Friday, March 3, 2017
Harvest of hunger in 1972 - A write up by Sharad Bhosale, retired SD, AIR on his association with Padmashri Mellville De Mello
It was in the year 1972 I had just completed 2 years in AIR Pune as a Farm Radio Reporter. One day My Station Director Shri Bhaskarrao Bhosale called me in his chamber. In those day just to enter in the chamber of Station Director was a great thing for us .When I entered in his chamber he said “Sharad” (He use to call me by my first name) Mell Ville Demello is visiting our station and he will visit various districts of Maharashtra and you have to accompany him to assist him to record interviews with farmers, Agricultural Labors, Men and Women in connection with drought of Maharashtra. I said Ok sir.
Till that period I was totally ignorant and not knowing anything about Mell ville Demello not even herd his name. But when I came to know that he was a great Broadcaster, Padmashree and recipient of many National and International Awards, and he had done live commentary of Mahatma Gandhi’s funeral procession. Therefore when he arrived I was afraid and upset after seeing the tall personality of 6 feet height. He was speaking very fine English. He told me Mr. Bhosale we have to travel in many districts of Maharashtra where the drought condition is worst and you have to take the interviews with the drought affected persons in their local language and translate it in English.
In those days we had to carry portable spool recorder, one mike stand, ball mike and 12 watt acid battery for power supply and bunch of spool tapes for recording. In this way we started our journey and travelled in a Jeep to Marathwada, Khandesh, and Vidharbha for about 15-20 days. And recorded about 50-60 interviews of different walks of life. Then Mell Ville Demello returned back to Delhi and invited me to Delhi for dubbing and editing of the recording. However my Station Director expressed his inability to send me to Delhi because of out of zone jurisdiction. Next day order from Director General Shri P.C.Chattarji came asking to depute me to Delhi for fifteen days and I was deputed to Delhi. It was really thrilling and great experience for me. His dubbing style and editing was perfect and flawless because for dubbing and editing he was cutting the spool tapes and splicing. I think he was the unique personality and nobody else in those days was allowed to cut the tapes for dubbing. In this way we produced Two National Features entitled “Harvest of hunger” for duration of 70 minutes each and were broadcast within an interval of a fortnight. As you all are aware that in those days Radio was only the electronic media of mass communication.
When Harvest of Hunger feature was broadcast on National hookup in the Natational programme of feature and relayed throughout the country. The Government of Maharashtra and the Central Government provided the additional relief measures to Maharashtra to the Drought Affected. I think that was the great achievement of Radio.
Melville de Mellow worked with the All India Radio from April 1950 to April 1971 and belonged to the ‘staff artistes’ category. Following his superannuation he was retained as Producer (Emeritus) for another five years with AIR. Demellow is remembered as an iconic broadcaster noted for his deep baritoned commentary of various events in independent India. In 1948 he accompanied the cortege bearing Mahatma Gandhi's body from Birla House to the cremation venue at Raj Ghat giving a seven-hour-long commentary of the event from an All India Radio van. Melville de Mellow's moving commentary that day, articulating the nation's grief and homage as the cortege moved towards Raj Ghat, is remembered as one of the best instances of radio broadcasting in India. His commentary that day inspired veteran Hindi commentator Jasdev Singh, then a seventeen-year-old, to take up commentary as a profession. Singh has since been conferred with a Padma Shri and a Padma Bhushan for his services to radio broadcasting. In 1952 Melville de Mellow was handpicked by the British Government for broadcasting a running commentary on Queen Elizabeth’s coronation procession. He was also the commentator at India's Republic Day parade for several years and his commentary of India-Pakistan hockey matches are remembered to this day. His reportage on the Bangladesh War and its subsequent liberation by Indian forces were keenly awaited by listeners of the radio.
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