One of the first news broadcasters on Indian Television Gitanjali Aiyar has passed away. Aiyar was an English news presenter on Doordarshan and had presented news on the Doordarshan for over 30 years. She died on Wednesday, June 7th.
Aiyar joined Doordarshan in 1971. She was awarded the best anchor award several times during her three-decade-long career.
The era leading up to the late 1980s had news presenters who commanded more fans than even the lesser-known Indian film industry stars. Geetanjali Aiyar, Shammi Narang, Pratima Puri, Rini Simon Khanna, Neethi Ravindran, Minu Talwar, and Salma Sultan were some of them.
In one of her own interviews, Geetanjali had said that she was six when she decided to be a news reader. “Whenever news would be read out and the news reader on the radio would say, ‘the news read by Barun Hawaldar, or so and so‘ we would go pin-drop silent. I would observe how words were spoken or pronounced though very subconsciously. And that encouraged me into participating in elocutions and debates. The day I finished college I joined the Doordarshan. But no one cared back then.”
She said, “I would leave my daughter at home and when I came back I would ask if they (my family) knew the mistake or a fumble that I made, etc, or how the sari looked. But no one noticed.” However, she added, “Outsiders though were very good and nice to them.”
In her words, she said that the furniture in the studio was very basic. “We would read out from the papers. Later, slowly we were made to use teleprompters.”
“You can’t become a star overnight. The art of learning news presentation is a slow process. You learn it very gradually and have to be patient,” Geetanjali Aiyar had said in one of her last interviews.