I often find myself snickering while using public transport, followed by getting several confused glances by my fellow passengers who accurately observe that I’m not watching a Kapil Sharma video. I can’t hear them calling me crazy because I’m plugged in, listening to The Bugle, a comedy podcast.
Podcasts refer to audio files with radio-style content that can be downloaded from the internet. The ‘pod’ in podcast comes from the iPod. Apple recognised and supported the then-fledgling industry through its iTunes service, which made finding and listening to podcasts much easier. They are at a nascent stage in India but are catching on fast. You can listen to them online, or download apps such as Podcast Republic and CastBox.
Podcasts are a unique form of media. Their appeal is that they feel authentic, even intimate, either through voice acting or simply by having an uncensored private conversation. Due to their self-interpretive nature, podcasts can provide the experience of reading a book without demanding the attention that books do. They shine in the background, against the backdrop of a bus ride, a cooking session or while doing laundry. They combine the leisure of listening to music with the immersion of reading books.
Unlike radio, which is programmed to cater to the masses, podcasts have the freedom to explore off-center topics. Additionally, given that freedom of speech tends to take a beating on most major media platforms in our country, the relative unpopularity of podcasts gives their owners the incentive to serve honest, unadulterated content. India is a country with a collectivist attitude whereas podcasts are all about the individual perspective. For the small audience they serve, podcasts are inspirational and even necessary.
Interested but wondering where to get started? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
1. Cyrus Says
Entertaining at first glance and edifying at the next, Cyrus Says is a weekly talk show, hosted by Cyrus Broacha (of MTV Bakra fame). He interviews a diverse set of personalities from a wide range of professional backgrounds – comedians, journalists, educators, craft brewers, you name it. The show starts with a short monologue that should help you get used to Cyrus’s express train of thought as he lashes out on chairs without arms, smelly shoes and occasionally, politics. You can find it here.
2. Trial By Error – The Aarushi Files
Inspired by the first mega-hit fiction podcast, Serial, Trial By Error – The Aarushi Files is a true-crime drama narrated by journalist, Nishita Jha. It presents the story of the 2008 Aarushi murder case, describing the events and the investigation in detail. The ominous soundtrack and multi-faceted coverage of the case complement the narration and do so well. You can find it here.
3. Our Last Week
Our Last Week, featuring stand-up comedian, Anuvab Pal, and actor, Kunaal Roy Kapur, is a show where comedy meets philosophy. Each show is a set of conundrums raised by a bewildered Anuvab, followed by laid-back intellectual replies from Kunaal, both guaranteed to leave you in splits. They discuss Bollywood, religion, body gestures and fundamental questions like “What came first-the cat or the coffee bean?”. The first season wrapped up in January; you can find it here.
4. Keeping It Queer
Stand-up comedian, improv artist, and avid podcast-listener himself, Navin Noronha, started Keeping it Queer to share the stories of members of the LGBTQ community. “We learn about queer rights from an Indian perspective. It’s not always about the struggles, there’s also the daily lives of individuals and the broader culture of the community.” says Navin. The show promotes outlets like The Humsafar Trust that can help people in need. Listeners often reach out to Navin and his guests for support and solidarity. The first season is underway, I urge you to check it out here.
5. The Bugle
The Bugle, created by Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver in 2007, is a weekly British satirical podcast with more than 300 episodes under its belt. The show went on hiatus in 2014 for John to focus on HBO’s Last Week Tonight. It returned by popular demand in late 2016, now featuring a rotating international roster of satirists including our own Anuvab Pal. Featuring one-man sketches involving Biblical characters and fake audio recordings of inconsequential historic events, The Bugle is British humour at its best. You can find it here.
So, if you’re tired of frequent radio ads, and want some intelligent entertainment, pick a podcast and plug in!
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar