Operating for 70 years, Hyderabad’s Mahboob radio service still thrives in the digital age


Hyderabad: The once ubiquitous radio has been replaced today by modern technological advancements in all practical aspects. Podcasts and Youtube videos have fundamentally changed the way the world consumes information, whether it’s news, movies, entertainment, or just plain music.

Gone are the days of finding someone to fix radios, televisions or even tape recorders, as our smartphones have literally replaced most of those devices. In such a modern world, however, there remains one place in Hyderabad that is stuck in time, where radios from bygone eras and from around the world are still sent for repair.

Welcome to Mahboob Radio Service, a place where one can get a glimpse of the past, when tube TVs, tape recorders, radios, transistors, etc. were the norm. Among the plethora of machines there, decades-old radios stand out in the store, which today is one of the few places where “old technology” can be repaired.

“We’ve been repairing radios here for over five decades. My older brother Mujeebuddin and I learned about it from our father Shaik Mahboob, who started selling radios he used to bring from Bombay, ”Mohd said. Moinuddin (70), sitting and tinkering with an old radio.

The history of this old store actually dates back to well before 1948, when the old state of Hyderabad was ruled by its last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan. Shaik Mahboob indeed sold PVC pipes that he imported from Bombay. One fine day he brought a radio with him, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Mohd. Moinuddin, the younger brother of Mahboob Radio Service, holding a valve from an antique radio. (Photo: Yunus Y. Lasania)

“After taking the radio with him and selling it, he got a few more parts. Then he started to learn how to repair these radios. At that time, you could only listen to the few channels that were there. Before, every time we turned on the radio, everyone got together to listen, ”Moinuddin recalls.

In Mahboob Radio Service one can find all kinds of radios, be it Phillips, Murphy, GEC, Johnson, Marconi, Telefunken or any other well known company that one can think of decades ago. “We also have one from America, which is over 80 years old,” Moinuddin recalled.

The interns of one of Mahboob Radio Service’s many radios. Photo: Yunus Y. Lasania

Origins

Mahboob Radio Service was actually established in 1948, the same year the former princely state of Hyderabad was annexed to India on September 17th. However, even before that, Shaik Mahboob was already repairing radios in Dabeerpura. He eventually moved to Chatta Bazar to the store’s current location, where it stood out among dozens of printing presses.

Understanding the importance of his job, Mr. Moinuddin also stocked up on spare parts and old radios, many of which he uses as spare parts. “Valve radios stopped manufacturing in the 1970s themselves. After that, things continued to change, ”recalls Moinuddin.

A photo of Shaik Mahboob (next to the clock), the founder of Mahboob Radio Service. Photo: Yunus Y. Lasania

More importantly, he pointed out that unlike today’s devices, which contain a motherboard, radios can be repaired time and time again. “Today, motherboards can’t really be repaired easily, and once they’re damaged, you have to replace them entirely. In old radios, you can keep replacing parts, and those will work forever, ”Moinuddin said, chuckling a little.

Unlike today, where technology has become cheaper to own, owning radios was restricted to the elite. What was even stranger, or perhaps funnier, was that repairmen like Mr. Moinuddin and his father literally had nothing to say about their pay.

Maze of radios: a view of Mahboob Radio Service from its entrance. Photo: Yunus Y. Lasania

Ask him about it, and he tells stories of years ago, when some Nawab or the other called him to fix a radio. Among this elite section was also the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who was among the many clients of Mahboob Radio Service.

“Oh, at that time they (the Nawabs) gave us their radios to fix. Once that was done, we had to go to their home, get the radio on and show them it worked. They paid us whatever they wanted, say Rs.20 or Rs.30. No one could dare to ask for a price! remembers Mr. Moinuddin.

Today, however, the situation is quite mixed, where people from different cities and even other countries come to have their radios repaired.