RadioandMusic
| 30 Sep 2020
Should FM radio dump the spoof?

MUMBAI: Humour capsules have been floating on the airwaves for eons. But FM radio in the country has just got its first jolt after Sunny Deol lashed out at Big FM for broadcasting 'Son Sunny', the capsule that takes off on him and his father Dharmendra.

Son Sunny, that has been running on the station for one and half years, has been taken off three days ago. Deol is still breathing fire, but the station is yet to officially respond to his allegations of defamation.

The incident has caused stations to sit up and scrutinise their programming a trifle closely, although most are unwilling to speak openly.

Most FM stations, that depend heavily on music, break the monotony with fillers, sparklers and capsules that evoke a bit of laughter.

These quirky characters, which listeners can relate to and laugh at, emerge as strong differentiators, even brand ambassadors, for the radio station, insist those in the know.

Programmers say these fillers work well as advertisers are inclined to invest around these properties. Shows like Radio City's  'Babbar Sher' Red FM's Kamla ka hamla and Angry Ganeshan,  'Chai with Charan' on Radio One, Mirchi's Bappi da ka Gyaan' have been around for years now    

As radio consultant Sunil Kumar says, Half of the content on radio is based on mimicry and it forms an essential part in their RJ talk, radio advertisements, sparklers etc. Targeting a spoof doesn't mean that radio as a medium is being targeted....

But actor Suresh Menon who doubles as voice over artistes for such shows, points out, It is mainly because radio is getting bigger and better that it is being targeted. Spoofs, comments about your personality and life come in handy once a person becomes famous....

Ravi Iyer, the producer of sparkler Hema Aunty ke Super Tips..  agrees,  Spoofs on radio have been on air since many years but is gaining notice now. A decade ago, there were spoofs on Bal Thackeray, Amitabh Bachchan but radio as a medium wasn't heard much and so nobody objected. Today radio has become a mainstream medium and it is attracting attention....

Red FM has a breakfast weekend show, 'Comedy No.1' hosted by Suresh Menon and Jose. In this slot, the duo spoofs personalities across categories including Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan, Raj Kumar etc.

Jose questions, What if Amitabh Bachchan decides to sue everyone who apes him! Spoofs on air are not meant to be malicious but it is just a humorous take on the famous people...   

Menon insists that voice over artists must maintain self censorship while being on air. We do exercise discipline and refrain from triggering controversies while going on air. The RJs or voice over artists should maintain a self censorship and draw a line between sensibilities and humour....

Raju Shrivastav, who co-hosted Big FM's breakfast show with RJ Archana, mentions that as radio is an audio medium, the content has to have elements of comedy, satire to engross listeners. Healthy comedy in any form is acceptable but radio stations must observe sensitivity and caution while broadcasting. Although radio as a medium has been spoofing personalities from long, it is only now that it has been questioned...  

Echoes Jose, Much of our talk on our show on Red FM is impromptu and we do it aesthetically so as not to offend anybody. The radio station trusts us on the content we broadcast so we make sure we have to careful not to cross the line....

Several programmers however say Sunny Deol is justified in taking the legal route, as the spoof was not in good taste and showed the characters in poor light, they say.

Sparklers are usually outsourced to a production house or produced in-house by radio stations to cut costs. The production houses charge around Rs. 5000-10,000 for producing a single sparkler. Normally, 80 sparklers stretching over three months are created by the production house.

Some years ago,  Radio City's â€?Santa Banta' series was targeted by a regional political party from Punjab saying the series hurt their sentiments and it was pulled off air. Since then, largely, the spoofs have gone uncriticised, till Deol took umbrage at being caricaturised. Will the spoof survive the onslaught?

Watch this space for developments.