The moment you hear T.P. Radhamoni speak, she sounds all too familiar to you. A Thiruvananthapuram native, Radhamoni has lent her voice to countless characters in an era when radio ruled the airwaves. The radio star who built a career with her sweet voice is contended at 84.
Radhamoni joined the All India Radio in Thiruvananthapuram in 1950 after earning a Ganabhooshanam music degree. By the time she retired in 1993, she was a household name across Kerala.
Curiously, Radhamoni’s bangles rode the airwaves before her voice. As a contract employee, she was asked to chime her bangles for a scene in a radio play. She eventually rose to be one of the leading ladies of the radio station.
She had also worked as a dubbing artiste for movies for some time. More recently, you must have heard her in Sathyan Anthikad’s Rasathanthram and Innathe Chinthavishayam.
However, Radhamoni’s moment of glory came when she recited Lalithambika Antharjanam’s Agnisakshi on air. She was flooded with congratulatory letters after the play was telecast. The writer herself congratulated the artiste’s rendition.
“She was being nice. That is one of my dearest memories,” Radhamony said. She had recited many plays, including the charged-up Kannaki.
“I was trained in music but I chose to work with radio plays. I was making a living out of my voice, instead of working as a clerk,” she said.
What was the secret of her voice? “Absolutely nothing. I never followed any diet or regimen. My voice was my born talent.”
Her greatest admirer was her husband, the late P. Gangadharan Nair, who was another radio star. If you have listened to the Radio Ammavan (Uncle) in the Balalokam program, you know who he was.
“He was well-versed in Sanskrit. He would teach me the correct pronunciation of many words. He died eight years ago,” Radhamoni said.
Her sons are into the entertainment industry as well. G.R. Chandramohan had been dubbing for actor Shankar throughout his career. G.R. Nandakumar dubbed for Nitish Bharadwaj in P. Padmarajan’s Njan Gandharvan. G.R. Kannan, who works with the Doordarshan, is a movie director too.
Radhamoni made her debut in cinema by lending her voice to Vijayakalshmi in ‘Laila Majnu’. She has also worked with Sharada, Vijayasree, Ambika and Jalaja and Vinodini (who played the goddess in ‘Devi Kanyakumari’).
“I was dubbing for actors who were not fluent in Malayalam. I had to carefully look at their lip movement. It took an effort. I do not remember any one of them putting in a good word.”
Her favorite is Sharada, for whom she has dubbed a slew of movies including ‘Enippadikal’. But radio remains her first love.
“Those days, lot of people liked you by your voice. Many of them would visit me. Those are pleasant memories,” said Radhamony, who is enjoying her quiet retirement along with daughter G R Sreekala, a former bank employee.