In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, silent rebel Andy Dufrense upset the whos who of prison authorities by playing mesmerising Mozart on the jail loudspeakers, exclusively meant for official announcements for the inmates. He might have faced the harshest penalty thereafter, but had the place been Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai, the scenario might have turned out different. As part of their prisoner rehabilitation programme, Taloja Central Prison operates an in-house radio station – of the inmates, by the inmates and for the inmates. TLCP, expanded as Taloja Central Prison Radio, is the first such instance in the history of the nation, reports The Times of India.
How the radio show happened
Presently, the radio hosts a one hour show every day at noon – from 12 to 1 PM, featuring classic Bollywood musical numbers, interspersed with a beautiful script. The team of three in charge of the station comprises a technician, a scriptwriter and radio jockey Sadiq, who is serving his sentence for an illegal arms case.
Jail Superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar reveals that the idea of a prison radio station had been on their minds for quite a while. They drew inspiration from popular actor Sanjay Dutt’s tryst as an RJ in Pune’s Yerawada Jail a few years ago, when he was imprisoned in a case related to the Mumbai serial blasts of 1993.
For Taloja prison, lack of technical accessibility was the main roadblock, until NGO Prison Ministry of India provided them with a laptop, sound mixer and a microphone. Sound engineer Rajesh Anand from the NGO also joined the TLCP team to look after the technical requirements.
“Music reaches the soul and acts as a stress buster for prisoners,” Kurlekar reiterates the need for prisoners to enjoy the creative side of life.
From love songs to Shayari
The show began from January 15 this year. Every day, a particular theme is selected in advance for the daily show. Be it love, happiness, the meaning of life – the team curates a perfect script and chooses songs accordingly from an extensive database of 70,000 old Hindi movie songs. The content for the day is filtered through the prison authorities before going live. The small room from where the radio operates used to be a former watch post. Now, instead of vigilant eyes of stern officials, soulful music emanates from there. Even the promotion of the radio show is done entirely by the involved inmates. Pillai, an inmate with a flair for art, designs the posters, banners and logo for the show.
At the stroke of the noon, Kishore Kumar or Mohammed Rafi’s magical voice enthrals the prison premises only to be supplemented by the talented scriptwriter’s poetic words. The 3,152 present male inmates of the prison are absolutely delighted with the show. Needless to say, 12 to 1 PM has become their favourite hour of the day.
The ‘Aap Ki Farmaish’ segment of the show which entertains song requests from the listeners always finds a huge audience, as everyone eagerly waits to hear their name and their requested song. A prison officer also informed that there have been requests for ‘Shayaris’ as well.
Efforts For Good take
Music can melt boundaries – so goes the popular saying. At Taloja Central Prison, music is melting the iron bars of solitude and guilty conscience and transforming souls that regret erring once. Efforts For Good applauds the initiative by the prison authorities and wishes more prisons throughout the country follow suit.