Kumud Merani, is a living example of how an individual is never tired of work, if they are immensely in love with what they do. She’s an inspiration for many. For three decades Merani has worked with utmost sincerity and dedication as an amazing Producer/Broadcaster and she continues to work with the same enthusiasm and energy. The lady has won numerous awards and recognition and the number is increasing.
Kumud Merani, SBS- Hindi Executive Producer, has recently won a coveted recognition as finalist at the ‘The New York Festivals’ International Radio Program Awards that honoured the World’s Best Radio Programs . It is one of the toughest Radio Competitions wherein more than 35 countries made their submissions. It is here that Kumud’s much acclaimed Radio Documentary/Feature “The Story Untold” reached the finalist stage carving out a reputed place for itself.
This feature explores the genetic and Cultural links between Dravidian Indian Tribes and Indigenous people of Australia. The feature, ‘The Story Untold’ has also won the award for the best feature category at the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Media Awards.
The Premier’s award this time has been a hat trick for Kumud as she has been a recipient of the Premier’s award twice before at the hands of former Premiers.
Kumud Merani, the Executive Producer of the Hindi programmes, has been with SBS, the largest multilingual broadcaster in the world for the past 30 years. Kumud with a flawless diction in any language shares that as a child she used to listen to ‘Jantar Mantar’, the children’s programme on All-India Radio. “That’s when the journey began, as a 10-year-old,” she said. She went on to become a successful child artist on radio and then moved on to doing occasional youth programs.
In her college at St. Xaviers Kumud would team up with her classmates, Shabana Azmi and Farukh Sheikh, and they would put up some of the finest stage dramas at inter-collegiate level.
She was happily married to Suresh Merani, who she says is the backbone of her success. Kumud later got a job on Mumbai Doordarshan as a news presenter in Hindi and commentator in English. She recalls that her friend, the famous Smita Patil was auditioned and selected on the same day for Marathi news. Smita went on to join films and Kumud Merani, who used to be called ‘Bambai Kee Rani’, never looked back. She was the most popular TV news reader of Mumbai, a position she held for many years.
And then came a crucial decision. “I was at the peak of my career with TV and my husband was a successful engineer, but we were missing the quality of life afforded by Australia, so I thought I would bid adieu to my career and immigrate. In the corner of my heart though, I nurtured what I then believed to be a wild dream of joining the media in Australia.”
The Meranis immigrated in December 1984 and in March or April 1985, Kumud joined the SBS Hindi Programme. She was then a news presenter for the Hindi programme. “Besides news, we had some interviews, announced community events and played a lot of music. The Hindi-speaking listeners from India and Fiji used to be glued to the radio, as it was the only source of getting news about India and Fiji back then,” she adds.
There was much more to come. “I was the first Asian woman to be on Australian TV as a news presenter from 1986 to 1988, when I did the weekend World News’. This indeed was an amazing achievement, as Kumud Merani was selected alongside the legendary news presenter Mary Kostakidis.
She has interviewed former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee, writer Vikram Seth, poet Ahmed Faraz, ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan, Anup Jalota, Talat Aziz, Pankaj Udhas, Ustad Raza Ali Khan, Asha Bhonsle and many others. “I have seen a sea-change at SBS and feel privileged to be part of the growth. In keeping with the huge influx of migrants from India today, SBS radio offers a programme in Hindi every single day at the prime time of 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm,” she was quoted as saying.
Kumud Merani has been a proud recipient of the Parliament of NSW Multicultural Award as Journalist of the Year, she’s the winner of the IABACA Award for her contribution to Arts and Culture and bringing India closer to Australia and more. She has won the ABU International award for the documentary Sweet Sorrow, which is based on the Girmit labour sent to Fiji from India.
As far as community awards are concerned, from across Australia they are too many to be counted! “All these awards boost my confidence, they inspire me to do better; they whisper in my ears to keep going. But to me the best award is the love and affection of my dear listeners”, she said with a beautiful smile.