The KFC INTL T20 AUSvIND 2016 cricket series gets a Hindi make-over by Indian Link
Bahut hi darshaneeya prayaas rahaa…
Bahut hi umda shot!
Chaturai bhara shot.
Kaafi kaante ka muqabla hai.
Gati aur disha donon mein parivartan….
Ek atirikt run.
Donon ballebaaz mantrana karte hue…
Wahaan par koi kshetra rakshak (fielder) nahin…. seema rekha se paar aasaani se!
Balle ke androoni edge se lagi ball.
Ballebaazon ka nirantar prahaar!
Virat Kohli balle balle, baaki saare thalle thalle!
MCG ek saji hui dulhan….!
Some wonderful gems of Hindi cricket commentary were heard at each of the matches held during the recent AUSvIND KFC International T20 series.
A Cricket Australia and Indian Link Media Group collaboration brought to the airwaves the aankhon dekha haal (live commentary) from Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
The broadcast went live to Australian audiences via the CA Live App and cricket.com.au.
Presented by a team of six commentators – Sanjiv Dubey, Mukesh Madaan, Shriram Iyer, Gopal Ganwani, Chitrang Trivedi and Manish Raj – each took turns at the mic in different cities. Indian Link CEO Pawan Luthra joined in at regular intervals, while Michael Jones provided technical support.
They called the women’s games as well as the men’s games on all three match days, seeing series wins for both, and five out of six games won.
The common ground between the commentators, it was interesting to observe, was not only that they all had a great love for the game of cricket, but that they were passionate about the language as well.
Sanjiv Dubey, an Indian Linker from way back on both radio as well as in the newspaper, has established himself as a Level 2 cricket coach in Sydney’s Indian community. As a physical education teacher and founder of the Footwork Sports Academy, Sanjiv has had many young cricketers pass through his hands at various stages in the past seven years.
His intimate knowledge of the game came through brilliantly in the commentary box, and he shared anecdotes from his times in bowling practice with the visiting Indian national team in recent years. The respect that the listeners and the others on the commentary team had for him, became obvious by the end.
“Cricket is a way of life for me,” Sanjiv told Indian Link later. “I began as a player and then furthered my love for it with higher education in sports and then through my involvement in cricket coaching and sports teaching. I have also showcased my ability to analyse the game by my writings in both Hindi and English. I do have a talent for Hindi commentary which few people are aware of! I wanted to be a part of this show at the KFC T20s and I knew I could make a difference with my presence.”
Shriram Iyer, well-known in the music circles in Melbourne’s Indian community, is a natural performer and claims to have been a ‘couch-commentator’ for as long as he can remember.
“This exercise was new to most of us but all of us adapted quite quickly,” he told Indian Link. “Presence of mind is a crucial trait that I have picked up while performing live, along with other transferable traits. This was an extension of that and my extreme passion for cricket helped me through.”
The Canberra-based Manish Raj brought to the table much experience with community radio. “Add to that, my love for my matra-bhasha Hindi, and a passion for cricket. A winning combination!”
Melbourne’s Gopal Ganwani also confessed a love for both the game as well as the language. “Cricket is the only outdoor sport I have ever played, and I have remained in touch through umpiring, coaching or scoring. Literary activities in Hindi, my favourite language, have included writing creatively and participating in theatre and stand-ups, and MCing at Indian events.”
Sydney’s Chitrang Trivedi is always up for new experiences. “I like to push myself to try things outside my comfort zone. I am an avid cricket fan and this was a perfect opportunity for me to connect with the game that I love so much.”
Mukesh Madaan, also from Sydney, claims he found this a wonderful way to channel his love for the game as well as take part in a broad community activity.
Michael Jones shares the same passion for the game as the commentators. “I love cricket. I played from the age of 11 until 35 and still play the odd social game. I’m also a keen spectator and you’ll find me somewhere in the SCG Members enclosure any time there’s an international match on at the SCG. The chance to combine my job in broadcasting and cricket was too good to knock back.”
Of course, he didn’t understand a word of what the commentators were saying. Why for instance, were there so many “ugly” balls? He knows now, that ugli is the Hindi word for “next”.
“The high point though, was that everything came together so smoothly,” Michael recalled later. “Usually, in an outside broadcast, there is some sort of technical hitch and this time it just didn’t happen. Another high point was the energy and enthusiasm of all the commentators. They were all great to work with.”
As an avid Australia supporter, Michael provided the balance within the team for all the euphoria at India’s performance.
Shriram’s interesting tidbits of information (such as women’s star Niranjana Nagarajan’s nickname “Ninja”) kept the audience entertained throughout, as did Gopal’s attempt at Sindhi commentary when the game was stopped due to rain. Manish’s deep-set bass, put to good use in the exciting moments in that second half of the final Sydney game, must surely have suffered the next day! Mukesh’s faithful reporting, mature in style and faultless in delivery, could have matched the best in the business. Chitrang’s studied analyses, and Sanjiv’s expert comments at each pivotal moment, enhanced the listener’s enjoyment of the games. Saraahaneeya (commendable)!
“Primary among Pawan’s guidelines were that we should have fun while in the commentary box,” Mukesh remarked. “We definitely did, and we hope that carried across the airwaves to our listeners.”
Callers were able to ring in as well, and chipped in with their own contributions about predicted scores, strategies and so on.
Pawan Luthra was quite pleased at the way the elite team shaped up. “They did superbly and we were able to get a real ‘brotherhood’ going,” he revealed. “I had full faith that we would find our commentary team from within the community – there is great talent out there. The migrant psyche is such that we come here and delve straight into work, to provide for our families. In doing this, often we have to squash down our real passions, or put them away for a while. Many of our commentary team would probably have gone on to have media careers in India, but here they might be in IT or whatever else. But when they are somewhat ‘settled’ and when an opportunity crops up, they jump at it eagerly. I think that’s where smaller, community platforms like Indian Link Media Group can play a significant role.”
It has been in the past eight to ten years that the Indian community here has really grown. While the older settlers, who have been coming here since the 1970s, may not crave that much Hindi commentary, the newer migrants miss the Hindi cricket scene, which, of course, has grown by leaps and bounds in India the past ten years or so. They’ve left that behind, and are now lapping up this new service that Indian Link has offered.
Cricket Australia has been keen to reach out to the Indian community in recent months. “Providing our Indian community with a locally-produced Hindi broadcast will add to their cricket experience, connecting them more deeply with Australian cricket,” Ben Amarfio, Cricket Australia Executive General Manager of Media, Communications and Marketing, said.
About the CA-Indian Link partnership, Luthra said, “It’s a natural fit. They’re all about the game – we love the game! I think Australia knows that the Indian community can be very good consumers. At last year’s World Cup for instance, the stadiums were ‘bleeding blue’, we had that many Indian spectators in the stalls. So I guess you could say we are surprised why this relationship with CA did not happen sooner.”
In a wonderful coincidence, just ahead of the T20 series, news came in from India that legendary Hindi commentator Sushil Doshy had been picked for the prestigious Padma Shri, a rare Indian Government honour. The news made for an added sense of excitement as the Indian Link commentary team was finalised for the exercise, and word got around about the venture.
Cricket Australia and Indian Link Media Group sent out their own media releases and the story was picked up and reported by ABC Radio, ABC Online, 3AW and The Australian here, and back in India by Hindustan Times, DNA, Deccan Chronicle, Business Standard, New Indian Express, NewsX, ABP Live, Sports Kreeda Cricket and The Sports Campus.
Calls began to come in about how to gain access to the commentary, and various social media posts went up about how to download the Cricket Aus Live app.
Sushil Doshy will be pleased to know that the generation that grew up listening to his inimitable aankhon dekha haal, alongside other greats like Jasdev Singh and Ravi Chaturvedi, are carrying on the traditions in a land far from home.
To Indian Link’s Hindi commentary team, we can only say, paraphrasing their own excited words “Darshakon mein harsh-ollaas!” as India won each time – you helped create sunnewaalon mein harsh-ollaas, and thank you for doing so.
Finding the commentary team
To find the best Hindi-speaking commentators, a nation-wide search called “Who wants to be a Hindi cricket commentator?” was launched by Indian Link Media Group and extensively publicised across its print, radio, online and social media channels.
Entrants presented commentary based on a provided clip that was intentionally left mute.
After receiving a number of high quality entries, one from as far as Gurgaon in India, another from a 14-year-old cricket enthusiast, a shortlist of 12 people were asked to undertake a final live audition. The finalists were judged on their clarity, command of language, technical knowledge and ability to convey atmosphere and ambience.