One man, many voices

For someone who has no idea that this is where he would end up, five years ago, Surya Narayana more popularly known as Red FM RJ Surya, is doing quite well for himself.

Published: 12th September 2018 11:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th September 2018 03:03 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: For someone who has no idea that this is where he would end up, five years ago, Surya Narayana more popularly known as Red FM RJ Surya, is doing quite well for himself. Currently handling the weekend evening slot, and also daily shows for three other towns, Surya is a busy man. And it took more than just time to get to this point. Despite his humble background, Surya doesn’t occur to you as a beaten down soul. He rather comes across as a person everyone wants to be friends with. With unending spirit which comes naturally to him, Surya lets us in on the journey of his life. And boy! What a journey that was!   

Unplanned journey
“I was in the middle of a bad break up,” says Surya who is from Rajahmundry, adding, “I was studying PG when I was down in the dumps and decided not to attend college too, because I truly thought I would beat someone up and get debarred or something at the time.... Yeah I was that guy back then. (laughs) My friends saw that Red FM was hiring and sent the resume without my knowledge actually. Then because I had already decided to leave town, I thought I’d give it a try.” His reason for going in for the audition was also as innocent as he comes across as. “The RJ Hunt was happening at Sheraton and that was a big deal in our town.

I thought no matter what happens at the audition, I’ll at least get to eat in a five-star hotel,” chuckles Surya. Out of 650 applicants at the hunt that day, Surya got shortlisted into the top 50 with his impeccable imitation of any star the interviewers had asked him to mimic. “When I saw the crowd I had already thought, this was an impossible attempt; ‘Piccha lite’ I thought. But then I realised that if I could get past 600 people without trying, if I put in a little more effort I might just make it,” says the 27-year-old. And he did. But his troubles had only just begin.    

Fish out of water

Right from the language, to the timing at which he moved into Hyderabad, to his own financial issues, everything Surya encountered in the early months of his shift to the city were taxing. He shares, “I barely knew English. When I got the call that I was selected, I just pieced together the words ‘Red FM’ ‘selected’ to get what they were saying.” Surya moved to the city five years ago, when the tensions of the bifurcation were still high.

Now, our young RJ with his thick East Godavari slang wasn’t welcomed warmly by the people he interacted with. But he doesn’t hold it against anyone and picked up the culture, the language and people’s warmth just like that. “I was a gold-medalist in mimicry, and that art requires quick -learning and adapting various speech patterns. That helped me in learning the ways of Hyderabad,” he says.

Coming from a humble financial background, Surya had problems adjusting with the cost of living in the city as well. And as any self-respecting youngster, he wouldn’t ask for money at home. Hesitantly he shares the time when he barely had money to buy food in his early days in Hyderabad. “I would take mimicry gigs for how much ever they paid,” he says. All this aside, his biggest problem was being homesick. “Those eight months were torturous. I would often feel, what am I doing in this far away place. Don’t I have my own people back home etc. I couldn’t fall asleep so I would wander off onto the roads,” says Surya. His mother, Saraswathi who rolls tobacco for a living, is Surya’s biggest support he says. “She’s my guide. I speak to her everyday and she keeps me in check.”

Shining despite

Being a radio jockey doesnt just involve talking into a mic. In this job, Surya got to explore his skill in writing as well. “I write the comedy bits on the channel, one of which is AV Rao. I mimic Posani and RJ Raj converses with him. I pick up the trending topic and satire on it. Writing comedy is easy for me because I feel that is the one time I can go ahead and put my thoughts onto the paper as an audience without having to cater to a star or company,” enthuses Surya. While writing is a happy place for the youngster, his eyes are locked on another goal. “I have always wanted to act in movies,” he says.

Movie opportunities

RJing did help Surya into getting access into the industry he admits. And then came the small opportunities in movies like Guntur Talkies and Garuda Vega. “ They aren’t big roles but it’s a start. But if I were to make it in the movie industry then I would want to be a big bad villain in a film,” he says. And the answer to the question why isn’t the usual “scope for acting”. Surya has quite a different take on the choice. “A hero has morals and ethics and he on principle doesn’t beat up anyone else except the villain. But the villain is unhinged. He has no limitations. He can be bad and be so to everyone, the hero, the heroine, their family, everyone! That’s why I want to play a villain,” explains Surya.

I just got lucky

Not for a moment does Surya forget his roots. He holds his humble beginnings very close to his heart and mind. “Very early in my career I learnt that we should not let the popularity get to our head. Because once it does, if we are not treated a certain way or not given attention, we’ll start fretting about it. Don’t care about it and you’ll live a happy life. Also every person in this world is talented. They are ‘thope’ in their own way. The only reason we are popular is because we had opportunity and choice they didn’t. So when people who call themselves fans come and see me, I like having a conversation with them rather than a selfie,” says Surya. He mentions his mother again as he signs off, “My mother told me that no matter how much you earn, all that will matter at the end is who love you. Let’s say you earned a 100 crores and died the very next day, who’ll enjoy it? But if you made a hundred people happy, they will keep you alive even after you are gone.”

Quick Five
Prized possession:
I sold my bike to buy a phone because the work demands it. I hold the phone very dear.
Greatest fear:
I’m terrified of darkness. I can’t watch horror movies either
Biggest aim:
To be an evil villain in a big movie
Can’t live without:
Talking to my mother  
Hidden talents:
I love to cook. I cook both veg and non-veg beautifully.
— Srividya Palaparthi


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  • Samuel david

    So great reading about all interview
    4 years ago reply
  • Anil

    4 years ago reply
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