This article is a replug on account of World Radio Day 2022. It was first published on February 20, 2021 and was written by Kashika Manhas.
New Delhi: On the occasion of World Radio Day, CitySpidey decided to interview a local musician from Dwarka. It may not seem like that big of a task but I’m relatively new to this job. Nervousness was bound to hit me like an overloaded truck in India.
There were soft yellow walls and sunlight was filtering through his living room window. It was a small but well ventilated room, with an air of gentleness. I sat down and soaked in the surroundings, my mind came at ease with the welcoming atmosphere. The walls of the room were graced with posters of artists and pictures of Hindustani classical musical instruments.
83-year-old musician, Kalyan Roy's experience as a singer was very different from that of today’s generation. “We had to make a lot of efforts to play a song. You switch on the TV today, you’ll see the lyrics of the songs along with a hip vibrant video. All of this wasn’t available to us back then.” he said when we asked him about his journey.
“My memory is a bit hazy but I can remember my first broadcast. It was on May 5, 1957,” be began.
He met Alok Mukherjee for the first time in 1957 when he was an I.SC (Science) student at BN college in Patna. Mukherjee was an old Ghazal singer from Patna. He asked Roy to audition for a radio broadcast which he cleared, letting him earn an air time of fifteen minutes. The fifteen minutes of broadcasts at AIR soon increased to thirty minutes.
"That’s when I started singing in groups, Hindi songs and bhajans were my area of interest." His wife couldn’t control her laughter when she told us how passionate and crazy he was for his music. “He used to walk while singing. When somebody asked where Roy lives, people would say, are you asking about that the man who roams around singing Hindu songs? Everybody knew him because of his music.” she says.
Rabindra Bhawan is a place in Bhubaneswar, where Roy was invited for a challenging show of his lifetime. “I’m a Bengali and someone once asked me to sing an Odia song for a show. There isn’t much contrast between Bengali and Odia, the only difference is the slight change in pronunciation. It was my job though, I had to do it. I used to record the composer on a small tape-recorder when he used to train us for the show. That was the only way I could practice and sing the entire composition correctly,” he told us excitedly. “It was not an easy task. I mostly sing Hindi bhajan but after much practice, I got it right and sang for the audience. The response was overwhelming, someone from the crowd came up to me and held my hands. It was a very happy moment for me,” he said.
Our meeting ended on a sweet note, quite literally, as Roy treated us with traditional Bengali Rosogulla and the first song he ever sang on the radio. The interview didn’t go as bad as I imagined it to be. In fact, it was just the opposite.