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How TV changed my life
For nearly a year now, I have been hosting a show called ‘Pudhuppunal’ on India’s national TV Doordarshan’s Podhigai channel. It has been an absolutely wonderful experience and it has changed my life! Here’s how:

I belong to a family of nerds. I have probably always been the least nerdy of them all. I remember a time when the only television set we had at home was a small, black and white portable thing. It had an antenna that was about five feet long that we had to extend out of the house, in the hope that it would catch some semblance of a signal. Most of the time it wouldn't. We would watch the random black, white and grey spots that appeared on the screen and try our best to figure out what was happening. Which wasn't too difficult, considering the fact that we did not have a cable connection - there were only two channels, DD National and DD Metro.

A typical TV-watching session would invariably be like this:

It would be 8 pm and my dad would want to watch the news on DD National. So he'd switch on the TV, which of course, would display a random set of black, white and grey spots and some distorted signals that would run across the screen. There was no question of using the TV like a radio, because there would be a permanent white noise, until the five-feet long antenna caught the signal alright. So one of us would do our best to angle the antenna - we would bend it this way and that, angle it at 30 deg, 45 deg, 75 deg, even 32.67, until at some point, we would be able to make out vaguely what was happening on the TV screen. On some days, we would just give up and switch off the TV. Dad would read the news the next morning from The Hindu.

Also, my family was (and is) so nerdy that we never, ever, went out to a movie together. So, here I was, from a family that had never watched TV or movies, with no knowledge about any TV soap or block buster movie…sometimes, I found it difficult to make conversation with classmates in school because I would have NO idea what they were talking about! :D

When I grew up, I developed an interest in a plethora of things and did (and do) not have much time to watch TV or movies. In my 22 years, I have been to the theater about six times, the last time being in 2008. I’m sure I would like TV and movies if I did watch them, but I would invariably feel guilty for having wasted a few hours of my life, so I don’t.

With that background about my TV and movie watching experience, let me tell you how I got to be on TV myself.

Looking back, I cannot call it anything but a quirk of fate. In January last year, I got a call from someone in Doordarshan asking me to come over to their office. They had heard of me through a sabha secretary. They wanted me to do some music related interviews “on and off”. So I went, with a copy of my resume’ and a couple of studio photos. They seemed interested. I was immediately introduced to Mr. Bharathi, who was the producer of the show they wanted me to do. I had no idea that it was a regular show or that it was going to be entirely mine, until he fed me the details. It was to be a weekly one-hour show on up-and-coming musicians, to be telecast every Wednesday at prime time. He gave me the freedom to conceptualize the show, call guests, do my own research, prepare my own script and deliver it the way I want. I am very grateful to him for the freedom he has given me – something I cannot expect from anyone else. My producer, as I realized soon, is a wonderful person.

When I got back home that day from the Doordarshan office, I was skeptical about my dad's reaction. In a house where watching TV is taboo (although we now have a colour TV set with a cable connection), I had no idea if he would allow me to emote in front of the camera! Surprisingly, he seemed to like the idea himself! "So long as you don't have to shout "Stay tuned to XYZ program on Podhigai TV! Let's now take a short breeeeeeaaaak!" every few mins, I don't have a problem!"

So I said OK to Doordarshan. Shooting started in January last year during my end-sem study holidays. The show went on air on February 11th 2009. It is almost a year old now. Almost everyone in the music field has seen it. I have received numerous congratulatory emails, messages and phone calls. So has Doordarshan. Every time I’m in a gathering of TamBrahms or music rasikas, scores of people come up to me to congratulate, talk or ask for my autograph. If I travel by PTC bus, people offer to carry my bag! I get discounts in places where I shop, without my asking for it! Sometimes, the popularity and the adulation is fun, but at other times, it gets embarrassing!

I have loved every single moment I have spent in front of the camera. I so totally love meeting people. I love doing my bit for what I'm passionate about - Carnatic music. It has been great fun and I hope to continue saying “Neyargale Vanakkam!” into the camera, with a huge smile and folded hands, many many more times! :)

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Please watch the movie 3 idiots. It is all about passion and life.

Anonymous, I'll try!

Re: Movie

I am not a TV buff or a regular movie goer. I hardly watch movies or tv.I am quite a hardworking individual.However, i do watch movies that have a good message. For instance, laksh or even PAA. I dont think we need to hate watching tv or going to a movie or for that matter doing other activities in order to focus on carnatic music.. i am an ardent fan of CM. But, if you watch 3 idiots you will know what i mean.. I think every Indian should watch this movie..incl kids and seniors.


You and I share a similar upbringing. My count of movies in India is three :)

Congratulations on your show. Very happy for you :)

Lol, three?! Like I always say, "sooper"! :D

And thanks! :)

don't repent for not watching tv, so that only you were able to concentrate like this and gain something in life

Hi Deepa,

No, I'm NOT repenting at all! I have almost zero motivation to watch TV, and I totally love everything I do. :)

"I’m sure I would like TV and movies if I did watch them, but I would invariably feel guilty for having wasted a few hours of my life, so I don’t."

I think many people underestimate the value movies add to our lives. From trashy Govinda comedy stuff to vague, black-and-white, subtitled, European movies, I've learnt something from all of them. Film is a sophisticated art-form, and a really good movie has as much to offer as a really good kacheri, I think...

What have you learnt from the not-so-great movies you've watched, especially "trashy Govinda comedy stuff"? Now, that's a real serious question - no sarcasm intended.

PS: Read quite a bit of your blog. Dude, you're an amazing writer! :)

From trashy Govinda movies I have gained the following:

1. Sharpening of my sense of humour. I think they have some really good jokes. And from Govinda himself, I have learnt the importance of timing, pause, poise, delivery etc.
2. Confidence in myself. Often I think I'm the only one with weird thoughts. It is comforting to know that there are other people (like Govinda and David Dhawan) who get such ideas.
3. The Golden Age of Govinda (mid-to-late nineties) has given me a great understanding of the mass audience and what they like. Helps with my music also.

The other not-so-great movies have their advantages. 'Baatsha' is not a great movie by any standard, but it is dripping with throwaway philosophy, insights on how power works, and a hilarious image of Rajnikanth's hand being kissed be various people while his other hand is stroking a large dog.

Also, movies are a fairly accurate index of a people. I think I owe a lot of my understanding of Tamilians (I am one, but I've never lived here until now) to Tamil films. Most of them trashy :)

PS: Thanks. Leave a comment there next time :P

I think I can kinda understand your point #1. Unable to relate to the rest, coz of my lack of experience.

But I'm going to watch a couple of movies sometime soon and see if any of the following happens:

1. I enjoy them without counting the no. of hours spent.
2. I learn something, like you say you do.
3. I give up my moviephobia and start watching them more frequently.

PS: Have left a comment in your blog :)

Greetings Nivedita,

You're doing a great job in Pudhu Punal & Maithreem Bhajatha!!!

Just bumped into your blog today and saw you were collecting info on teachers.I am in B'lore and am looking for Violin tutors in South B'lore area-have learnt for 2+ yrs thus far.

Let me know if you want to take this on mail.


Hi Prasanna,

Thank you! :)

That project got stalled due to various reasons and the list of teachers we have now is rather inadequate.

The best way for you to find a good teacher in your area would be to post your requirement in rasikas.org/forum. You will definitely find a good teacher.

Best Wishes,

Great Show !!

Great Show !! And hats of to DD too !!



Thank you very much! And yes, DD is doing a great job! :)

Harikatha by Suchitra

I'd like to leave a small comment on today's (10/3/2010) Pudu Punal show.

Spellbinding. Blessed with a clear ringing voice and eloquence, Suchitra was simply marvellous. I watched the show with rapt attention.

Many thanks to you and DD for such a lovely programme. Please keep up the good work; and also ... a very nice blog if i may say so.

Would love to see this episode on YouTube if possible.

Thanks and Best Wishes,

- Mahesh

Re: Harikatha by Suchitra

I also saw a program of Suchitra yesterday in PODHIKAI. Highly impressed I am. I would like to congratulate Suchitra and invite her for a program. Can any one kindly help me with Suchitra's telephone number?
Anantraman on 11th Mar 2010

Re: Harikatha by Suchitra

Hello Anantraman, please email me at niveditadotnarayananatgmaildotcom and I could help you.

Re: Harikatha by Suchitra

Hello Mahesh, thank you very much for watching the show and taking the time to post a comment here. :)

Please do continue to watch and provide feedback, if you can.

Thanks & Regards,

Vishweshwar and the Night Owl !

Allow me to post comments on your last two PudhupPunal episodes. If you would like us to post comments on PudhupPunal elsewhere, please let us know. N. Vishweshwar (21/4/2010) Watched Vishweshwar's flute recital on PudhupPunal. Very nice programme once again. I must say it was difficult chosing between watching PP and IPL. "Little vish" is certainly a precocious, lively and cool kid. He is certainly blessed with the gift of music. Renditions were nice. Accompanists gelled well too. Radha Sameta and Katrinile were good choices and melodious. He was at ease both while playing and while answering your questions. Loved your interviewing style as usual. Rapid Fire round was a nice addition. Your closing remarks to the programme were very nicely worded. Once again, well done.
R. Sridhar (28/4/2010) This was an interesting character. His must be the height of devotion to music. Bhakthi. Love of Music for music's sake. Sridhar says he practises during the night and his desire is to become a 'quality violinist'; nothing else. I was deeply impressed. On a lighter vein, i hope he has his practising area sound-proofed or else he sure has some very annoyed neighbours. On the otherhand though he seemed a very hard-nut to interview. Most of the questions were answered in two or less sentences. Geekish behaviour perhaps. Begging him to play 'oh podu' was a bit funny. Nice interviewing as always. As usual nice closing remarks from you. Well done. PS: Why wasn't there a RapidFire this time. It was a nice addition. (I would like to suggest/recommend to you a certain programme that appears on Sony Pix. It is called 'In the Actors Studio' or ITAS for short, where one Mr. James Lipton interviews leading actors and actresses. One section of ITAS is a kind of rapid fire round. It sure spices up the programme. Another similar one is Karan Johar's 'Koffee with Karan'.) And finally if possible please request Doordarshan to continue with their repeat telecasts on Thursday's. They seem to have stopped it. - mahesh

Re: Vishweshwar and the Night Owl !

Dear Mahesh,

Thank you very much for taking the time to post your comments. You can continue to post them here.

It is a challenging, but enjoyable task to strike a rapport with the people I interview (a significant proportion of whom I have never meet before) and get them comfortable enough to answer with ease during the shoot. I love challenges, especially when they relate to music! :)

I did receive plenty of good comments for the rapid fire round in Visweswar's episode, but the rapid fire round is not a permanent feature. I frame my questions based on the interviewee's age, knowledge, comfort-level, etc.

About the repeat telecast -- I will put in a word with my producer, though I'm afraid show timings may not be in his hands.

Thanks once again for your feedback.

PudhupPunal 2010.

Watched Solomon's Synergy troupe on PudupPunal yesterday night. I wonder if it was a retelecast. Anyway it was very entertaining. So also was Rajna Swaminathan's mridangam show about a month back. I thought that was a first time telecast but again i could be wrong.

I have two questions.

1) For sometime now we've only seen retelecasts on PudupPunal. When will you be back with new artistes. I hope all is well. Your blog too has been inactive for a long while.

2) Has Synergy released any albums. If so could you give any details vis-as-vis title and availability in chennai.

Thank you.

best regards,

- mahesh

m v swaroop show 11/8/2010.

This episode was very enjoyable. More than the music the interview was hilarious.

Thank you very much.

- mahesh

maharajapuram ganesh viswanathan

paati sollai thattathey. :)


Vazhakkamana closure "... neyargal saarbagavum, doordarshan saarbagavum ... " part was missing (?).

Hope to get passes for atleast some shows at sangeetha coffee chat ...

- mahesh

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