‘Radio gave me everything'

Radio Akkayya Turaga Janaki Rani discusses a book containing her radio plays. PHOTO: M. SUBHASH

Radio Akkayya Turaga Janaki Rani discusses a book containing her radio plays. PHOTO: M. SUBHASH  

Event Eminent writer Turaga Janaki Rani gave an insight into production of radio plays. MANJULA KOLANU

To most listeners of old-time radio, she is better known as ‘Radio Akkayya' the voice of All India Radio behind successful programmes. Naturally When the ‘Hundred books in 100 days' initiative by Dr. Suryaprakash organised a book reading session with Janaki Rani on September 24, people flocked to hear her speak on her radio plays. Janaki Rani had not only written and produced numerous radio plays, but also produced many features on All India Radio (AIR) for children (titled Balanandam ), women ( Idi na samasya ) and the aged ( Sravanthi ).

Janaki Rani recalls having begun writing quite early – her first publication appeared in Krishna Patrika when she was only 15 years old.

She says, “I was always enthusiastic and enterprising. I used to write a lot of stories but after the death of my husband Turaga Krishna Mohan Rao that I took up the job at AIR, in 1974. Though I had needed the job to bring up my children, radio gradually became the centre of my life.”

Janaki Rani is an eminent writer even outside the radio, having written books like Erragulabeelu, Janaki Rani Kathalu, Maa Taatayya Chalam, Navvani Puvvu, Ee Desam Oka Himalayam and translations of some stories of J.B. Priestley and O'Henry.

Speaking of her radio plays, Janaki Rani recalls, “My stint with radio began with reading plays, later I began writing and production. AIR producers were very supportive of my writing on diverse themes and experiments with techniques. They gave me a free hand and I loved challenges. So I wrote 30-40 plays for children, and produced many more. Those days production techniques were simple but we had to build everything from scratch. That's why I thrived in AIR; I was fearless and had the initiative.”

Talking about her book of radio plays Nee Jeevitam Naaku Kavali , she recalls, “I am proud to say that I was the only one to have her radio plays published. I wrote on gender issues, morality, and children's issues.

She adds, “A successful radio play production has to use three elements effectively – voice of ‘actors', pause between dialogues and non-verbal elements. Dialogues cannot convey everything on radio–setting, its mood, time lapse; it all depends on music or other non-verbal elements. In producing plays, I recorded cries of new borns at nursing homes, went to police control homes to record voices of juvenile delinquents, and even interviewed street beggars for that ‘authentic' feel. It was not always easy- when I went to a ‘rescue home' for women, they opened up and spoke only after 2 hours; so it needed a lot of patience.”

Asked about how she perceives radio production now, she says “I think the potential of radio is not being explored, perhaps the producers are not challenged enough to try new stuff. I think AIR doesn't have broadcasters anymore, they only have officers. ”

She sums up candidly, “If asked whether the organisation (AIR) benefitted because of me or whether I benefitted from it, I'd definitely say I benefitted more - my personality got shaped there. Everything I am today is thanks to AIR.”

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