Tamil Nadu

An unusual farewell gift from AIR

Savitra B. Rajaram  

On June 12, the Central English Features Unit (CEFU) of All India Radio played a national award-winning radio documentary on Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) across its stations in the country. It was done as a rare gesture on the day Savitra B. Rajaram, the producer of the docu-feature that received Akashvani Annual Award in 2015, retired.

In commemoration of his 33 years of service, the CEFU, Delhi, decided to give a befitting send-off to him, who is a popular voice across Tamil Nadu and known for his innumerable Tamil radio documentaries.

Naanga Kelambura Neram Vanthachchu (It’s time for us to take off), the 20-minute programme chronicles how the ATCs handle their task with ingenuity, calm and aplomb every day. It was the only national award Tamil Nadu won in broadcasting in 2015.

“It is an important and interesting subject to highlight; fabulous idea as an audio story but a difficult programme to make for the radio,” said CEFU In-charge Basudha Banerji, who adapted the programme in English in 2017 and broadcast it on the national network first in 2018. Before this, the original Tamil version was broadcast from Madurai station twice.

“The feature was packed with information about the extraordinary skills of the professionals who keep a constant vigil on sky routes...,” said Ms. Banerji. When she heard about Mr. Rajaram’s retirement, she pulled out the recording from the archives and put it on the national hook-up once again.

On his last day at work, as Mr. Rajaram went around the duty room – where he started his career as transmission executive in 1989 – his colleagues gave him a standing ovation as his name as the producer of ‘Eye on the Sky’ came on air.

When he saw aeroplanes every two minutes in the sky during a visit to Qutub Minar in 2014, the idea to do an exclusive programme on the ATC was born. Twenty hours of recording over two days to understand the logistics and the science behind flying was compressed into a capsule of 20 minutes that virtually transports the listeners to an airport and the control tower.

“It was fascinating to watch the preparations that go on for every plane flying in and out and editing was a greater challenge as we compiled effects of a multi-sensory feeling in aural format from seven parallel soundtracks,” said Mr. Rajaram.

As the programme head in Tiruchi, Kodaikanal, Nagercoil and Madurai during his career, he was known for making Tamil a brand in radio programming with a live oratorical competition (Seppuga Senthamizh), the 16-square radio crossword in Tamil, science serials on disaster management and reviving 131 extinct lullabies sung by village folks.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 9:25:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/an-unusual-farewell-gift-from-air-madurai-savitra-b-rajaram/article34937781.ece

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