Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Monday, February 19, 2007

DD News then

Remember the old days when Doordarshan News was the only TV news available?No breaking news flashes, no news tickers, no "paraparappu" seidhi, no over made up news readers. But thinking back about them now, the news then, with much less antics and hype, was lot better than what we see on hundreds of channels today.

In the local channel, that is DD-1 then, we had the "Seidhi Surukkam" (news in brief) at 7 and then the detail news at 8.40. Infact the first versions had this typical blarring music and a hand written, no-graphics note (at home, we used to envy the lovely caligraphy and wondered who was the man behind it). Then the graphics version underwent lots of changes before finally settling on the current one (quite impressive at that).

The first time when DD-1 became colour, it was the Seidhi surukkam which got the honours. H.Ramakrishnan (who also featured in "Vaanamae Ellai" and later became News correspondent in DD) was in all smiles when he was shown in colour.

Among the news readers, Shobana Ravi was the darling of the viewers. Those days, the talk doing the rounds was that she never featured in the same saree more than once on TV. And ofcourse, our women folk wondered the number of sarees she would have amassed (a worthy doubt indeed!!). Then came Fathima (I used to read her name as "Ahh.. Fathima" - the way its written in Tamil starting with the Ayudha ezhuthu "Ahh"). She became an instant hit with her diction, style and that soft smile while reading. She was even considered a rival to Shobana Ravi. Infact she was one of the first Muslim readers (women from Muslim community still hadn't ventured so publicly). I used to feel, a pottu was all that was missing on her cheerful face and used to place a sticker pottu on the TV to see how Fathima looked with the pottu.

Sandhya Rajagopal, Koperundhevi and a few others who also donned the show. The now popular Nirmala Periyasamy (her characterisitc "Vanakkkkkam" was not known then) was a TV announcer in DD then.

Among the men it was Arasu, Tamilzhanban (more known for his pencil meesai (he also used to figure in pattimandrams, also read recently that hewas a Sahita Academy award winner) and a few others. One thing common amongst all of them was their flawless diction.

The ones at the National level (English news) were popular at "All-India" level. My personal favourite was the soft spoken Nithi Ravindran who had this stylish grey hair and simple dressing. Among the men it was Tejeshwar Singh who had this deep manly voice. I also liked Rini Khanna, Sukanya Balakrishnan, Mini, Sunit Tandon (the frail looking bearded guy), Bhaskar Bhattacharji (with his thick brush musch and military haircut), Sangita (who was one of the youngest then and very cute looking) and the manly Shivendra Kundra. The names of Geetanjali Ayyar and Sukanya Balakrishnan suggested that they were from the south but the way they pronounced the names of places in Tamilnadu... urrgh... definitely puts a Tamilian to shame. We used to wonder, initially how to pronounce the last name of Usha Albuquerque. Komal G B singh, another famous reader, who always read with a smile, went on to become an official announcer in government functions like the National Awards.

Even in those days (late 80s), the readers were paid about Rs.2500 per sitting, which even today, is quite impressive.

Without much media attention in those days, its amazing to note the kind of adolation and fans the news readers gained in those days.


மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Thanks Ravi. I am really happy to see someone stopped at my blog and liked that.

Your words will make my writing much glitter. Thanks ravi!

I will read your post and will comment!

வேதா said...

attendence pls:) will visit tomorrow:)

Ravi said...

Please is mine. Thanks for coming by. Yes, I do hope you conitnue your writing. Since I am out of the country right now, your posts kind of make me feel closer to home.

Thanks. Vaazhthu mazhaila nenanjittu irupeenga. So take your time ;-)

Balaji S Rajan said...


You missed our famous 'Varadarajan' in Tamil News readers list.

Arunkumar said...

ravi first time here. hopped here via karthik's blog. what to say abt ur post.. it just made me nostalgic.

u have recollected lot of ppl... good job esp because i am not good at remembering names :(

வேதா said...

nice memories ravi. since it was the only news in tv we used to hear it regularly and my fav was always shobana ravi:) as u pointed out rite we used to wonder at her beautiful sarees:) u are amazing in remembering names:)

Ravi said...

Balaji Sir,
Thanks for that! How did I ever forget him??!! Infact he was also parallely acting in dramas. Romba naala ungala indha pakka kanom??

Welcome and thanks for visiting my blog. I was sure this post would kindle the memories of many because DD was the only channel then and so the TV personalities were like well-known faces :)

Nandri! Yes, Shobana Ravi's sarees was of more concern to the viewers than the news itself ;-)

Ravi said...

Sorry, my comment should have read "Pleasure is mine...". Ore typo errors-a panren. Mannikavum.

R.Prabhu said...

Good post! Ravi. Neethi Ravindran, Minu, Usha Albuquerque, Tamil Anban etc reminds me of the good old TV days!!! I loved to watch news those days, especially for their articulate delivery. Nice post!!!

Ravi said...

Thanks! Yes, ippo news reader panra chettaiya paarkum bodhu, those days they were just too good.

Marutham said...

I rembr how long i waited with my sis so the news is over & we could change the channel :P

And yes i second Balaji sir,
//You missed our famous 'Varadarajan' in Tamil News readers list.// Ivara poi miss panalamo... ;)
I can even now recognise his voice....

:) Nice post...

Nandhu said...

your blogs exhibits an excellent knowledge of the newsreaders names and how they looked.

i remember a few of them, but not in such great detail.

the sensationalism was def less in those days. seems we need newscasters in pvt channels to be a little more calm and quiet.

Arun R said...

The first time I watched TV, in 1985, my favourite item on TV would be the announcement of missing people on TV, which used to come before the news.

All announcements used to be made in Hindi, and somehow I still remember the address which they used to mention.

Gumshuda Talash Kendra,
Nai Kotwali,
New Delhi. (I seem to have forgotten the pin no:; guess its 110001) :) :) :)

Ravi said...

ha ha, yes, that was a good one. Yes, shouldn't have missed Varadharajan.

Welcome here! and Thanks. Yes, the hype around news (and this breaking news thing is so irritating these days) is getting on my nerves.

wow! That is one kind of memory. Yes, we used to have the same in Tamil version too. Something like :
Aaivaalar, Kaaval thurai kattu paattu arai, Ezhumbur, Chennai 600008.

Sree's Views said...

Hello Ravi,
Naan daily vandhu parthuttu irundhen neenga post poteengalannu..I dont know how I missed it..
Enakku indha topic pathee romba theriyaadhu..
Somehow Nirmala persisamy and Fathima put me off...I like sandhya rajagopal..
hee hee ivalodhaan theriyum...
(seekiram innoru post podunga)

Ravi said...

Thanks, thanks, thanks... (first for the comment, second for visitng everyday and the third... rendu thankskku oru thanks free ;-))
Fathima was kind of okay without any gimmicks. I know Nirmala Periyasamy reads with so much histrionics but somehow I like it (kind of funny!).

Deekshanya said...

Ravi - lovely lovely post! took me back to my childhood literally. Sukanya balakrishnan's smile - wow! I can still recollect!! I'm surprised how you missed , 'akashavaani' the ceylon channel where they start with somthing like 'hai bhuvaan',(ppl speaking sinhalese pardon me if am wrong!)!
golden days...

Ravi said...

Welcome here and thanks for your comment. Since I wrote only about TV, did not mention the radio news. I used to like the manly voice of Saroj Narayanaswamy and Ceylon Radio... wow.. so lively. I still remember some names like Rajeswari Shanmugham, Bhuvanalochani. I liked their choice of songs and above that, their presentation - too good!.

Sree's Views said...

Neenga en blog la potta comment paathathadhalirundhu I was searching for this blog.
Have u checked ?


Anonymous said...

That was rather too quick to blog,u sure are missing home a lot.hmphh..sometime when you find time write about Singapore and the people there too.


Anonymous said...

you are refreshing the memories by clicking on the brain's refresh button.

Ravi said...

Thanks! How r u doing? Yes, terribly home sick here. But Singapore? I have never been there.

Anonymous said...

oops sorry whatever place that was..LOL!


Anonymous said...

oops sorry whatever place that was..LOL!


Jeevan said...

wow u still remember everyones name! those days before the satellite channels come i don't have interest on watching news, but when waiting for dad to finish watching news, i see varatharajan reading news so he is fav that time.

Ravi said...

Thanks Jeevan!

Anonymous said...

hi, i dont know when these comments were made. but they make me go back in time. There used to be a time when i had to come back home by the time the DD News signature tune would start. THere used to be comments about Shobana Ravi's saris. Her mother too incidentally, Mrs Janaki was her name, was a news reader. And so was film and theatre personality poornam Viswanathan. He used to read in all India Radio too. Shobana ravi was the only news reader, who was a permanent staff of the Doordarshan kendra in Chennai. Now after her VRS that post does not exist any longer. H. Ramakrishnan was also one of the few news readers, who started reading news as soon as Doordarshan Kendra chennai was started, in 1975 August. He read for over 13 years. He has read the news with both the late Mrs Janaki and with Shobana Ravi.

Ravi said...

Hi (anonymous),
Thanks for that nice bit of info. Never knew that Poornam Viswanathan was a news reader. Yes, I knew that Shobana Ravi was the only permanent staff then (maybe after H.Ramakrishan). Others were lecturers, bank employees I guess. Thanks for coming...

Pegasus said...

actually it is a good sign that government controlled media has lost its significance.. there was always a conflict of interest and a temptation to do propaganda.

Ravi said...

Pegasus, sorry for the late reply. In DD, it was always neutral news or no news. They would conveniently avoid controversial news esp if it involves the ruling party. I think "singing praises" of ruling party was kind of evident during Rajiv's rule. Almost any news was on him. There was even a mock on this trend in one of the DD programmes itself!!

Anonymous said...

This is Bharani,
I late 90's i use to hear the "Ilangai vaanoli"- has been announced by rajeswari shanmugham.
Title:"idhu ilangai vaanoli kolumbu sarvadesa oliparapuu"...
Neyargal kettu kondirupadhu "leeviyeen cinema paadal" which i use to hear daily in ilangai vaanoli before i move to school!!! Nice days!!! If i want say regarding the news in Doordarshan Varadharajan in safari suit was a nice appearence for him!!! Now-a-days a small tiny mic fitted in their shirts but during those days in doordarshan MIC was kept on the table to receive the voice of the news readers!!! Technology has also changed but the old memories never change, still remains as a fresh fragrance!!!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't help but respond. I loved the listen to All India Radio English news every night at around 9.15pm. For 15-minutes, it was the best English news to be had for those that didn't have television.

Rini Khanna was always criticized for pronouncing Welcome incorrectly - she almost always said Wulcome. "Good Evening and Wulcome to the news!".. Geetanjali Ayer was the best news anchor.

Fathima - My mom used to joke about her eyebrows. Shobana Ravi allegedly had too much "bandha" - what is the right word in English? Fathima and Shobana - people were making bets about who was going to make more mistakes in a week..

Thamizhanban - he made documentaries as well.. There was one he made about Pichavaram.. Nice commentary in Tamil.

I am getting too nostalgic.. but does any one remember the woman on Delhi Doordarshan that takes over after 9pm? She always tried really hard to pronounce Tamil names. I remember her attempt at pronouncing the name of the Sunday afternoon regional film "Nizhalgal". It is a hard word to say for Tamils! Good try. It is funny, there were people that always stayed around and introduced the next program to the viewers.. no such introductions any more!!!

Ravi said...

Thanks anon for the nice comments and reminiscing those good old times! Don't know why but inspite of all they hype surrounding the media, still the news readers hardly made an impression.

Kadirvel said...

Respected Greats,
Now in Tamil News of Doordarshan Podhigai TV, Vijayakrishna is the News Reader with good diction, charming look and clarity of expression. He is being loved by
Tamil lovers all over the world. My favourite news reader is Vijayakrishna. Normally he reads DD Podhigai News on Saturdays or Sundays. Morning or Evening. Watch and you will also be his fan.

Kadirvel said...

Anuradha says,
It's correct. I also admire the reading especially the Tamil Pronounciation and different voice of Vijayakrishna Tamil News Reader in Podhigai Doordarshan TV from India.

Antony said...

Nijanthan was also one among the old news readers of DD.

He look like 'Prathap pothan'.

Anonymous said...


You also missed. Pankaj Mohan, Bald guy with specs and deep voice. He was good too.

Anonymous said...

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I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further innovates, the possibility of uploading our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I daydream about every once in a while.

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