Radhakrishnan Nair, a man who taught many how to write well: Mehraj Dube
Mehraj Dube, Vice President-Marketing, Zee Media, had worked with late Radhakrishnan Nair as a trainee. He remembers how Nair guided him during his initial years in journalism
“Hmm…. How many days in office so far? What is it that you are writing today?” He would ask me. A smiling face, casually sitting in chair with his shirt hanging out, would suddenly turn into a sniper of some kind. His eyeballs stopping to move, piercing through his desktop gazing at my news copy. The razor-sharp editor in him would turn the stammering-Hindi-thinking-English lines into a swift contemporary news script, fit for the suave screens of the then newest sensation of Indian business television -- CNBC India.
This was a newsroom like no other. There would be Raghav (Bahl) walking on the twinkling tiles with a silver stick. And I would hesitantly look at him, my new super boss & founder of TV18. Little did anyone know that his steps would turn him into a tycoon and will someday attract the biggest tycoon of them all to pour his silver too. Cut back to newsroom, Shereen (Bhan) would be walking out of the studio with her Barbie hair lavishly polished in gold, carried as if it was part of the brief to not move it. And she carried it well. Carried her head on her shoulder through two decades so well that she would be christened as Managing Editor of the success called CNBCTV18.
Turn to the glass wall, Udayan (Mukherjee) would be coming out of the studio. His hair pasted under gel, so well as if layers of a private equity deal. All of them would terminate their walk around the desk - the desk manned by Radhakrishnan Nair. He is the most ordinary man but not the most ignorable. Radha sir is now smiling again and looking away from my copy to hear the conversation - a thread that will last through the afternoon till John and Dipika would take over for a show to be presented by veteran Senthil (Chengalvarayan). Everyone would have one name on their lips - Radha.
In the crowd of stalwarts, Radha sir would smell like the soil back home - something I left behind in my ride to find the elite of Delhi. Radha sir was giving me a hope that this elite circle wasn’t out of reach for me. It didn’t deny anyone an entry. Certainly not to immigrant aspirants like the one he himself was and the one he was instilling in me.
Months later (in 2001), he would do my first appraisal in a news job. Couple of drinks down, but not missing a point- “See there are marks for details, you must develop an eye for that.” I would say thanks and I still say. Thanks for showing me early the significance of details.
Years later, he would pat on my back and say congrats man. I would burst into joy and hug him as I have just won an award. “I would tell people I have worked with this guy, good job Mehraj” Radha sir said. And he disappeared. By then, he was part of a fast-changing television world. Raghav would invest in Rajdeep (Sardesai) and partner with CNN, and Radha would help them at the front. “Oh, Radha sir is editing general news now?” I would ask, and his colleagues would reply with ease, as if he was made for it. “I thought of him as someone made for business news” I mutter. Radha sir indeed would not stop learning and changing with times. He could survive the old and the new, tycoons, editors and entrepreneurs alike. He would continue to be a professional.
And my last meeting with him - in the setting of a Poonawalas’ wedding. Walking in his standard style amid who’s who of Delhi. Narrating stories, admiring people, not bending either side. On his feet, like a professional.
Radha sir! I got up from my bed in the middle of the night to write this. All of them - elite or no elite - must be in tears today. I cannot hold it too. This time you won’t edit my copy, I can write a word or two about you though. Excellent copy Radha sir! You have lived a million words!
(Mehraj Dube is a former journalist and broadcaster who worked with late Radhakrishnan Nair as a trainee. He currently works with Zee Media as Vice President, Marketing)
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