Agli farmaish hai, Jhumri Telaiya se Rajkumar ki.... echoed Ameen Sayani's inimitable baritone voice on Radio Ceylon, The first broadcasting station of South Asia. Have you wondered why the name Jhumri Telaiya has occurred regularly on Radio, Tv and movies? Jhumri Telaiya is a legend.... a part of folklore, a name that has been a part of every radio freak, since the 1950s! It isn't a person, (well almost) ... Jhumri Telaiya is a small town/ city, a part of Koderma district of Jharkhand. Believe you me, I was among those who mentioned the name numerous times, but amidst sarcasm, in ignorance of it being a REAL place! So, why does this small town hold so much weight? Why do I call it a Legend? The famous Radio Story! In the 1950s, when television was still a yearning for many Indian homes, radio programmes were a huge entertainment source, probably the only one. People in Indian villages took to radio as a means to keep abreast with the news and well.... the entertainment world. Radio Ceylon gained popularity after B.V. Kesakar, the then Information and Broadcasting Minister, banned film music on All India Radio in 1952. Radio Ceylonâ€™s most popular programme for Hindi film songs was Binaca Geetmala, hosted by the legendary Ameen Sayani. The buzzing radio sound, fine tuned to the sound of the iconic host calling out names for song requests, was a regular act witnessed in all homes and shops. That was when a mica mining tycoon from Jhumri Telaiya, Rameshwar Prasad Barnwal, decided to join the trend. Barnwalâ€™s name started appearing regularly in the requests announced in this show. Tempted by the thought of hearing their name on radio, two other residents of Jhumri Telaiya, decided to join the postcard sending bandwagon, and that set the town trending. Their popularity and names announced regularly on the show, catapulted them to the heights of almost a celebrity. As was natural to happen, it set of a cult of sorts.... every resident of Jhumri Telaiya clamoured to hear their name over the radio too. There arose a competitive streak amongst the dwellers to send out more requests than the others, leading to forming Listeners' Clubs! Such was the furore that the 15 seconds of fame created. A popular belief also says that postmen were bribed by the residents to post only their letters sent to the radio show! Now what happened after, was amazing..... at one point Jhumri Telaiya boasted of being the town with the largest number of radio sets! A request a day, was the least that was sent from the town. In 1957, when All India Radio re-started broadcasting old Hindi film songs on Vividh Bharti Service (VBS), the whole town began sending postcards, with the request format printed on postcards, with only the song details being filled in by hand. When pure love for music transformed to such competitive passion, is inexplicable, but it sure did lend Jhumri Telaiya a fair amount of fame! My research tells me that Jhumri Telaiya became such a pertinent part of folklore, that Jhumri Telaiya fan clubs began springing up in other states. Taking inspiration from this enterprising little town, the other smaller villages followed suit and started sending postcards to radio stations as well. The townâ€™s name was immortalised in Bollywood songs too. Remember the Jagga Jasoos song, crooning "Mera gaanv Jhumri Telaiya hai, Tera gaanv shayad Timbuktu"?
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