in Mumbai is both magical and problematic. And in the last few years, the problems have been overshadowing the magic. Now the metro's radio stations are getting into the act to offer citizens a helping hand out of the problems of the monsoon and bring back the romance of the rains.
Red FM, the station known for its 'Bajaate Raho!' attitude, has rolled out an extensive plan to help Mumbaikars deal with the monsoon. Mumbai has been getting flooded extensively during this season in the last couple of years. Listeners can 'Vote for Boat' on Red FM if their locality is flooded in a downpour this year. The locality with the highest number of votes stands to win an inflatable Red FM boat. The boat will be handed over to the civic authority of the locality for use in rescue operations during the monsoon. Red FM will provide life jackets and monsoon survival kits along with the boat.
In other initiatives across the city, at major malls, multiplexes and railway stations, Red FM volunteers will usher people to buses, rickshaws and trains, using huge Red FM branded umbrellas. This will happen on days of heavy rain. To help Mumbaikars cope with the shortfall in cabs and rickshaws during the rains and the excessive flooding of low lying areas, the radio station is offering several Red FM Toyota Qualises to pick up and drop listeners. The Qualises will be provided outside stations, colleges, corporate parks and malls.
Anuj Singh, national marketing head and Mumbai station head, Red FM, says, "Bajaao for a Cause, Red FM's corporate social responsibility arm, stands for not only raising issues, but also driving action. After receiving tremendous response and appreciation for our efforts during the July 26 floods, and having experienced the same difficulties year after year as citizens ourselves, we decided to go all out this year with extensive initiatives during the monsoon. With our activities, we hope to highlight the plight of Mumbaikars during the monsoon and sensitise the authorities to their needs."
Red FM is not the only radio station pitching in to help its listeners. On June 11, Fever 104 FM launched a public service, 'Mumbai Monsoon Help Line', to help Mumbaikars cope with the water logging, power cuts, delays, traffic snarls, accidents, diseases, and so on that the monsoon rains bring in their wake.
With this in mind, Fever RJs will run a monsoon update every day on every show, in which they will provide the latest information on traffic jams, accidents, diversions, suitable routes, amount of rainfall, flooding or water logging situations, high tides, flight and train delays, power cuts, emergency numbers to call and precautions to take. The RJs are also asking Mumbaikars to call on 40684104 (Fever's interactive voice response system number) and record their monsoon related grievances. These complaints will be forwarded to local authorities such as the municipal authorities, the traffic police and power companies, and the Fever RJs will follow up on them.
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Will such initiatives really make a difference? Arjun Singh Baran, Mumbai station director, Big FM, adds, "Our ideology is 'Suno Sunao, Life Banao' - we are not about frivolous entertainment, but entertainment with a cause. Last year, we had 200 families as monsoon wardens, whom we called Big Mumbaikars and who gave weather updates from their localities. We are acting like a medium and a platform for society."
Singh of Red FM adds, "Our aim is to make enough noise about this issue to draw the attention of the civic authorities towards the plight of Mumbaikars. Just going by the response we are receiving for our boat canter on-ground, we can see that the majority of Mumbaikars feel that their areas might go under water in the monsoon. Why should any citizen be forced to live with that fear? We are giving people a platform to voice their concerns and we shall amplify their voices."
The radio stations are also mixing pleasure with business by playing monsoon themed songs and monsoon contests. Big FM organised a Monsoon Rain Dance with its RJs and a show called Monsoon Musical Evening With The Big KaanSens Of Bollywood, which marked eight hours of non-stop Bollywood music played live at the Oberoi Mall in Mumbai. Starting July 6, for 21 days, a celebrity Mumbaikar will be a guest on Big Chai with RJ Archana Jani. The discussions during the show will have a heavy monsoon flavour, with topics such as monsoon experiences, favourite weekend getaways and favourite monsoon songs. The celebrities lined up for Big Chai include Sonu Niigam, Shreya Ghoshal, and Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan.
Baran of Big FM says that while last year, their initiatives were more serious, this year, they are also focusing on bringing back the fun of the monsoon. He says, "Ever since the 2006 deluge, the monsoon is being associated with just that. But we are focusing on the little joys of the rains, like getting drenched, the romantic weather, sipping hot chai and munching on 'bhajiyas'."
Well, here's raising a chai-glass toast to the joys of the monsoon!