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Interviews |  03 Jul 2018 12:57 |  By Zinal Dedhia

'Yadoon Ka Idiot Box' by Neelesh Misra returns to BIG FM

Storytelling has been a tradition in India for decades. Stories and tales before bedtime was every child’s routine. Not keeping it limited to childhood seven years ago Neelesh Misra came up with the concept of storytelling on radio which then became a routine for the avid BIG FM listeners.

Neelesh Misra was associated with BIG FM for four years and entertained the listeners with various stories. After a short break, the story-telling is back home with a new season and some exciting stories.

In an interview with Radioandmusic, Neelesh Misra shares insights about his story-telling career, set of writers called mandli and of course the new season.

You re-defined story-telling on radio. What do you have to say about it?

When I started this journey, I literally didn’t know what I was getting into. Never did storytelling or never wrote stories. I think that became my strength because nobody ever told me how it is done and I tumbled around and discovered my own way into this. I am grateful to millions of people who responded to it and looking back this will not be a surprise as India has a story-telling tradition. But, I believe as a community we have forgotten about story-telling and I feel the need to deliver stories like a postman.

How different will the fifth season of Yadoon Ka Idiot Box be?

We definitely will be experimenting with new genres. But we are very firm about not letting go the feel of the show. There have been changes in the small towns, relationships and many moving to metro’s but one is still close to the roots. So, these things will be the same but we will be experimenting with humour.We need to bring back well-written humour. Suspense and ghost stories will also be a part of this show, even though I am personally scared of ghost stories.

I believe the shows on radio are directly cherished, irrelevant, sexist and stereotypical. Our stories never objectify or stereotype on the basis of gender, colour or which part of the country they are from.

How is the feeling of returning to BIG FM?

My sole journey began with BIG FM. It was Tarun Katial’s idea to start a storytelling show. How it all started is an interesting story. I had an album Rewind with my band ‘Band Called Nine’. It was a story-telling band in the form of music that had Shilpa Rao, composer Amartya Rahut and me. We approached BIG FM with a partnership for our album and that’s when Tarun asked if I could do a story-telling radio show. I said I have never done radio but I can tell stories. That is how my entire journey began on radio.

How do you look at the Yadoon Ka Idot Box journey over the years?

I really liked the way it is shaped up. Season 5 comes at a very interesting point because India is dramatically changing and bring the audience to the roots of tradition of India by stories, I think that is the soul of Yaadon Ka Idiot Box which is contemporary, now, young and does not let go of our tradition and relationships that are often unspoken.

I have written the first story ‘Dusra Pyaar’ of Season 5, well I hadn’t written for years now. I am happy, nervous, excited and hoping to write as often as I can for Yadoon Ka Idiot Box as this will be the only show I would be writing for.

Tell us about your ‘mandli’.

I wrote all the stories in the first season. Later, there were a set of writers who approached and I said I do not buy stories, but we can collaborate and write together. We started with one or two and then a team was formed. It was every Monday morning when the team gathered at my place in Mumbai and days and nights we used to discuss stories. The mandli then was called Monday Mandli. Later I moved to Lucknow and we come together through video conference every week.

The Mandli is a set of writers across the country who write stories for Yadoon Ka Idiot Box. It is amazing that the writers in my team are from different cities, professions and backgrounds and I think that is the richness of the show. The structure is that one person reads the story and everybody after listening has to comment about it in detail because I believe critical appreciation makes you a better writer. It is very difficult for writers to not have ego, so I make sure they all keep their shoes and egos outside the room.

Fans must have been waiting for you to come back. Did they contact you on social media after the fourth season?

There has not been a single day that I haven’t received a message on Facebook asking when I am coming back. As we never had an answer to it, I left the questions unanswered, which I feel guilty about. But now that we are back, I am happy the avid listeners will get an answer when they get to know about this. Not only this, our stories have helped to get a smile to the cancer patients and more. We have received thousands of mails in the past six years.

What are the plans/strategies of the fifth season?

We know that we have a loyal audience in the country, they follow us wherever we go. So, our plan has always been to write better. We just want to work really hard on our stories. There is no other show on radio in the country that creates so much original content.  We have spent weeks to write one story and this amount of hard work is not seen in history of radio and I am very proud of my mandli who have worked so preciously with me.

As a storyteller, I will be challenging myself and keep changing characters. The point is I do not want to get bored of what I am doing.