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Posted at: Jul 11, 2019, 6:41 AM; last updated: Jul 11, 2019, 6:41 AM (IST)

The news, read by ‘Borun’ Haldar

The news, read by ‘Borun’ Haldar
Photo: facebook

Sumit Paul

THIS is All India Radio. The news, read by Barun Haldar...’ The name, pronounced as ‘Borun’ in that typical Bengali accent, was hard to miss.

The magnificently textured baritone has fallen silent, forever. One of the doyens of radio newscasting in India, he breathed his last in Kolkata recently. Connoisseurs of the radio era will never forget the voices of some of the newscasters that captivated the listeners for years. Surojit Sen, Sushil Javeri, Vijay Daniels and Barun Haldar in English and Devakinandan Pandey and Anadi Mishra in Hindi had a remarkable voice along with an unquestionable command of the language.

Though every newscaster had his own distinct style, Haldar stood out because of his perfect diction, enunciation, pauses and nuances. His voice had an astounding clarity and the baritone didn’t grate on the ears. Those were the days when Indian parents would urge their children to listen to Haldar, Javeri and Sen to imbibe the subtle nuances of the English language and also to learn the pronunciation of certain words. In the 70s and 80s, the students of English literature at Presidency College, Calcutta, and St Stephen’s, Delhi, would try to emulate the way Haldar pronounced ‘news’ and ‘radio’. 

He would often compose the news script before reading it out in the studio. I once asked him in Calcutta how he perfected his diction. He said it was simple. He read the news script or even a newspaper a bit loud so that he could hear his own voice. “What’s good to your ears should be good to the ears of the listeners too,” was his mantra.

‘One must love one’s voice’ was his unfailing advice to those who wanted to become a newscaster like him. He was never condescending. “I’m also a learner and make mistakes. So, I’ve no right to look down upon anyone,” the self-effacing newscaster would say.

In this era of hysterical news-reading, Haldar’s dignified style is missed all the more by those who have heard the very best in the pre-news channels days. Always engrossed in classics, Haldar loved to read and discuss the characters of famous novels with like-minded people. He exhorted the youngsters to read and write a lot and would often jokingly say that the correct orthography of his name should be ‘Varun’ and not ‘Barun’ or ‘Borun’.  “But we Bengalis don’t have a labio-dental ‘V’ in our written and spoken Bengali,” he’d chuckle. Always willing to help the newcomers, he was very accessible. He loved listening to Frank Sinatra in English and Debobrata Biswas’ rendition of Rabindra Sangeet. He was an epicurean. 

Adieu, ‘Borun’ Haldar! Old-timers like me will sorely miss you.

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