By Kashish Rai
Once upon a time, a voice echoed from the radio set and was known in every household~ This was Devki Nandan Pandey, a well-known news reader of his time.
Devki Nandan Pandey is known as the “Father of News Broadcasting in India”. He was a personality whose newsreading motivated the whole generation of broadcasters. Whenever one recalls his name even today, one only remembers him as a great exponent of the art of communication. Besides being a newsreader, Pandey also acted in films and television serials. Devki Nandan Pandey ji was also conferred with ‘Padam Shree’ Award for All time great Hindi announcer in AIR (All India Radio).
In his lifetime, Pandey became an institution of news reading. His style of reading the news, the correctness of his pronunciation, the seriousness of his tone and the fluctuations in the pitch and context was enough to bring the listener to a thrill.
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Devki Nandan was born in Kanpur. His father Shivdutt Pandey was a well-known doctor of his field. His father was a very kind hearted man who was available for patients 24X7 and was ready to treat any patient for free. Originally the Pandey family belonged to Kumaon. Perhaps this is the reason why Devki Nandan had a “pahadi” touch in his voice.
Devki Nandan was never a bright student during his school days but he never failed in his class. He had a keen interest in traveling, playing and sports. He never liked textbooks but books, novels, stories, biographies and history books always attracted him. He got his early education in Almora, Uttarakhand. Almora is a city located above the Himalayan mountain ranges. Pandey’s father was an avid lover of books. Due to this, there was a good collection of books in their home which made Pandey interested in reading.
The Time When Pandey Realised His Passion
During his college life, Pandey’s English teacher Vishambhar Dutt Bhatt had great affection for him. He first recognized and appreciated the uniqueness of Pandey’s voice. He made his student feel his talent. Bhatt started encouraging Pandey for theater. In Almora Pandey participated in several dozen plays which strengthened his confidence.
In the 60s, there were only two radios in a small place like Almora. One was in the house of Joshi ji, a school teacher, and the other was in the house of a businessman, Shah ji. The young Devkinandan Pandey would be thrilled to hear the news of the Second World War. He would leave all work everyday and go to listen to the news.
During those days, the two broadcasters of Germany radio were Lord Ho Ho and Dr. Farooqui. Both were excellent broadcasters. His voice always dominated Pandey’s heart and mind. In 1971, Pandey went to Allahabad to pursue his Undergraduate degree in B.A from Allahabad University, which was famous all over the Country.
In 1973, Pandey took up a government job in Lucknow and was selected as a radio artist for Announcer and Drama Artist on Radio Lucknow. This station was dominated by Urdu broadcasters. Pandey always believed that he got the study of this specific language and practice the nuances of correct pronunciation from Radio Lucknow itself. It can be clearly said that it was due to broadcasters like Devki Nandan Pandey that Hindi started to get respect in an English-oriented platform like Akashvani.
Journey of Becoming The “Voice of Akashvani”
Hindi News Division was established in All India Radio in the year 1949. It starred Alle Hassan (who was later considered the world-renowned broadcaster of the BBC Urdu service) Suresh Awasthi, Brijendra, Saeeda Bano and Chand Krishna Kaul. It was natural that the news readers of that time were required to come both in Hindi and Urdu. Alle Hassan’s Hindi reading was amazing. He was a very capable investigator and news reader. Initially, the original news was written in English, which the reader had to translate. Ashok Vajpayee, Vinod Kashyap and Ramanuj Pratap Singh were also forced to translate, but after a lot of struggle, they got rid of this problem and Hindi news began to be written in Hindi. It is also worth mentioning here that the role of Devki Nandan Pandey cannot be ignored in those who made him believe that Hindi broadcasting was in front of such English broadcasters like Melvin Dimelo and Chakrapani.
Devki Nandan Pandey used to merge himself with events at the time of the news broadcast and this was the reason why his reading style touched the hearts of millions of listeners. There was a magical touch in his voice. Sometimes it seemed that the radio set started trembling with Pandey’s voice.
Today, when TV channels are flooded and FM radio stations are encroaching life through their own live broadcasts, to remember Devki Nandan Pandey in itself is a Blissful feeling. Amid lack of technology during that time, Pandey made himself a household name on the basis of his unique voice.
The news of the death of Sardar Patel, Liaquat Ali Khan, Maulana Azad, Govind Vallabh Pant, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Jayaprakash Narayan reached the whole country in the voice of Pandey. In-spite of being retired, Pandey was specially invited to the Delhi station of All India Radio to read the news of the sudden demise of Sanjay Gandhi.
Leaving Behind a Legacy
Devki Nandan Pandey got offers from international broadcasting organizations like Voice of America due to recognition of his outstanding work in India, but his love for his beloved land India stopped him from doing so. Pandey realized the popularity of his personality on the day when Mrs. Indira Gandhi once invited the staff of All India Radio to her residence to hear her problem.
When Mrs. Gandhi was introduced to Pandey, she smiled and said, “OK, So you are our nation’s news voice?”. Former Information Broadcasting Minister Vidyacharan Shukla once embraced Pandey after hearing Pandey’s name.
Regarding the new news readers, what Pandey had to say was doing something with reverence, honesty and hard work and always being aware of the current events.
He believed that the more you listen and read the better you will be able to speak. Never copy a style. If you tell any mistake, accept it by bowing it and have a feeling of favor towards the person.
Make the habit of reading innocent and thoughtful; Confidence will come and identity will be created.
Today, Devki Nandan Pandey is not in our midst, but whenever the news broadcasts on radio will go on, his name will continue to be known as the peak of this genre.