After regaling their fans on the big screen, many Bollywood celebrities have now started sprinkling their stardom inside radio studios, playing roles as varied as love guru, hands-on parent, or even agony aunt.
Many films in the past have already broached the issue. Like Salaam Namaste (2005), which shows Ambar, a medical student in Melbourne portrayed by Preity Zinta, supporting her education by working as a regular morning show host at the radio station ‘Salaam Namaste’. And who can forget the "Good morrrniiing, Mumbai!" greeting from Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) with Vidya Balan as radio jockey RJ Jahnvi. The actress subsequently went on to play RJ Sulu, the host of a late night relationship advice show in 2017 film Tumhari Sulu.
Among the B-town biggies who have made the transition from reel-time to real-time RJs are Karan Johar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Neha Dupia and Vidya Balan, with a few more in the fray.
Are these purely celebrity shows or is there a hidden motive behind them?
Commenting on the trend of Bollywood celebrities turning radio jockeys, Indian ad guru Prahlad Kakkar says, "I think everybody has understood that radio has a huge reach. There are a lot of people who can’t afford television, yet can afford a radio and listen to music, news and shows."
The industry has realised the importance of radio as an important tool to communicate."
Karan Johar, also known as KJo is widely regarded as the king of talk shows where he and his guest celebrities go candid over a cup of coffee. Karan plays love guru on show Calling Karan which airs on Ishq 104.8 FM and provides a platform to express problems pertaining to love and relationships. He is best known for drawing on experiences from his own life and giving straight-up, crisp and to-the-point advice.
The show also has a reverse rapid fire round, where the listeners get to ask KJo whatever they feel like with regards to relationships, break ups etc. While the show has wrapped up its second season, fans are hopeful that there is a third one down the line.
In 2016, actress Neha Dhupia took to hosting a radio show on Indian Music App Saavn titled #NoFilterNeha. On the show, she chats with her friends and digs out stories that have never been heard before. The show received great reviews with over 2.3 million listeners, prompting the actress to return with a third season in October 2018.
The other prominent B-town celebrity who is currently dominating the airwaves is Kareena Kapoor Khan, who has a show titled What Women Want, featuring conversations with celebrities while encouraging women to break barriers and pre-conceived notions.
Ask why she wanted to do this show, and Kareena says, "There is very little importance given to what women actually want even today, and I am glad to have got an opportunity to be a part of a radio show which aims to talk about it and promote the same." In its short course, the show has gained immense popularity as it deals with a wide range of topics from women handling divorces to tips for motherhood.
Meanwhile, Vidya Balan is also getting ready to host her own chat show on radio channel Big FM 92.7 from March called Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho with Vidya Balan. The show is likely to feature conversations with celebrities and challenge stereotypes usually associated with women. It is believed Vidya will also share some of her experiences with the invitees.
An excited Vidya Balan says, "After having played several interesting characters in my film career including being an RJ twice, I am really looking forward to being a radio jockey in real life and directly connecting with people through this medium. The show’s concept is bound to create positive conversations around current social developments and changes. I am glad to have this opportunity to encourage a positive mindset by reaching out to millions through 92.7 BIG FM."
With radio reaching almost 90 per cent of the population, the film industry seems to have caught on to the importance of this medium. "People in rural areas already go to the movies. But if Bollywood celebs are able to gather a fan following through this medium also, they can become even more desirable. When you are a star and you announce a film as it releases, you instantly get a very good fan following. But in rural areas, the preferred medium is radio and not television," explains Kakkar.