordarshan, Shanti Swaroop’s stroll down the memory lane is laced with joyous achievements and a tinge of sadness at the small screen’s state of affairs.

He was there in 1975, when a tryst with television was made with the project Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE), and remote villages in five districts were chosen for informational programmes. “In a way, I also happen to be first anchor for Telugu television, as I had then anchored educational and health-related programmes,” he recalls.

Though the operations were carried out from a studio at Somajiguda, many in the city were not even aware of the concept of television as it was limited to select rural spots. When Doordarshan was upgraded and a decision to introduce news in Telugu was taken in 1977, Shanti Swaroop says, “God selected this small soul for a big task”.

Technical issues caused delays, but Shanti Swaroop finally went live with news in 1983 amid DD’s  struggle with teething problems and limited resources. “From then, till the time I retired in 2011, viewers had to suffer me,” he laughs. For decades, till the advent of private networks, Telugu viewers relied on his easy pace of reading news that became a trademark, for developments around the globe. How does he look at the present trends in television? “I feel a bit out of place. I fail to understand the trend of rushing through news. Anchors hurry through news as if they are being chased with daggers,” he points out.

Shanti Swaroop, who after retirement has been occasionally anchoring shows such as Dharma Sandehalu on DD, painfully looks at the commercialisation of television and the gross dependence on movies, movie stars, efforts to sensationalise and the gory portrayal of crime.

“Social issues and educational efforts have taken a backseat, and now the focus seems to be on which actor eats what, wears what and so on. It pains to see a great scientific instrument called television reduced to such trivia,” he sighs.

T. Lalith Singh

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Printable version | May 1, 2021 1:30:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/the-doyen-looks-back/article7069829.ece

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