Radio Days: Actors who worked as radio jockeys before hitting stardom

93 years after the inauguration of India’s first broadcasting radio station, we look at stars like Sunil Dutt and Ayushmann Khurrana who first started out as popular hosts of radio shows.

Sonal Pandya

On 23 July 1927, the Indian Broadcast Company (IBC) inaugurated its first station in Bombay by Lord Irwin, the Viceroy of India. It was renamed All India Radio (AIR) in 1936 and grew to become one of the leading broadcasting organisations in the world. By 15 August 1947, there were six broadcasting centres. Today, there are 419 such centres across the country.

Before they became famous, many film personalities began their careers on the airwaves. Incredibly, Amitabh Bachchan’s famous baritone was rejected as a newsreader by AIR. Instead, he turned his attention to films. These hosts didn’t face that problem as they successfully sailed through their radio auditions.

1. Sunil Dutt

Future star of the silver screen, Sunil Dutt got his start hosting the show, Lux Ke Sitaray, as Balraj on Radio Ceylon, one of the main competitors of All India Radio during the 1950s. The Minister of information and broadcasting, Dr Balkrishna Vishwanath Keskar made it impossible for Hindi film songs to be played on air. Consequently, Hindi film songs were only heard on Radio Ceylon, causing its popularity to rapidly grow.

2. Saeed Jaffrey

After passing the audition for announcer, Saeed Jaffrey began work in April 1951 at the All India Radio on a monthly salary of Rs250. A couple of years later, Madhur Bahadur joined the team as a night announcer. The two married in 1958 when Jaffrey was performing in the United States with the National Players, a classical touring company.

3. Ayushmann Khurrana

Before gaining acclaim with his first film, Vicky Donor (2012), Ayushmann Khurrana was a RJ hosting the show ‘Big Chai – Maan Na Maan, Main Tera Ayushmann’ on Delhi’s BIG FM. During that time, he became the first winner of the Bharat Nirman Young Achievers award. Khurrana moved to hosting shows on television and later neatly transitioned into an actor. His last film Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015) won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.