She was well-known not only for her impeccable accent but also for her grace and tranquility.
Gitanjali Aiyar, one of India’s most brilliant news anchors, passed away on Wednesday in Delhi. The 71-year-old had been ill for some time.
Gitanjali was a famous face of Doordarshan’s prime-time news at 9 p.m. for decades. She, like many of her successors as the public broadcaster, brought grace and dignity to television news prior to news studios becoming war rooms and news presenters began engaging in shouting matches. She read the news thoroughly. She belongs to a time when teachers encouraged students to listen to Gitanjali, Neethi Ravindran, and Rini Simon to enhance their English and anchors maintained a neutral tone.
Teleprompters were yet to enter newsrooms at the time, and when they did, they regularly broke down in the middle of a live broadcast. Gitanjali was noted not only for her impeccable accent but also for her composure and tranquility.
Gitanjali began her career with All India Radio before joining Doordarshan in 1971, where she was named the channel’s top anchor four times. In 1989, she received the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award for Outstanding Women.
Cast in teleserial
Gitanjali was hooked on becoming a news reader at the age of six, excelled in elocution events during her undergraduate days, and entered into the news industry as soon as she graduated from Kolkata’s Loreto College. She was also a graduate of the National School of Drama. It allowed her to spread her wings beyond the new surroundings. She starred in Khandaan, a prominent Doordarshan teleserial from the mid-1980s.
At one point, she was so popular that she was included in advertising for Solidaire television and Marmite. The punch line of the Solidare campaign, “that rarely fails,” fit Gitanjali’s face since she never lost her poise when technology failed her in the early days of Doordarshan.
She experimented in corporate communications after leaving Doordarshan, working as a consultant for the Confederation of Indian Industry and the World Wide Fund for Nature.