It’s touted as one of the biggest properties on radio. Based on Valmiki’s epic, Fever Radio Ramayan showcases some of the most talented names in the film industry, including Anupam Kher (as Dashrath), Naseeruddin Shah (as Ravana), Ratna Pathak Shah (as Manthra) and Om Puri (as Kaal or time). Besides the heavyweights, the show, being aired by the Fever 104 radio network, features 200 voices in all, many of them theatre artistes. The first episode of the Hindi-language show went on air on 8 October in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, coinciding with the beginning of the auspicious Navratri season. The coming month will see it going on air in Kannada in Bangalore.
The good stuff
Fever Radio Ramayan is really “theatre of the mind”, in which listeners can visualize the epic while listening to it. This alternative to the clutter and overdose of Bollywood music is a throwback to the days of radio dramas aired on All India Radio (AIR).
All the episodes are in crisp digital sound, which make for clear and easy listening over mobile phones, car stereo systems or home radio sets. Footsteps, gushing wind and tinkling bells—all resonated at a larger-than-life level in the first episode.
Fever’s biggest challenge will be to sustain listener interest over six months. Though fresh episodes will be aired from Monday to Friday at 7am, with repeats three times a day, the duration of these capsules is only 12 minutes. There will be an hour-long compilation of all the capsules on weekends.
Given that time is at a premium in this format, it is surprising that so much of it was lost on just music in the second episode when dialogues could have taken the storyline forward. Fever might struggle to hold the attention of listeners who see radio as a “snacking medium” and are quick to change channels.
While the presence of veteran actors has already given the show a branding of sorts, many other voices will find it tough to live up to the standards set by them. However, even seasoned actors are not foolproof—a colleague was uncomfortable hearing Puri say “Shiri” Ram instead of “Shri” Ram in his impressive baritone.
Fever plans to bring out a dedicated merchandise line based on Fever Radio Ramayan that will include T-shirts, mugs, canvas bags and refrigerator magnets. So far, the station has given away nearly Rs1 lakh as prize money to listeners in quizzes.
(Mint is published by HT Media Ltd, which owns the operator of Fever 104 radio station.)