Saturday, May 16

Top 10 tips to host Rahman Ungaludan (92.7 BIG FM)

If you have read the previous post of mine, discussing the under rated A R Rahman songs, You could've guessed that I was a regular listener (completely forced BTW, not voluntary) of Rahman Ungaludan Show that airs on BIG FM (92.7 FM Manasa thotta melodies ... that one) during my commute to and from work.

Anuradha Sriram, the current host of Rahman Ungaludan

For regular listeners you would know that the show is, pardon my french, la shit, which when translated to English means, wait for it, shit. For people who are using Google translate to find the actual french word for shit, I appreciate your scatological sense of curiosity.  The show offers nothing new, no interesting insights and frankly it is as useless the judges of Maanaada Mayilaada (except Kalaakka who is our doling [to be read as darling]).

Dance Master Kala akka -host of maanaada mayilada in Kalaignar TV- aka doling

So here are my top 10 tips if you ever end up behind the mic hosting the show. Seriously go and apply. It's the easiest job you can find second only to the Vice President of India.

Note: If you manage to end up behind the mic after reading this, you owe me big time.

10 - Start with a song: This is typically the beginning of the programme right? So you basically have to start with a song. The preference is generally Ilayaraaja song. But it can also include Sankar Ganesh, Chandrabose etc. What? Isn’t this Rahman Ungaludan? Which means shouldn't it be a Rahman song? Well that's a sensible question but it isn't applicable to this show. Cos it is a revolutionary show. So revolutionary that people get confused and start doing a meta-analysis along the lines of - "Wait!! Does that say Rahman started from the school of Ilayaraaja or something?” . Nevertheless leave it to the analyzing geniuses. We just want to carry on with the show.

Music director Sankar Ganesh, behind a mic

9 - Greeting the listeners: The next step is greeting the listeners. The rule is you can say whatever you want, like hello or hey or vanakkam, but you always should follow that by addressing the listeners as "isai rasigargaley" with special emphasis on "sai" and "ga". Yes it should be made very clear to the listeners from the start that “if you're not a music enthusiast and you just want to listen to the show to hear some good songs (:P ... good luck with that) then this program is not for you. eff off”. How dare they come and listen to the show that is all about the in-depth analysis of Rahman's music and his musical genius (tongue still glued to cheek).

8 - Introduce yourself: Now the most important part is the introduction. You always have to call yourself "ungal abhimaana " irrespective of whether you are in the "abhimaanam" of the listeners or not. Hey its radio right? There is no way the listeners can talk back to you. The best part about the show is, there is no call-in segment. So listeners can no way reach you. Talk any non-sense you want about yourself and you can get away with it. You can even say Rahman is your one-drop-uncle-son (onnu vitta chithappa payyan) and it wouldn’t matter. Also don't forget to call yourself "celebrity host" every now and then. You know what, call yourself "superstar celebrity rockstar maverick" host, who cares? (As long as you don't have call in segment)

7 - Segue into the show: As you would've observed, we already have 4 tips covering the beginning of the show and we haven't even gone into the show yet. That’s true, as the significant amount work required from the host is only in beginning portions and the rest are just ... you know ... "lololaikku". As we already discussed first (i.e. in 10th point ... Surreal I know) we are starting off with a song that is no way related to Rahman. The challenge here is you have to find the relation. One useful tip is you can say that the song you sang has the same raagam as a Rahman song. Like the song is in Senchurutti (which, last time I checked, was still a melakarta raagam) which is exactly the same raagam as ... err ... "No problem" in love birds. That sounds too technical? Well you can say that the thaalam of that song is same as that of the one in ... err ... "No problem" again. If all these are too technical then you can always use this ... "This is one of Rahman's favourite raagam". That's it. There is no way that any listener can verify that. You found a link and also now you are a musical genius.

A screenshot from music video of No Problem song from Love Birds

6 - Guest Introduction: Okay one of the simplest tasks in the entire program. This can be anybody. Literally anybody. Sometimes the channel will get you guests who might have some inside knowledge about Rahman in his early days (probably his family members and childhood friends) but most of the times it will be some random singer who would've hardly worked in 1 or 2 songs with Rahman. Heck sometimes it won't even be singer and it will be someone like Pravin Gandhi or Prasanth (yeah I know) who might've no idea why the hell they are on the show but still actively participate and discuss stuff that could be completely irrelevant like Scottish referendum or the performance of Shanumgapandiyan in Sagaaptham. But you don't have to worry. You managed to find a link between a random song and Rahman, how hard will this be? If you still find it hard you can always say words like "ever charming, ever likable, ever incredible, ever sweet, <insert any evers>" and say the guest's name. Again nobody will call-in and you are still safe.

Shanmugapandiyan, son of captain Vijayakanth, in a still from Sagaaptham movie

5 - Ask Question: Okay we are in the peak of the show. What? We haven't even started anything yet? No but also yes. This important segment of the show, just like any other radio show, involves asking question to the guest. Now don't be afraid. Hold the hand that is trembling with the other. Annen irukkenla. It's easy to get through this stage. All you need is 3 questions. Too much? Don’t worry... You can even have one and conduct a decent show. All you need to do is ask questions like How did you meet Rahman? And What was your experience? Etc. See. The most mundane and obvious questions, like something their friends might ask during their school reunion, is all that’s required. You don't have to ask anything musical or technical and if you do, I don’t know, you probably might ruin the sanctity of the show. In between you can also pepper-in some other questions like "how was it working with Simran?" Don’t be shocked. This is actually the question asked to Prasanth (I still don't know why he was the guest) which you might wonder in what possible way can find a place in show discussing the music of Rahman. Simple. They acted in Jodi ... err ... for which the music was done by ... yes you guessed it ... Rahman. Voila!! You really are a "superstar celebrity rockstar maverick" host.

Prasanth and Simran in a still from Jodi

4 - Let the guest answer: If you think this topic should be covered in the previous point itself ... ha ha ha ... you have so much to learn still. The unique feature of the programme is that, the question, and the answer to the question, belong to two different segments. Basically once you ask the question, it is mandatory to move to a song immediately. No, you are not supposed to wait for the guest to answer. So once you come back from the song which is sandwiched between the same 3 ads repeated one million times, you will already be one hour into the show. Yes… Miracles do happen. This is one of the simplest parts of the show, you just have to hear (note: not listen, just hear) and then do typical stuff that we as teenagers used to do when listening to an advice - Stare and nod. Now since this is a radio show you have to put in some "Ahn!"s and "Oh!"s here and there (Any SJ Suryah-isms is purely accidental. Speaking of which, he was featured on the show for promoting his film 'Isai' which also symbolically refers to ARR. hara hara meta-devki). Once you think the guest has answered move to another song. But what if you had only one question? Go to point 3. 

SJ Suryah in a still from the movie Isai

3 - Don't let the guest finish: One unwritten law that all shows try to abide is: entertain the audience. When it comes to radio, you want the listeners to stay as long as possible while the station stuffs them with ads continuously. The cheapest trick that the radio devil has ever pulled off was convincing the world that there is a suspense waiting on the flipside of the commercial break (See the “usual suspects” reference there. Irrelevant but this is how you can show your smartness). You can use the aforementioned rule (?!) to extend your program as long as you want by interrupting the guest's answer randomly in the middle and say stuffs like, as if you are addressing the listeners, "You wanna know what he said after that? Is he gonna say something controversial? Is he gonna do some name-dropping? huh? wanna know? huh? huh? ... listen to a song and come back". You might think that an average listener will be irritated with this format. No Shit Sherlock!!. But hey… this isn't a programme for average listeners. This is for "isai rasigargal"s. So don't worry about it. The average listener, by this time, is already screwed and has no idea what to do. Before you know it, you already have completed 2 hours in the show. Congrats!!

2 - Finishing touches with songs: Cakewalk segment. Once you come back, start singing a song. This time a Rahman song is preferred. If not, then no problem. Ask the guest to sing a song. What if he/she isn't a singer? Ahem!! Pravin Gandhi did the duty once and so did SJ Suryah (Can't imagine this song without auto tune). So there really is no concern here. Literally you can do anything you want. However, when you sing a song, try to make it a point that you take a very popular song and get the lyrics completely wrong. You aren't supposed to take any sort of effort towards learning or getting the lyrics right. Why you may ask but I will not answer. You at this point of time should know the path-breaking, mind-bending, spleen-ostracizing nature of this show. So your question is as pointless as India's FIFA ranking. You might think the fans might be angry but if they are true fans they would've switched off the radio way back.

1 - Rahman who? : This is the golden rule of the show. Before getting to that ask yourself this.

   Q: Who is this show about?

   A: Rahman ...

   Q: *buzzing noise* wrong!!

   A: It is… right? It says so in the name of the show

   Q: It might but that’s not the answer

   A: What are you talking about? It is A R Rahman right?

   Q: Getting warmer

   A: What do you mean warmer? Is it right or not?

   Q: It is not right but you're getting closer to the answer

   A: Am seriously lost... Please help me.

Okay okay ... enough with the metaphysics. I will help you. At any point in the show, try to remember this fact: the show is not about Rahman. It is about "Allah Rakha Rahman". Yes that’s how you should say it. You know why? Cos it shows that you know some inside info about the mysterious initials of AR Rahman. But fans already know this you may ask. "Isai Rasigargal" might not. Sometimes you can even get off with calling him just "Allah Rakha" as if he is your client at onsite whose first name is something that you are so fond of repeating at least once in every statement ("yes John! Okay John! Sorry John!"). Whatever it is, never call him just Rahman. It’s already there in the name of the show so don't be redundant. Duh!!

Cartoon of A R Rahman
I hope that this will clearly help you audition for the show if the current host gets sick or bored of her own compering. So "Isai Rasigargaley" are you game? (Come to think of it, does Isai rasigargaley also mean the people who enjoyed the movie "Isai" and thereby enjoying the meta -reference of "Rahman" in that? Before this post gets too meta and starts analyzing itself, let me just stop with a parenthesis)