A time-traveller’s guide to Mahalaya*
Anirban Mukherjee
62

Thanks for a beautifully written reflection on Mahalaya! Loved it!

মহালয়া (Mahalaya), I’d say is a landmark radio programme, definitely in the history of Indian Radio, if not in the world. I’d rank it as one of the most innovative use of radio transmission, and blended rendering of human voice, music, and storytelling in the history of broadcasting. You mentioned Uttam Kumar’s rendition that was aired only once and was taken off; a very similar fate to imitation of Mahalaya happened with Indian television, it never went anywhere— let’s face it: nothing symbolises Mahalaya more than Birendra Krishna Bhadra. His majestic voice reverberates across the airwaves as dawn breaks to this day — rendition of an epic that at once carries a larger than life message of the triumph of Good over Evil, told in an inimtable style of storytelling.

Doesn’t matter who you are, which religion you belong to: listen to Mahalaya on a mellow autumn morning (or as it happens in our neck o’ the woods, a calm spring dawn breaking) and you are magically transformed into another world where you are assured of the joy of Good triumphant over evil. Pure bliss!

Sadly, if only Birendra Krishna Bhadra were to receive our collective gratitude that he deserved.

Quite uncanny if you think that it was his resonating voice and ensemble of music that set the tone for Durga Puja across the world. Now and forever!

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