Anandita Bajpai – Representations of the Past

Entangled Wavelengths. Translocal Affect and Affiliation Among Radio Broadcasters and Listeners of German International Radio Stations in Cold War India, 1964–1990

Dr. Anandita Bajpai

This research project investigates the mutual entanglements of the cultural, political, and affective radiophonic repertoires devised by the two iconic German international broadcasting services, Radio Berlin International from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Deutsche Welle from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), during the Cold War years in India. Rather than limiting these entwined, often competing, trajectories of the two radio stations to a reductive comparison, the Indian perspective promises to reveal their complex histories as entangled and overlapping. How did India become a site for sonically mapping Cold War affiliations, and how did Indian actors respond to, profiteer from, and even co-shape inter-German competitive acoustic presences in the transnational space of radio broadcasts?

The project probes into the interstitial affective spaces made of voices, ears and postal feedback, between the microphones in Bonn and East Berlin and local radio sets in India. It traces the translocal trajectories of entanglements among actors from the GDR, FRG and India and how short waves triggered the imagination of listeners in sub-urban/rural India to perform lived local internationalisms. Radio fan clubs thus inserted themselves in the wider global politics of a Cold War-torn world by staging solidarity with one or the other voice in the Cold War. The project is interdisciplinary in different regards: it mobilises both historical and anthropological methods including archival, oral historical and ethnographic research. It thus promises to combine and engage with theoretical debates from the fields of Cold War history, the history of emotions and a historical anthropology of material culture.

This research project is part of Modern India in German Archives, 1706–1989 (MIDA), a long-term project supported by the German Research Council (DFG) with the participation of Prof. Dr. Ravi Ahuja, Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), Universität Göttingen, Dr. Heike Liebau, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) Berlin, and Prof. Dr. Michael Mann, Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften (IAAW), HU Berlin.

The Sound of Friendship: Warm Wavelengths in a Cold, Cold War, a film by Anandita Bajpai

The first private screening was on 19.10. in the hallowed halls of the Funkhaus — the erstwhile seat of Radio Berlin International (RBI) — which made the following podium discussion and Q&A with the director and former employees of RBI all the more special.

This documentary tells the story of the Hindi programme of GDR’s international broadcasting station Radio Berlin International (RBI). The programme was aired from the Funkhaus at Nalepastrasse in Berlin from 1967 to 1990. The film takes viewers from locales in Berlin to Madhepura, Bihar in India where a Listeners’ Club called the ‘Lenin Club’ was active. In times of the Cold War, crossborder friendships developed between the listeners in India and the journalists in Germany. How are these connections remembered today, more than 30 years after the station was shut down?

Book Launch & Film Screening

The event was both a book launch of my book Cordial Cold War: Cultural Actors in India and the German Democratic Republic, and a private screening of The Sound of Friendship: Warm Wavelenths in a Cold, Cold War. It was organized and funded by ICAS:MP, Delhi as part of their Sage Series 'Politics and Society in India and the Global South.' It took place on 28 March 2022 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.


Further Screenings

Since it's release, The Sound of Friendship: Warm Wavelenths in a Cold, Cold War has been screened several times. Here you can find an overview of the film's screenings.

02.02.2023: Screening as part of "unifilm". Technische Universität Berlin, Germany. More information here.

26.01.2023: Screening as part of "unifilm". Universität Hamburg, Germany. More information here.

14.01.2023: Screening at the 12th Norient Festival. Bern, Switzerland. More information here.

Media Coverage

Vens, Hartwig


Der DDR-Auslandssender RBI hatte Fans in Indien (Podcast)


Deutschlandfunk Kultur

Mukherjee, Tatsam

Right Frequencies

Several projects are now exploring how the radio made the world a smaller, better place


India Today Magazine

Ludwig, Kai

Indien und Radio Berlin International



Radio Eins rbb

Sharma, Gouri

The radio station at the heart of an India-GDR friendship

The untold story of a shared history is now coming to light.


Shehanshah Alam

हाशिए पर धकेले गये लोगों को जोड़ने वाला रेडियो


Prabhat Khabar, Patna

Shehanshah Alam

भारत-जर्मन संबंधों पर आधारित फिल्म 'द साउंड आफ फे्रंडशिप..'

The Sound of Friendship: A film on India- GDR Relations, Interview with the protagonist of the film, Arvind Srivastava


Deshbandhu Samachar

Brüheim, Theresa

DDR-Auslandsrundfunk: Warme Wellenlängen im Kalten Krieg

Das Hindi-Programm des DDR-Auslandsrundfunks


Interview with: Anandita Bajpai

Politik & Kultur (Zeitung des Deutschen Kulturrates), 11/21

Heller, Elisabeth

Der Klang der Freundschaft – ein neuer Dokumentarfilm über Radiogeschichte zwischen der DDR und Indien


Zeitreisen Nalepafunk

Momentaufnahmen | 2021

Arvind Srivastava

मधेपुरा में बनी फिल्म की बर्लिन में 19 अक्टूबर को होगी स्क्रिनिंग

Film Made In Madhepura Will Be Screened In Berlin On October 19


Dainik Bhaskar

Arvind Srivastava

19 अक्टूबर को बर्लिन में होगी फ़िल्म द साउंड ऑफ फ्रेंडशिप……


Dainikjanmat News