She was well-known not just for her impeccable accent, but also for her grace and tranquility.
Gitanjali Aiyar, one of the country’s most talented news anchors, died on Wednesday in Delhi. The 71-year-old has been sick for a while.
For decades, Gitanjali was a prominent face of Doordarshan’s prime-time news at 9 p.m. She, like many of her contemporaries on the public broadcaster, brought grace and dignity to television news before news studios became war rooms and news presenters began engaging in shouting matches. She read the news thoroughly. She belongs to a time when professors encouraged students to listen to Gitanjali, Neethi Ravindran, and Rini Simon to enhance their English and anchors kept a neutral tone.
Back then, teleprompters had yet to make their way into newsrooms, and when they did, they frequently broke down in the middle of a live broadcast. Gitanjali was noted not just 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.
Gitanjali was hooked on being a news reader at the age of six, excelled in elocution events throughout 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 enabled her to expand her wings beyond the new landscape. She appeared in Khandaan, a prominent Doordarshan teleserial that was popular in 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 with corporate communications after leaving Doordarshan, working as a consultant for the Confederation of Indian Industry and the World Wide Fund for Nature.