Free Press Journal

Richa Anirudh: The uncrowned queen of the television world


Folk singer Padma Shri Malini Awasthi presents Utthan Nataraj Samman to Richa Anirudh

The uncrowned queen of television, Richa Anirudh is a journalist with social consciousness, scribing herself to causes that need attention, yours, mine and theirs, and cumulative action. She is back with her popular talk show Zindagi Live in a digital avatar as Zindagi with Richa to tell the untold stories of the unseen, unheard, unknown, and unsung heroes from our everyday lives, writes Shilpi A Singh

Richa Anirudh is the uncrowned queen of the television world. For the uninitiated, 43-year-old Richa has ruled the small screen in all her avatars, be it as a hardcore reporter when she started off 16 years ago or as a host of a popular show, Zindagi Live in 2007 to celebrate life in all its hues – good, bad and ugly. The show has had an unbeaten seven-year run on IBN7, followed by a rerun on ETV as Zindagi Live Returns, and has been relaunched in a digital avatar as Zindagi with Richa on YouTube.

The show is popular because it has given voice to the unheard, shown face of the unsung, given a platform to the underappreciated, made many shed tears for the unwept heroes, and while doing so touched many lives. Awards galore and Richa’s show won many over the years for her incredible work including the Best Talk Show in all its six seasons of Zindagi Live, Indian Television Academy Award in 2012 and Laadli Media Award thrice. Her show was also nominated for the Asian Television Awards for the episode on child abuse, a rare feat for a  Hindi show. But in spite of all these achievements, in all humility, she quips, “I just an ordinary woman; you have made me a celebrity! It is humbling to see people tell this to me. I feel we all fight the daily roadblocks in the journey called life. Aren’t we all celebrities!”

Connecting people

The guests on her show are just another face in the crowd; he or she could be a survivor of a tragedy, a victim of injustice, a sufferer of violence in any form, or someone who has valiantly triumphed over the odds. They come with stories which are unique, full of pain and smiles, failures and success, ups and downs, that strike a chord, motivate, inspire and above all celebrate life. “The show believes to have a meaningful conversation on topics, issues and problems that are a part of theirs, yours, and our lives. Such stories get buried in the conundrum for TRPs; the media tends to pursue a case for a day or two with a lot of vigour, and the pace and race of such coverage in papers and on television are sickening at times.

What hurts the most is the ease with which the mainstream media tends to forget it soon after. There are no follow-ups. We pick it up from there and take it forward to a logical solution, discuss the problem and find a way out too,” she adds. Talking about all the shades of life, the playlist of her new digital show has five sections. “We will pick up only one story in each episode. If Aap-Beeti is a victim or a survivor narrating their tale, Missal has inspiring tales of everyday people. On the other hand, Nayak is about the unsung heroes, Hunarbaaz gives the talented a platform, and Dil Se where a celebrity provides a sneak peek into the unknown facet of his or her life beyond their professional achievements,” she adds.

From the heart

Her multifaceted personality has another exciting dimension that many are unaware. She runs an NGO Meri Laadli that works for the betterment of the girl child. “I have seen the daughters being at the receiving end in families because the brothers are given more importance when it comes to education, career and other choices in life. Our thought is to help such girls come to the forefront and rise above odds to empower themselves through education, vocational training, and live a fulfilling life,” she says on the baby steps that she’s taking in this direction with her NGO.

She joined hands with Milaan Foundation to start a campaign India Needs Daughters to celebrate a girl child. She has waged war to give the girl child her due through her talks, appearances and writings to fight the gender disparity that is seeped deep in our minds, hearts, and lives, and manifests every time in ugly form as rapes, assaults, domestic violence, stalking, molestation, etc. “I have heard how a boy is stronger than a girl, and can’t cry like a girl but he can surely make a girl cry, and that saddens me no end. It happens all over, irrespective of our social, educational or professional backgrounds. We need to make a girl an achiever wherever she is and whatever she does, and we need to start it as early as possible by raising good boys,” she says.

News worthy 

Lamenting the death of news, Richa recalls how she was anchoring a show on a TV channel when the news of Delhi serial blasts broke and as long as she was on the air, with utmost sincerity she tried to ask people to control the audience and douse their anxieties, and worries. “The threat was palpable all around, and my job was to calm panic-stricken people.

The death of news in our times is a worrisome trend. Today, anchors believe in screaming and yelling on shows, making a tragedy a televised item, and a public spectacle, fanning the anger and giving air-time to people and issues that don’t need that kind of footage,” she rues. In small measure, the woman in her takes precedence when she lends her support to causes that make a difference to another woman, like being the face of a campaign Talking Stalking. “The idea is to bring a law in the Parliament to make stalking a non-bailable offence.  And we are working on it, and pursuing the cause relentlessly,” says Richa, a journalist with a social consciousness, scribing herself to causes that need attention, yours, mine and theirs, and cumulative action to make our tomorrow better than today.