Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

Brilliance tinged with modesty and humour

Jimmy Bharucha
Sunday Times Sep 18 2005

It was with a deep sense of shock and sadness that I came to know about the passing away of one of my earliest friends and classmates, Jimmy Bharucha. We were boys in the same class at St. Peter's College since 1941 and Jimmy lived close to the College on Galle Road opposite the then Seminary, now the Bambalapitiya Flats.

His father was a respected member of the judiciary and was a District Judge of the highest calibre. Coming from a respected Parsee family, Jimmy was the epitome of modesty, friendliness and good humour apart from being a brilliant scholar.

We belonged to a batch that consisted of some of the cream of the College in those days. There was Robin Rodrigo, Tony Don Michael, H.I.K. Fernando, Leonard Wettasinghe, Nazareen Motha, Rex Guneratne, Denzil Abeysekera and Dominic Candappa apart from Jimmy to mention just a few that now come to mind. We all vied with each other to be on top of the class or win the coveted prizes at the annual prize giving. Our Primary School days were under the strict supervision of Fr. Arthur Fernando and college days under the legendary Rectors Fr. Nicholas Perera and Fr. Basil Wiratunga.

These were also the halcyon days of Peterite sports especially cricket. There were the legendary heroes Dion Walles, Eric Schokman, Percy Perera, brothers, Anton and Maurice Perera, Michael Chanmugam, Bernard Wijetunga, Ebenezer Souza, "Baby" Harold Silva and later others such as Darrel Weinman, H.I.K. Fernando, Phil Kelly, Denzil Abeysekera, Ivor Newman etc;, all coached by veteran Herbert Wittachy and later Russel Heyn. They followed in the footsteps of the celebrated Joe Misso of the late 1930s.

Other prominent personalities that come to mind in that era include Dennis Perera, Jeff Felix, Eardley Tillakeratne, Gaya Cumaratunga, Ashley Halpe, Charlie Mahendran, Merlin Peiris, Dalston Forbes, Victor Gunawardena, Charlie and Ray Forbes to name only a few.

Jimmy was a brilliant scholar, his forte being English and of course English elocution. Even from his boyhood days his speech and diction were flawless and his accent perfect. These were natural qualities and not acquired. Year after year, he monopolized the English elocution prize and we could get nowhere near him.

Jimmy's elocution prowess was so remarkable and he was so versatile that I remember once, more as a lark he had a shot at the Sinhala elocution prize as well (though his knowledge of that language was far from perfect). His performance left the judges with no option but to award him the winning position over all the Sinhalese boys.

Jimmy's classmates all did well to later enter the University and enter into various prominent positions in medicine, administration, law, the Services etc. Jimmy however opted, correctly I believe, to utilize his natural flair and talent and make broadcasting a career, which later became his passion. His distinguished career in that field is common knowledge and needs no repetition. It was sheer delight to listen to my schoolboy friend reading out the news in his impeccable style and diction or subsequently doing a commentary for a documentary production on television.

It was however in the field of commercial broadcasting that he excelled under the patronage of whom Aubrey Collette in his cartoons dubbed as "Odd Man Dodd" - Clifford R. Dodd the father of commercial broadcasting in Sri Lanka.
In his personal life, Jimmy was modest, shy and retiring, never seeking the limelight. He remained a confirmed bachelor like quite a number of us in that batch. I used to telephone him occasionally and the last time I met him was when he visited me a few years ago to get some advice on his income tax matters.

Jimmy and his contemporaries belonged to a type of society and value system which is fast disappearing, if it has not vanished altogether. Another of that breed has now gone and one might end with I believe, an apt quotation, "His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might rise up and say to all the world - this was a man." May he rest in peace.

Harry Waidyasekera


Jimmy Bharucha and others: Addendum

 Thank you for publishing the piece on Jimmy Bharucha in your issue of November 07 (Midweek Review -As I Like It). Lots of responses from dear readers. One among them was Dr West Moder. He wrote in to say that I missed the name of Jean Gonsal. He was right. The Gonsal sisters were Hindi announcers too. I thank him for that.

 Since I wrote only from memory, I did not have the full list. May I take some space to give some more names of the English announcers whom I missed. To keep the record updated here are some more names. I thank longstanding listener of the SLBC, Marie Amarasinghe for sending me these names. My apologies to those whose names were left out inadvertently.

 The names are:

 Vimala de Saram, Manik Kalupahana , the late Tommy Perera, his wife Mahes Perera, Jean Abeysekera,Terrence, Dudley Jansz, Palitha Jayasuriya, Derreck Meloney, Lakpriya Nanayakkara, Dhaniska Kurukulasuriya, Manoj Hettiarachchi, and his wife Maisha, Eric Gauder. Thank you Marie.

 Some other names I remember are: Bhakthi Abeysuriya, Eric Fernando, Bianca.

 There may be more names.

 Since the SLBC has no records of the presenters who came over the air in English, my little contribution and the assistance given by Dr Modder and Ms Marie Amarasinghe would help them to keep a record. But do the powers that be at the helm really read what we write?

 Since yours truly is on a holiday, his column As I Like It will appear from mid January. Cheers!

 K. S. Sivakumaran
Colombo 06.

Daily Mirror Sat Nov 17 2007


Wikipedia:

Jimmy Bharucha, called a 'colossus in Sri Lanka's broadcasting world' died in Colombo in June 2005.

Bharucha who was educated at St.Peter's College, Colombo, had a career in broadcasting spanning 46 years. He was a pioneer of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and his velvet voice was popular not only in Sri Lanka but across the Indian sub-continent.

He joined the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon on September 17, 1951, the station (the oldest in South Asia) was only a year old. Bharucha joined the Commercial Service under the stewardship of Clifford Dodd, who arrived in Ceylon to become the Director of the Commercial Service — Dodd was seconded to Ceylon under the Colombo Plan. Jimmy Bharucha joined the great announcers of Radio Ceylon playing western music. The entire radio station consisted of 45 members of staff including announcers in 1951. He presented some popular programmes including 'Crookes Hit Parade, Film Magazine, Take It Or Leave It, Melodies and Memories' among them.

Jimmy Bharucha was appointed to senior management positions — as Director, News, and Director, Foreign Relations— he was also Director/Secretary to the Board with the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.

 

Jimmy Barucha - a colossus in our broadcasting world

by Herman Gunesekera - Sunday Observer July 24, 2005

Soon it will be almost a month since Jimmy Barucha passed away. I had noted a worthy appreciation written by my friend Laddie Hettiarachchi in which he had referred to the early and mid '60s in broadcasting. My association with Jimmy began at the end of the same decade. Jimmy was handling the popular weekly "Crookes Hit Parade" which I was co-ordinating for Zenith Advertising where I was at the time.

What was unique about this man was his affable and humble mannerism; his amazing capacity to simply listen to those who did not possess a tenth of his knowledge in broadcasting and music and yet make them feel as if they were the authority and not he. Never once during my long association with him have I seen him display his huge wealth of knowledge or attempt to force it on anyone or even show annoyance at anyone.

Jimmy was a man who neither advertised himself nor aspired for position. In fact, I believe it was this very characteristic of his that prevented him from reaching even higher echelons in his chosen field. So unassuming was he that few were aware of his credentials. In the initial stage of our friendship, he struck me as bashful - sometimes to the point of been reclusive. Later I realized that he reserved his social life for those who were really near and dear to him.

At this point, I recall an incident that took place in those good old days.

I had been advised by some friends at the station that Jimmy disliked and even refused to sit in front of a 'mike' if anyone was around. I had rushed into the station at lunchtime and was frantically attempting to locate Jimmy to iron out some matter relating to the following week's programme.

I finally found him seated in the cramped little Studio A, while his Production Assistant occupied the larger partitioned area which contained the controls. Jimmy was taken aback by this panting young Ad Agency man barging in and seating himself in front of him when he was about to open the afternoon transmission. I had no idea at the time that he was about to do so and went on exchanging the usual pleasantries and blabbing non-stop.

In my naivety, I failed to see his discomfort caused by my bold and unscheduled invasion of his privacy. Poor Jimmy, not wishing to hurt my feelings by ordering me out of the studio, pleaded with me not to make a noise that he was about to go on the air! Soon after the opening announcements, Jimmy politely asked me if we could meet afterwards and I left him.

While the experience was exhilarating to a young man who also aspired to be a broadcaster someday, I had unintentionally earned the privilege of been one of the very few to share such an experience. This was revealed to me by Sugath Adikari - a skilled Production Engineer, who Jimmy held a high esteem.

Jimmy Barucha to my mind, was the encyclopaedia of broadcasting and music, ever willing to share his knowledge with anyone. He possessed a library of music titles and meticulously maintained and updated that library. If ever one wished a piece of music or clarification of some detail, no matter which era it belonged to, Jimmy would provide the answer.

Jimmy was a perfectionist - a tireless worker who would spend hours late in to the night in the transmission room of Radio Ceylon listening to foreign programmes and transcriptions.

The rich and unmistakable timbre of Jimmy Barucha's voice has been stilled and though the broadcasting waves, may not relay it again, it will ring in the minds of all those who loved him - that includes millions who only heard him and did not have the good fortune of knowing him.

I thank God for my friendship with Jimmy.


Jimmy Bharucha and others: Addendum

 Thank you for publishing the piece on Jimmy Bharucha in your issue of November 07 (Midweek Review -As I Like It). Lots of responses from dear readers. One among them was Dr West Moder. He wrote in to say that I missed the name of Jean Gonsal. He was right. The Gonsal sisters were Hindi announcers too. I thank him for that.

 Since I wrote only from memory, I did not have the full list. May I take some space to give some more names of the English announcers whom I missed. To keep the record updated here are some more names. I thank longstanding listener of the SLBC, Marie Amarasinghe for sending me these names. My apologies to those whose names were left out inadvertently.

 The names are:

 Vimala de Saram, Manik Kalupahana , the late Tommy Perera, his wife Mahes Perera, Jean Abeysekera,Terrence, Dudley Jansz, Palitha Jayasuriya, Derreck Meloney, Lakpriya Nanayakkara, Dhaniska Kurukulasuriya, Manoj Hettiarachchi, and his wife Maisha, Eric Gauder. Thank you Marie.

 Some other names I remember are: Bhakthi Abeysuriya, Eric Fernando, Bianca.

 There may be more names.

 Since the SLBC has no records of the presenters who came over the air in English, my little contribution and the assistance given by Dr Modder and Ms Marie Amarasinghe would help them to keep a record. But do the powers that be at the helm really read what we write?

 Since yours truly is on a holiday, his column As I Like It will appear from mid January. Cheers!

 K. S. Sivakumaran
Colombo 06.

Daily Mirror Sat Nov 17 2007