When you spend time with Mukesh Patel and Neelima Bhula from Aakashwani Bharat Bhavan it is immediately apparent they are deeply passionate about their work and know each other extremely well. And this is hardly surprising, seeing as, along with Beena Patel, the three of them have hosted their radio show together for over 20 years.
‘I came in as a filler to read the news,’ says Mukesh, ‘and then never left.’
‘And I filled in for Mukesh,’ says Neelima, ‘and then I never left!’
The programme began in 1992 and came out of the Wellington Indian Association’s AGM.
‘There was a need for something to promote, foster and further our voice, our culture, and our community,’ says Neelima. ‘We care about our community and we are proud to be entertaining them. We also want to ensure we pass on our rich heritage to our younger generation and contribute to making Aotearoa a truly multi-cultured society.’
Over thirty years later the programme is still going strong, filling their loyal listeners in on local and overseas news, community events and sports, mixed with a wide range of Gujarati, Hindi, and devotional music.
The programme also features interviews with people such as the Indian High Commissioner, the president of the Indian Association, cricketers, musicians, and people in the community.
One of the highlights for Neelima is the live shows they used to do at the Diwali celebrations in Civic Square. ‘We just had an old mobile phone which we used to send the sound back to someone in the studio,’ she remembers. She also enjoys the reunion shows where they bring back the ‘original cast’ - those that started Aakashwani all those years ago. ‘It is their legacy we are continuing.’
Mukesh has enjoyed being the newsreader of the team and has found that there has been a lot of interest in his reports of the prices of gold and silver, and the exchange rate with the rupee and NZ dollar. ‘Diwali is a time where people often buy gold,’ Mukesh explains, ‘so there is always interest around that time.’
The programme has a strong base of listeners who often send messages or come up and speak to the presenters when they see them at events. One piece of feedback that they have taken to heart is something they heard early on in their presenting career.
‘Someone said to me “we can’t see you, but we can hear you smile,”’ says Neelima. ‘I have always remembered that and make sure I have a smile on my face when we start the show. There is always a lot of laughing and giggling!’
You can listen to Aakashwani Bharat Bhavan on Mondays from 6-7pm at Wellington Access Radio 106.1fm, or steam via www.accessradio.org.nz.
For previous episodes of the programme go to https://www.accessradio.org.nz/aakashwani-bharat-bhavan.html
Follow Aakashwani Bharat Bhavan on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/ABBWellington
Aakashwani Bharat Bhavan is proudly supported by the Wellington Indian Association.