INDIA. Mumbai: Veteran news anchor and commentator Pradeep Bhide, associated with Mumbai Doordarshan for over four decades, passed away after a prolonged illness due to brain cancer on Tuesday.
He was 68 and is survived by his wife Sujata, a son, and a daughter. On Tuesday evening, his last rites were performed at Parshiwda crematorium at Andheri East in northwest Mumbai. A large number of media persons were present.
Beginning his career as a trainee production assistant with Mumbai Doordarshan after it started on October 2, 1972, he switched on to news reading in 1974. He shaped newscast in its formative years and handled the news reading assignments until 2016.
During the eighties and nineties, when the Doordarshan was the only audio-visual electronic format, he had become a household face and his trademark ‘Namaskar, Aajchya Thalak Batmya’ (Namaskar, Today’s News Headlines) became a household greeting for the generations of viewers of the evening Marathi news bulletin.
With a commanding screen presence, a clear baritone voice, and an engaging style, he also anchored special shows on Mumbai DD (which was later renamed “DD Sahyadri”), a regional channel. He was much sought for the periodical state or national elections programs or the results and political analysis post-polls that were watched avidly.
Bhide hailed from the Marathi stage and had acted in some of the experimental plays staged by veteran playwright Ratnakar Matkari. Dilip Prabhavalkar, Vasant Soman, and Ravi Patwardhan were his co-artists. As such, he had no stage fear. This benefitted him while reading news bulletins.
His father Jagannath and mother Subhalkashmi were teachers in Rayat Shikshan Sanstha set up by Karmveer Bhaurao Patil. Since they were shifted to the schools located at different places from time to time, Pradeep Bhide had to pursue his education in different schools located in villages of Maharashtra.
His parents were adept at Marathi. Sanskrit and Hindi and “Vishnu Sahasranamam’ was recited daily at home. The recitation of “Vishnu Sahasranamam” helped him in voice modulation, Bhide had said in one of the earlier interviews. After SSC, he did B.Sc in Pune and later completed a journalism course from the Ranade Institute of Communications, Pune.
He worked in the corporate communications department in companies including Hindustan Lever and e-Merck before shifting full-time to Doordarshan. Later, he set up his own media company, ‘Pradeep Bhide Communications’, which produced short, advertising films, and documentaries, and for many of them, he provided the voice-over. However, he simultaneously continued to handle news reading assignments for Doordarshan.
He was the anchor for the swearing-in ceremony of the first-ever Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government held at Shivaji Park in Central Mumbai in 1995. He also hosted the oath-taking ceremony of the BJP-Shiv Sena government in 2014 at Wankhede Stadium in South Mumbai, besides covering other Government events. He worked in the media for nearly 40 years.
When the situation was volatile and riots were anticipated after former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in Sriperumbudur (Tamil Nadu) on the night of May 21, 1991, Bhide was summoned to read the news bulletin the following day. Eventually, he reached Mumbai Doordarshan in a police jeep at 6.30 am.
In another incident, when the normal traffic was disrupted after the Mumbai serial bomb blasts on March 12, 1993, Bhide walked from his residence in Andheri up to Worli in South Central Mumbai to reach the Mumbai Doordarshan studios at 5.30 pm to read evening news bulletin, his colleagues recalled.
Several prominent personalities include Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the opposition leader in Maharashtra Assembly Devendra Fadnavis, NCP MP Supriya Sule. Shiv Sena leaders condoled the demise of Bhide, terming it as the ‘end of an era.’
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