Balaji Patturaj popularly known as RJ Balaji, is an Indian radio jockey, presenter, internet celebrity and actor based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He is best known as the host of the BIG FM 92.7 show Take it Easy and its now defunct segment Cross Talk, where he made prank calls to unsuspecting victims.
Although mainly a radio jockey, Balaji is also active in other fields; he is known for his association with the television shows Ungalil Yaar Adutha Prabhu Dheva and Why This Kolaveri, and for his performance in the films Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru (2013) and Vadacurry (2014).
He has also been a presenter at many inter-school cultural events in Chennai, and has contributed to many social causes.
Balaji was born on 20 June 1985, and was raised in Chennai. He said that his father abandoned his family at an unspecified point. Balaji said in a 2013 interview with The Hindu that he changed 24 houses and 11 schools while growing up in Chennai, because his "mother just cannot stay in one place. She would move from Perambur to Thiruvanmiyur to Mylapore... no place close to each other."
Years later, on his Facebook page, he said that he lived in 19 areas, 27 houses and studied in 10 schools in his entire life in Chennai. He failed in the twelfth grade once. Balaji was married at the age of 21 years.
After completing his B.Sc computer science from the Kumararani Meena Muthiah College of Arts in 2006, he joined the Amrita School of Communication in Coimbatore for a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism, because he wanted to become like his cousin who worked at NDTV, but when he was asked to write a report on his hostel's canteen, the 56-word report contained 47 grammatical errors, and he soon realised that English journalism was not what he was interested in.
At that time he saw a newspaper advertisement of a radio station (Radio Mirchi Coimbatore) that auditioned for radio jockeys and he applied for it, though he "never knew what an RJ was back then". He said that he almost did not get selected then when he sang a gaana but was finally selected in November 2006. He has not completed his journalism course since.
Balaji was married at the age of 21 years, and has a son named Mahanth who, as of 2015, is three years old. He does not have a computer at his home, and explained that he accesses Facebook and Twitter through his mobile phone instead. During the filming of Kadavul Irukkan Kumaru, Balaji and G. V. Prakash Kumar were involved in a major car accident near Tindivanam, but sustained only minor injuries.
Balaji started his career as a radio jockey at Radio Mirchi Coimbatore, where he hosted a three-hour morning drive show called Hello Coimbatore which dealt with social issues. After four years he quit the job as he "didn't want to sound angry all the time" and returned to Chennai where his family and friends were living. He joined at BIG FM 92.7 because they gave him freedom to plan and design his four-hour slot; thus the show Take it Easy was conceived.
The evening prime-time show was created to give people a "break from the serious stuff that they have to deal with during work hours and relax with the nonsense". Balaji created another segment in Take it Easy, titled Cross Talk, where he made prank calls to unsuspecting victims, nominated by a friend, cousin, co-worker or neighbour.
On how the segment developed, Balaji said, "I was assigned to do a serious socially-relevant show in the beginning but Big [FM] gave me the chance to talk about anything in Take It Easy. Once when I was talking to a couple about something serious, people who listened found it funny. That's how Cross Talk happened".
Balaji described Radio Mirchi's Senthil Kumar, who taught him radio and its basics at Coimbatore, as his favourite RJ, and said, "whatever I am right now is because of him."
Cross Talk became very popular among youths; Balaji uploaded several clips of the show on SoundCloud. The links went viral, crossing over a million hits in a single week. Besides India, most of the downloads were in the United States (over 20%), United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Seychelles, Germany and Spain. The show earned him the moniker "Cross Talk Balaji".
As a presenter
Alongside his radio career, Balaji has been active in other fields as well. He stated, "It is nice to do a lot of things so that you are constantly on your feet". In September 2011, he judged Channel Surfing, a segment of Smaraneeyam, the inter-school cultural festival of Sri Sankara Senior Secondary School. Balaji was a performer at Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering's annual cultural festival Instincts in March 2012. He hosted the teaser trailer release event for Maattrraan in June 2012.
Cinema and television
In Puthagam (2013), Balaji introduces the lead characters played by Sathya, Sanjay, Vignesh and Rakul Preet Singh, in a voice-over. In the same year, he made a cameo appearance in Ethir Neechal, and made his full-fledged acting debut in Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru.
He appeared in a brief role as a show host in Vallinam (2014). His second film appearance in 2014 was in Vaayai Moodi Pesavum, followed by a major role as the title character in Vadacurry. In 2015, he appeared in Idhu Enna Maayam, Yatchan, and Naanum Rowdydhaan, where he played the character Paandi's (Vijay Sethupathi) friend. For his performance in Naanum Rowdydhaan, Balaji was nominated for the SIIMA Award for Best Comedian. In 2016, he appeared in Jil Jung Juk, and Pugazh, where he also worked as a singer and lyricist on the song "Podu Podu".
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