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This article was first published 14 years ago

The best radio jockeys in the movies

Last updated on: November 27, 2009 14:08 IST

Image: A scene from Pump Up The Volume
Raja Sen in Mumbai

We're listening.

Cinema has flirted with the role of the radio jockey from time to time, occasionally throwing up momentous portrayals of these lesser seen and more heard artists.

With the film Radio, starring Himesh Reshammiya, about to hit theatres on December 3, here are 10 pretty fantastic filmi radio jockeys.


Before you read on, here's your chance to become a Himesh Reshammiya fan.  

Christian Slater in Pump Up The Volume

This Allan Moyle film featured Slater in the role of Mark Hunter, a highschool wallflower by day running a pirate radio station from his basement at night, calling himself 'Hard Harry.'


His radio station is much cooler than anything around -- his theme song is Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows, for heaven's sake -- and so is he.

Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam

Image: A scene from Good Morning Vietnam

It's impossible to picture anyone but Williams in the role of USAF DJ Adrian Cronauer, the actor improvising most of his radio broadcasts in Barry Levinson's memorable dramedy.


Set in Saigon -- prompting Adrian's unforgettable 'Gooooood Morning, Vietnam!' opening -- the film sees Williams in top form, funny, irreverent and impossible not to like.

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator

Image: A scene from The Great Dictator

Sure, Charlie Chaplin's barber wasn't a radio host in the filmmaker's first talkie, but the moment is one that deserves to be lauded.


The scene is set for the barber's doppelganger, Adenoid Hynkel, an Adolf Hitler caricature, to make a victory speech on the radio, and in his place pops up the barber.


He then proceeds to use the radio to talk to his lover, and gives us all hope in the process.

Quentin Tarantino in My Best Friend's Birthday

Image: A poster of My Best Friend's Birthday

Okay, so it's not really a good film -- but then look at just who the host is.


Quentin wrote and directed this measly-budgeted amateur film, and played a profane RJ called Clarence Pool.


The raw film doesn't work in its entirety, showing off however some of the incisive pop-culture referencing and crackling dialogue we've come to expect from Tarantino. But Pool -- who claims to have been saved from committing suicide at the age of three because of the music of The Partridge Family -- is a treat.

Vidya Balan in Lage Raho Munnabhai

Image: A scene from in Lage Raho Munnabhai

In one of Indian cinema's finest films, Vidya Balan played RJ Jhanvi. And while her 'Good morrrniiing, Mumbai!' war cry has a sniff of Robin Williams, she was perfectly cast as a simple, even naive girl who instantly assumed a saucier, snappier persona behind the microphone.


Imagining Sanjay Dutt's Munna falling for her, hook line and sinker, was pretty darned easy.

Don Cheadle in Talk To Me

Image: A scene from Talk To Me

In Kasi Lemmons' 2007 biopic, Cheadle plays well-known Washington radio host Ralph Greene. Also called Petey, Greene was an ex-convict who managed to create quite a fan following.


Cheadle is wonderfully smooth in the film, charming and sincere, and his journey resonates with us -- not least because he sounds so good.

Woody Harrelson and John C Reilly in A Prairie Home Companion

Image: A scene from A Prairie Home Companion

Robert Altman's final film fictionally explored the workings of the real life long-running radio show -- the titular show -- and while show creator Garrison Keillor played himself, the scenestealing parts were left for Harrelson and Reilly who featured as Dusty and Lefty, the singing cowboys.


Oh, and lets not forget Kevin Kline as Guy Noir, a noir radio character.

Kelsey Grammer in Frasier

Image: A scene from Frasier

I know, I know, Frasier wasn't a movie. Still, Grammer's Dr Frasier Crane was too iconic a fictional radio man to be ignored.


Starting out on NBC's Cheers as a supporting character, Frasier got his own show and the spinoff became a classic in its own right.


Grammer's baritone was perfect for radio, and his 'I'm listening' catchphrase is as memorable as they come.

Eric Bogosian in Talk Radio

Image: A scene from Talk Radio

Oliver Stone's 1988 film was an adaptation of Bogosian's play, inspired by the true story about radio host Alan Berg, who was murdered by Neo-Nazis.


Bogosian plays Barry Champlain, a fearless radio performer who gets more and more threats as his fanmail rises, but he continues to soldier on until things come to an inevitable head.

Caroline Aaron in Sleepless In Seattle

Image: A poster of Sleepless In Seattle

Nora Ephron's Sleepless In Seattle is different from most romantic comedies in the sense that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan share barely three-five minutes of screentime together.


And it is because of radio relationship guru Dr Marcia Fieldstone (Aaron) and her show that Hanks' Sam and Ryan's Annie get to know of each other. Gotta give the lady credit, she asked the right questions.