By Anindita Acharya
Born premature (six months and 30 days) and turned blind shortly after birth did not crush Sayantan Banerjee’s spirit. In fact, he never grew up thinking he is disabled. So, the Kolkata boy never stopped himself from staying in the hostel and doing it all alone. However, a radio was his constant companion. Since childhood, the radio has been his best friend. He could see the world through the songs of RD Burman, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar.
And since childhood, he harboured the dream to reach out to the people through his voice. Always confident, Sayantan did not let his disability come in the way of his passion. Today, he hosts Radio Lounge, a radio show, which is available on the app of the same name.
Before Sayantan started his own radio show, he, however, gave several auditions at various leading radio channels in Kolkata. However, Sayantan tells The Optimist News that every time he was rejected on sympathetic grounds. “When I questioned why I was rejected at auditions, I was politely told about my eyesight problem. We are heavily dependent on assistive technology and I need no help from anyone. But I used to return empty-handed every time I went for the audition,” says Sayantan, who is also a teacher by profession.
It was during the Covid-19 lockdown that made Sayantan start his own radio show in Kolkata. “People were stuck in their own houses for months and I thought it was the right time to entertain them in my own way. During puja, we brought four independent musicians on our show. We promote indie music on Radio Lounge unlike the leading radio channels. The raw talents need to be talked about,” says Sayantan, who reached out to his students also through his radio show.
Sayantan believes the society has changed its perception towards the disabled, though a lot needs to be improved. “Several companies are organizing CSR activities and also employing disabled people. But mostly, low vision people are their priority,” he says.
Finding writers to assist visually impaired students during examination has become a challenge for Sayantan and others. To tackle this problem, Sayantan and his friends have started Lighthouse Think Different — reader and writer group three years ago. Today, the group has over 100 readers and writers to help the visually impaired students. “Less than 1,000 books are available in Braille in Bengal. So, we mostly rely on audio books and other assistive technology. I would urge youngsters to come forward and help the visually impaired. The schools should also organize awareness campaigns and help us in our endeavour,” says Sayantan.